Before you even think that this is “another guru bashing post”, let me throw up my hands and swear. No, this is not one of such posts.
The thought that the IM gurus have been taking us for granted has been lurking in my mind for so long. I’m not even sure whether I should be posting this in someone else’s blog. But, since my blog is pretty new, I thought this is better off as a guest post.
Ever wondered how the top bloggers in your niche make money?
Apart from a very few bloggers, most people have their own products. The most common advice seen in internet marketing blogs is that you need to have a product of your own to make six figure income.
I don’t doubt that having a product helps make a lot of money. In fact, I really think that making money through product launches is a great way to monetize your business. After all, blogging alone is not a very viable business model.
You launch your first eBook or video course, or membership site. You promote it like crazy, get people onto the program and then make money. You provide real value, people are happy that they made a purchase from you. All’s fine till now.
Grab any products about “product launches” and you will understand that creating hype is absolutely essential for making big money with your product launches. You go crazy with pre launch offers, jv offers, bonuses and so on.
For most launches, the bulk of the money is made during the initial stages. When the hype is still fresh and people are all excited about the product. However, what happens when the hype subsides?
This is when most product owners face issues. Their income almost stops (compared to the initial income). What happens when you run out of money? You try to make more money, right? So, now the top bloggers in our niche need to figure out another way to keep the cash flow. What do you think they will come up with?
Since the product launch worked so well for them, they brainstorm and create another product. Some folks are notorious enough to charge people first and then later create the product. I’m not going to name the person, but you should know.
What’s The Big Deal about Creating another Product?
There is no problem with creating new products, per se. The problem is when the new product vastly resembles the old product the blogger launched first.
If the upcoming products the blogger launches are very much related to the first one, shouldn’t it be given to the buyers of the first product for free? Or does buying a product mean no future updates?
Here Are Some Case Studies of Popular Bloggers Following This Trend
I’m not trying to point my finger at anyone (more about this towards the end). I respect all the bloggers I mention here. In fact, I am one of their most loyal fans. That is why this thought came to my mind in the first place.
Case Study #1: Darren Rowse From problogger.net
Here are the products you can buy from him (Here’s the link to the page on his blog)
- 31 Days to Build a Better Blog
- ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging
- ProBlogger’s Guide to Blogging for Your Business
- Copywriting Scorecard for Bloggers
- Problogger Premium Forum
- Problogger- The Book
- The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing
31 Days to Build a Better Blog: This started off as a series of posts. It’s still possible to view the posts on problogger if you can do a bit of searching. However, what Darren did was, after he saw the popularity of the series, he quickly rolled it out as a product. You can argue that there is a price for convenience. If you call it convenience, yes I take that. (Even Seth Godin did it, so who’s complaining?)
ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging: It’s supposed to help bloggers during their first week of blogging. But, Darren, you say that 31 days to build a better blog is effective even if you start out blogging and that we can continue using the 31 day process throughout the life of the blog if we choose to. Guess, this is for people who did not buy your 31 DBBB workbook.
ProBlogger’s Guide to Blogging for Your Business: Same stuff, but for corporate bloggers.
Copywriting Scorecard for Bloggers: Supposed to help you write better blog posts by following a checklist.
Problogger Premium Forum: A premium forum which charges 5.99$ a month for access. As of writing this, the stats are “Currently Active Users: 19 (4 members and 15 guests)”. Not exactly what I’d like inside a paid forum.
The Blogger’s Guide to Online Marketing- A book with more focus on marketing rather than just blogging.
Problogger- The Book: Initially Darren released this as an ebook. Finally it was released as a hard cover.
Looking at all the offering below, do you see a relation among the products? It’s almost the same with a little bit of difference here and there.
When the ProBlogger book was launched, it seemed that we did not need anything else other than the problogger book. However, more products followed with almost the same theme.
I get the feeling that these should have been upgrades to the original instead of separate products. Then again, it might be just me.
Case Study #2: Glen From viperchill.com
His two main paid courses are
- Cloud Living
Cloud Blogging(No longer Available)
Cloud Living: Focuses on the “internet lifestyle”. Touted as everything you need to get started online. At least, that’s how it sounded to me.
Cloud Blogging: Much more miniature version of cloud living, but focused on blogging.
I was a bit confused when cloud blogging came out since cloud living already had a section dedicated to blogging. So I emailed him asking for the difference. The reply I got was this
Cloudblogging focuses exclusively on strategies to grow a successful blog.
We focus on various aspects from design and SEO to content structure, traffic and monetization strategies whereas Cloud Living focuses on building minisites to promote affiliate products.
If you have a blog or looking to make money from blogging, then Cloud Blogging is what you need.:)
Well, I am not too sure about that since in cloud living, there are two paths we can take. One is mini sites and another is blogging. He explains both in detail in his cloud living ebook.
Strange!!! Cloud blogging should have been a subset of cloud living. However, it is not!!!
But, you shouldn’t complain anymore because he’s offering an awesome free resource: Blogging Case Study which is completely free and the content is simply awesome. I would definitely pay for this one.
Case Study #3: Gideon Shalwick From becomeablogger.com and rapidvideoblogging.com
Becomeablogger.com is run jointly by Gideon and Yaro Starak from Entrepreneurs-Journey.com. It’s obviously a course that teaches people about blogging. The main selling point here is that they use a lot of videos in this course.
Rapidvideoblogging.com is run by Gideon alone and focuses on video blogging. Agreed this is a bit different, but it somehow overlaps with the becomeablogger course in my mind.
If that’s not enough, he has a host of other products that you can buy for 247$. Here’s the page on his site.
As I said, I do not have any issues with any of the above mentioned bloggers. They provide real value and the products they have are worth every penny.
My Argument Against This Approach
My problem, however, is that people who are new to this stuff “think” that what they purchase the first time is all they need to be successful. Then they are greeted with course after course. There seems no end to this.
I even sometimes think Darren might come up with several ebooks titled “ProBlogger’s Guide to Your Second Week of Blogging”, “ProBlogger’s Guide to Your Third Week of Blogging”, and so on. I’m sure if that happens, content might be exclusive. Not the same re-hashed stuff.
However, how about thinking from a buyer’s perspective?
We buy a product thinking that it’s a solution to all our problems, only to find that there is another product from the same person who we bought the earlier course from. This time, the sales pitch makes it seem to us that “this is the one”. What happens when we buy it too? After some time, another product launches claiming to be the ultimate guide or whatever. So which is it that is “the one”?
I choose these three bloggers for case study because I know their products offer value. But, there are a few others who re hash the same content and sell as different courses. If I choose to write about them, I think it might be a non constructive post.
My Argument For This Approach
From a sellers perspective, this is absolutely fair. In some ways, yes, it’s the only way you should proceed with product creation.
If you overwhelm a reader with too much information via one resource, chances of them taking any action is close to zero. Now, if you are like most honest product creators, you want your users to benefit from what you offered them. So, why should he not want them to make the most out of it?
By splitting the topic into a number of resources, you can, in effect lower the price of each resource and make it more targeted.
Take for example the blogging book for business and the normal blogging book from Darren. Don’t you think that businesses can benefit from reading the book with a focus on business? They could possibly save money and a lot of time.
The reason I picked out 3 bloggers is because I respect these guys a lot. I know they deliver what they promise. But how do users feel when they are confronted with “similar sounding” offers again and again? Do you think it’s fair to the readers? Is this a business model that you would like to follow? I’d like to hear your take on this.