Expert Interviews Feed

A Blogging Schedule is Key for this Barrie Real Estate and Estates Lawyer

Cesia-GreenCesia Green is a Barrie real estate and estates lawyer and a partner with Wall-Armstrong & Green. She blogs at wallarmstrong.wordpress.com/. I asked Cesia to tell me more about her experiences with blogging and the results she's seen.

How did you get into blogging

"I went to a seminar run by Joanna Hoffman of Oomph Group on different ways of marketing for professionals. One thing that came up was using blogs and other digital methods to share knowledge as a way of making connections and therefore clients. At the end of the seminar, I went to my (now) partner with the idea for a practice-related blog."

What were your initial goals for the blog

"My initial goal was to share knowledge. There is a lot of very technical information out there in my practice areas, as well as a lot of fun stories, and I enjoy sharing them with people who might otherwise never come across them."

Have your goals changed as time went on? 

"They haven’t really; I still enjoy blogging primarily as a knowledge-sharing tool. I am always reading other peoples’ blogs and if I come across something interesting, or read an interesting article in the news, one of my first thoughts is how I can reference it in a blog post to better educate my clients and colleagues, both current and potential."

When we met, Cesia also told me that her firm's newsletters are a breeze to put together now that she's blogging. She simply chooses the best blog posts from the previous quarter.

What kind of feedback and responses have you gotten? 

"I often feel like I’m shouting into the wind, so it’s great when I hit on a topic that gets some comments. I was given the opportunity twice to guest post on the livehigh.com blog, which was great. I have also been interviewed for a couple of articles, and occasionally get calls from other lawyers who have had similar issues to mine to discuss how they were resolved."

How do you keep up with blogging on a regular basis? 

"I schedule absolutely everything in my life, and blogging is no exception. I have task reminders set for my two regular posts each week (estates on Tuesdays, real estate on Fridays) and I make sure that I have them up by then. When I’m really organized, I will do a whole lot of writing all at once and pre-schedule the posts."

What are your future plans for the blog? 

"I intend to keep at it! I have always loved writing, and this is a great way for me to do that without the pressure of trying to write something longer for formal publication."

That's good to hear, Cesia. You're helping people understand two complicated areas of the law, and ones that so many of us will run into over the course of our lives.


Read This Before You Set Up Your Blog: An Interview with Scott Gingrich of Piggybank Technology, Part Two

ScottGingrich Welcome back! We've been talking to Scott Gingrich. Scott owns Piggybank Technology, a web design and marketing firm devoted to delighting their customers with marketing websites that deliver measureable results. In Part One of this interview, we discussed why a blog is the only website you'll ever need.

Linda: Do you have any cautionary tales about the mechanics of setting up a blog?

Scott: Many. Here are two.

  1. We had one client who came to us about 4 months after they launched a simple WordPress site with an off-the-shelf template. Their plan had been to start simple and grow the site over time, which is a perfectly valid approach. However, now they wanted to do things with the site that would be really over-reaching what WordPress can do well. They incurred a substantial cost to remake their site with Joomla.

    Lesson: Understand the vision for what you want your website to be over the next couple of years and make sure the platform you choose handles that two-year vision, not just what you want to get started with.
  2. A client with a very popular blogsite had been hacked and there was malicious code throughout his articles and elsewhere. He had never thought twice about securing his WordPress site or keeping it updated. It was a very laborious and expensive exercise to rescue his site.

    Lesson: You may be able to install WordPress in a couple of minutes, but without securing it you may be looking at some extra costs and time down the road.

Linda: What advice do you have for someone who has an existing website and wants to add or transition to a blog?

Scott: We’re doing a lot more website conversions these days. Generally, it’s relatively easy to take an established website and put in a content management system such as Joomla.

We prefer to convert the whole site to be run on a Content Management System like WordPress or Joomla instead of tacking on a blog page to the site. Here's why:

  • Once someone realizes the power in being able to add and edit pages themselves, they’ll want to do that for all pages of their website.
  • We can integrate the blog content into the rest of site, making it more dynamic and interactive (for example, by displaying the most recent blog posts in the sidebar of other pages).
  • You'll get a consistent visitor experience across all sections of the website, which is better for the marketing flow of the site.

