There are two ways to start a business.
Method #1 is the method chosen by nearly all online marketers, and it goes like this:
You have a great idea. A terrific idea. The idea of the century.
Or just a good idea.
In any case, you think about it. You do some research. You talk to your friends and see what they think.
And then you go for it.
You execute the idea, make the product or service, and wait for people to buy.
Except that they don’t. No, it’s not your marketing – your marketing is fine.
No one is buying because you are just one more bit of noise in a very noisy world.
You’re just one more person trying to sell something.
And they don’t have time for you.
It’s nothing personal. It’s reality.
Then there is method #2:
You have a great idea. You do some research, talk to your friends and so forth.
You decide to go for it.
But you don’t start with making the product or service.
Instead you focus on finding the audience and building a list.
You build a list of a few hundred people interested in this exact thing.
Then you build your product, and you tell your list.
And your list pays attention to you.
You are no longer an interruption in their day.
They asked you to email them.
And they buy.
You can even use this list to tweak your product, validate your product, presell your product… do you see how powerful this is?
Here are two examples of putting this method into action, courtesy of Video Fruit.
Case Study #1: 250 subscribers and a $10,000 product launch.
John buys a WordPress theme from Michael Hyatt. John realizes the theme is difficult for new users, and people could use help with it.
So John creates an email list around this theme, and then creates a course on how to use the theme.
He got 250 people who were interested in getting help with Michael’s theme, and sold $10,000 worth of the product.
From the time he thought of the idea to the time his product launch ended was 30 days.
The product itself was sold for 7 days.
Imagine if you got the same results and repeated this every month.
Case Study #2: 2,000 subscribers and a $325,000 product launch in 90 days.
Katherine wanted to create a journal that boosted productivity. So she built a list around the topic of journaling for productivity, and created and sold her journal. From start to finish it took her 90 days.
She launched on Kickstarter but used her list to jumpstart the campaign. Thanks to her list, her campaign received $40,000 in 4 days from her list, and the campaign took off from there.
She succeeded because she didn’t try to get everyone on Kickstarter to buy her product. Instead, she focused on her email list, and once she got them to buy, everything else fell into place.
Building your audience first, and then creating the product to sell to them has tremendous advantages.
Plus it’s just plain easier than building the product first, and then trying to find an audience.
Here’s what to do:
Choose your niche – something profitable with lots of interested people, like health and wellness or self-improvement or business.
Choose your sub-niche – the small niche within a niche that you can be the master of, making you the sub-niche ‘leader’ if you will.
Create an offer they crave – this will be your lead magnet to attract people to sign up. NOTE: Sometimes it can be as simple as an announcement list that will tell them when the solution to their problem is available.
Cultivate relationships with your audience. Keep your readers interested by continuing the conversation you’ve already started.
Cultivate real relationships with your peers, so you might gain access to their audiences later.
Validate your idea or offer with your subscribers, to make sure you’re on the right track. Ask for feedback and make any adjustments you see fit.
[Optional: Do a pilot run selling a very limited number of copies at a discount, to get feedback and further refine your product.]
Launch when you have enough subscribers to make it count. The actual number will depend on your topic and niche. You saw from one of the case studies above that it can be done with just 250 subscribers if the topic is narrow enough.