Linda: What are the pros and cons of having your blog integrated into your site versus on a separate site?

Scott: This is a big debate. I don’t think there’s one right answer that covers all cases. For most of my clients it comes down to one question: Can you afford to properly set-up and maintain two sites? The answer for most small businesses is NO.

Yes, it’s quick and easy to setup a blogsite. However, to set it up so that it converts visitors into leads (not just followers) is another story…a story that becomes trickier if we need to get visitors to a second site!

As I answer this, I am in the midst of planning a separate blogging site to act as a lead generator for our business and to expand our business model into new revenue streams. In doing this planning, we have considerations such as:

  • Building in lead capture devices (like email opt-ins and Facebook "likes")
  • Keeping the brand consistent with our main site
  • Developing the "voice" for the new site

If you can handle doing two sites well, great. For most local small businesses, maintaining one is more than enough of a challenge!

Linda: Thanks again to Scott Gingrich, and his wife and co-owner Jennifer Gingrich. I really value the connection we've made since I moved to Barrie in September 2010. You do great work in helping local business owners set up a website right the first time, or rescuing them from situations where they had a bad start.


Why a Blog is the Only Website You'll Ever Need: An Interview with Scott Gingrich of Piggybank Technology, Part One

ScottGingrich Scott Gingrich owns Piggybank Technology, a web design and marketing firm devoted to delighting their customers with marketing websites that deliver measureable results. Scott and his wife and co-owner Jennifer have been marketing their own businesses on the Internet since the early 90’s and now bring those years of experience to every web marketing project they do.

Scott says, "Before we created websites for other people, we were running our own web-based businesses to put food on the family table and we learned very quickly that our web marketing better work!"

Linda: Welcome, Scott! So what are some of the benefits of having a blog as your website?

Scott: With content management systems such as Joomla and Wordpress, your site can be more than just a blog. By adding the extra elements that these systems offer, your "blogsite" (combination of blog and website) truly is the only website you'll ever need.

My clients are mostly local businesses and their main reason to have a website is to generate qualified leads. To accomplish that objective, the website must serve two key functions:

  1. Attract qualified visitors (i.e., people who live in their area and are looking for information relevant to the company’s offerings)
  2. Convert those visitors into leads (prospective clients or customers)

Well-written blog content can certainly attract the qualified visitors. But when it comes to converting those visitors into leads, we'll need to bring in those additional elements I mentioned earlier – additional pages with:

  • Overview of services
  • Portfolio of project samples
  • Testimonials from happy clients or customers
  • Biographical information about the business owner
  • Background information about the business
  • Sales/order page with shopping card/payment buttons

Let’s look more closely at two scenarios:

  1. Visitor hears of a business and goes to their website. Perhaps they were referred there by a friend or found the website address on a business card. This potential customer is going to the website to "check out" that business. Looking at website statistics, we know that these visitors will often first check out pages such as Portfolio, Services and Testimonials before going to the blog.
  2. Visitor finds a blog post article through a Google Search. If this visitor is to wind up as a lead for the local business, we know that the visitor must take an action (e.g., read more about services, sign up for a mailing list, contact the business owner directly) before leaving to browse the next site that came up in the Google Search.

In both scenarios, the blog article attracts visitors and builds trust and credibility. However, without pages like Services, About Us, etc. there is a much smaller chance of conversion. You need both.

Linda: What options does Piggybank Technology have for someone who wants to launch their web presence with a blog?

Scott: We work with both Joomla and WordPress. Whether starting out with a simple blogsite or launching a more sophisticated site that also incorporates blogging, we have packages that suit.

We also build in best practices from the start, which can have a huge impact on a site’s results. Important things like:

  • Enhanced security protocol
  • Coded to be search engine-friendly
  • Built-in social sharing and RSS feeds
  • Marketing intelligence based on your goals (for example, if you want people to call you, we'll make sure your phone number is prominently displayed on every page)
  • Choosing stable, secure extensions (third-party applications and plugins) that have a good track record for upgrades and support

Business owners can call us and we’ll have a conversation about your objectives, so we can put together the best plan for your budget and goals.  

Linda: Thanks, Scott! Stay tuned for Part Two of this interview series, Read This Before You Set Up Your Blog. In the meantime, here is another blog post with some simple writing tips for your blogsite pages.


Keep writing great content and people will notice!

Alyssa Gregory has just been named the Small Business Information Guide of About.com, one of the largest producers of original content on the Web.

Alyssa worked with us a bit here back when we were You Talk, I'll Write, and she also features the Style Guide in her online store at the Virtual Assistant Hub.

I asked Alyssa about her experience with content marketing and how it led to this new frontier for her business.

1. How did you leverage your formidable body of online content to demonstrate to About.com that you are an expert on this topic?

Great question! It certainly can be a challenge to get an extensive body of content to work for you and not against you. Hundreds of articles can be overwhelming for the reader to see, and it's equally overwhelming for the writer to show the quality of the portfolio and not just the quantity.

I tried to zero in on the pieces I considered the most relevant and effective, and use the rest as a collective summary of my writing experience, bolstering the samples I sent in. Luckily, it worked!

2. What are your secrets for continuing to publish great content on a consistent basis?

It's hard when you're on the spot and feel pressured to spit out good content on demand. And that's what it can feel like at times when you write for multiple outlets on a daily or weekly basis.

There are three things I do to try to prevent the pressured feeling from creeping in.

First, I plan in advance. At least one week in advance, I'll go through all of my writing responsibilities and create a mini editorial calendar outlining what I will be writing about each day. This can take some time, but it really streamlines the process when it's time to get writing.

If I have a little extra time, I'll go a bit deeper and outline each article, do some preliminary research, and take time for some brainstorming so I have a running start when publication day comes. Ideally, I would love to write a number of pieces in advance, but this rarely happens with my schedule!

The second thing I do is keep a running idea file. I use it to keep track of everything from posts I read that inspire me, thoughts I have during the day, articles I want to write, etc. My full list usually has around 200 items on it at any given time, so I have a flexible list of material to pull from for when I do my planning. And since most of my writing is on small business topics, I can mix and match ideas for different sites.

Finally, I have found that it pays to be open minded when it comes to ideas. Inspiration can come from anywhere -- blogs, comments, commercials, magazines, kids. If you're receptive to taking in new things and can think broadly enough to relate it back to your topic, you may be surprised when an idea hits you.

3. How do you manage your ideas?

I use Evernote to maintain my idea file. It works great because it automatically syncs from my PC to my Mac. I can also access and add to my list from my BlackBerry so I don't have to worry about losing ideas that come to me when I'm doing other things. Here is more information on how I use Evernote for idea management: http://www.sitepoint.com/how-i-use-evernote-to-manage-my-ideas/

Congratulations, Alyssa - keep up the great content! And I know you will.


What's in a (domain) name? Carma Spence-Pothitt and her Home Sweet Home Page book

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This week marks the launch of my friend Carma Spence-Pothitt's book, Home Sweet Home Page: The 5 Deadly Mistakes Authors, Speakers and Coaches Make with Their Website's Home Page and How to Fix Them!

The subtitle may sound dire, but the book sure isn't! Even though she is an accomplished website and graphic design professional AND Internet marketer, Carma speaks in plain English and keeps things simple.

And she still includes pretty much everything I would want you to know about building an effective online presence - and how to do it right from the start!

I asked Carma to stop by the Idea Generator blog and answer a few questions about how to choose a domain name - here's how our conversation went:

Domain names - can they be too long or too short?

Carma: Yes. You want to have a domain name that provides enough information to pique interest, but not so much that it's difficult to remember. For example, "Jane.com" probably is too short ... although it is easy to remember, it just doesn't provide enough information.

That said, if the domain is "JaneDoeLifeCoachToOlympians.com," while it might be giving enough information to help visitors understand what Jane Doe is all about, it can also be so long that it is hard to remember.

Probably "JaneDoe.com" or "LifeCoachToOlympians.com" would be the best choice. The first helps brand Jane's name, the second is focused on what she does.

Should you use your personal name, business name, product name or service name in your domain name?

Carma: Yes. Which one you use depends solely on your long-term purpose and goals for the website. Ask yourself, "What do you want to brand?" If you want to brand your name and you don't think you'll be selling your business in the future, then go with your name.

However, if you want to have a business that you can eventually sell, you might be better served by a domain that has your business name in it.

My philosophy about domains focused on products or services is that these are secondary sites. They are focused solely on promoting the product or service ... and hope that the entrepreneurs reading this have more than one product or service to promote.

What do keywords have to do with your domain name?

Carma: When a search engine ranks a website in the search results, domains with key words in them are more likely to rank higher. So, by simply having your key words in your domain, you can actually improve your search engine ranking.

In fact, I recommend that when you are coming up with a name for a new product or service, do the key word research first. Then purchase a domain name with your best key word phrase, and call your new product or service that. It will make SEO easier and you'll be guaranteed that people are searching the Internet for something like your product or service.

What are the characteristics of a strong domain name?

Carma: The strongest domains are easy to remember. It's that simple. Sometimes you have to make compromises to accomplish this, but as long as you have your ideal clients in mind when you create your domain, you should do O.K.


Thanks for dropping by, Carma! I know it's a busy time for you, with the big party going on over at the Home Sweet Home Page book launch page. Folks, drop by Carma's party between now and April 1st to claim your free gifts and the chance to win a 30-minute live editing "Writing Lab" session with yours truly!

Disclaimer: Please note that I received a complimentary digital review copy of this book.


Social networking beyond the link: 5 ways to turn your blog post or article into a conversation starter

In today's post I chat with social networking and marketing implementation specialist Kristen Beireis of the Coaches' Marketing Source.

Linda: Kristen, I've never heard the term "conversation starter" before, related to social networking or content generation. What's the difference between a conversation starter and a regular status update?

Kristen: A conversation starter is intended to get a discussion going. It's not an "in the moment" or "this is what I'm doing" post, like a regular status update would be. This is a pre-planned update that is meant to stimulate a conversation with those in your network.

Linda: My new blog posts and ezines are automatically posted to my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts already - why isn't that enough?

Kristen: Blog posts are great information and should be posted to your accounts, but there is  much more you can do. Posting a blog link just says "read this," and constantly broadcasting to your network can really get people to tune out. I'm sure there's a conversation to be had around your blog post - you just need to find a way to invite people to engage in that discussion with you. That will get them tuned back in.

Linda: Great points, Kristen! So how do we do it?

Kristen: Expand on the content in your original blog post or article, and take it just a bit further. For example, you can:

  1. Ask questions that get a conversation going around the topic.
  2. Post controversial statements that get people to think about the topic.
  3. Start a conversation with a colleague to ask their opinion about the topic (you might want to email them privately first to let them know you'll be doing this).
  4. Post quotes from some of the comments you received on the blog or by email (ask permission first for the email comments!)
  5. Ask people to share stories if they can relate to what your piece was about.

You can also include some "teaser" posts with links, the same kind of thing you might use as a promo or introduction in an article directory, but keep those to a minimum and focus on interacting with your network. People get tired of seeing those links all the time.

The point here is to create an engaging discussion around a topic that you are an expert in.

Wow, thanks so much to Kristen Beireis for stopping by and enlightening us about how go "beyond the link" when we share our content on social networking sites.


WHY grow your list? Linda Claire Puig explains...

This is a guest post by Linda Claire Puig, my co-counselor for the Pink Spoon Telecamp:

WHY Grow Your List? (Count the Many Ways)

by Linda Claire Puig, president, Claire Communications

List-building tips are all over the Internet these days. You can learn for free (including my Momentum articles from June 30, 2008, and July 10, 2009), you can buy e-books on the topic or you can take high-priced courses.

But are you really clear on WHY it's important to continually focus on growing your list?

When you understand what's possible with a bigger list--not just a bigger list, but a bigger relevant list--you open to new potential...for your business, for your life.

Sign me up!It's easiest to explain with an example. Let's say you have a list of 200 people that you keep in touch with on a regular basis. (You are sending a newsletter, aren't you?) You decide to run a $350 group program and announce it to your list by sending a promotional email. Seven people sign up and earn you a total of $2,450.

In marketing circles, those seven new clients represent a very good "conversion rate" of 3.5%. Conversion rate is the ratio of people who purchase to the total number of people on your list.

Now let's say your list grows to 3,000 (still a relatively modest list size), and you offer the same $350 group program. If your 3.5% conversion rate remains the same, you will now sign up 105 new members for your group, for a total earnings of $36,750. You may have to run concurrent groups to accommodate all the new business, a nice problem to have!

But even if your conversion rate dropped to 2%, you'd still sign up 60 new members for your group, for a total of $21,000 in earnings.

So $2,450 vs. $21,000...FOR THE SAME AMOUNT OF PROMOTIONAL EFFORT!

Three important mentions here:

1) It's NOT all about a having a HUGE list. Smaller lists can be more responsive than their bigger counterparts. So decide on your income goals, determine your conversion rate history and let that help you determine how big you want to grow your list.

2) Don't forget that while you may attach numbers to your goals, building your list is ultimately NOT a numbers game. It's about building relationships with people who you would like the opportunity to serve. If you approach it this way, you will have a growing list that is always a relevant list.

3) Your list will not grow just because you wish it so. You may set a list-building goal for your year, but you won't meet it unless you take specific, focused action toward that goal. The very FIRST place to start is to have a great pink spoon...something that addresses a pressing need for your audience that you can give away in exchange for their contact information.

There are other reasons to grow your list that go way beyond numbers and dollars. Tell me, how do you help people? What are your gifts? With a larger list, your influence and your ability to help more people also grows.

Bottom line: No one is served by your list (or you!) remaining small.

------------------------

To learn more about what makes a great pink spoon, how to use it to grow your list and generate more business -- and to create your own pink spoon under the guidance of two marketing communications experts -- please register for the Pink Spoon Telecamp.


Blog Hopping Virtual Assistant Sharon Willams drops by to chat about upcoming Online International Virtual Assistants Convention

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Next month, I'll be speaking at OIVAC 2009 (OIVAC is the Online International Virtual Assistants Convention). I've checked out this event in previous years and I was blown away by the technology. It really is like attending a conference - but without the travel and big expense.

The event runs from Thursday, May 14-Saturday, May 16, 2009, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, daily, and my session is on Saturday, May 16th at 8:30 a.m. [Update: This conference was rescheduled and will now take place on Thursday, October 1st until Saturday, October 3rd, with my presentation taking place on Saturday, October 3rd at 8:30 a.m.]

Since it's my first year as a speaker, I wanted to find out a bit more about the event, so I agreed to be part of the OIVAC blog hopping tour and get my questions answered. Here is my interview with OIVAC founder, VA Sharon Williams.

Linda Dessau: What is the OIVAC?

Sharon Williams: The Online International Virtual Assistants Convention (OIVAC) is the yearly celebration of the launching of the virtual assistance industry. It is an opportunity for VAs to increase their knowledge and skills by participating in educational seminars, workshops, training and networking sessions led by experienced VAs, industry and technology experts, and niche-specific entrepreneurs. In addition, we celebrate International Virtual Assistants Day (IVAD), the 3rd Friday of the month. On this day, we acknowledge VAs for their Dedication, Experience, Expertise and Determination to Succeed.

As you can see, OIVAC is a great opportunity for the industry to “come together” and increase our knowledge, skills and abilities. But, it’s not all work and no fun – we host several online networking events and giveaway fabulous prizes donated by VAs, exhibitors and small businesses that work closely with the industry.

LD: Should other business owners besides VAs be attending?

SW: Absolutely! We have assembled 35+ exceptional presenters, offering the newest information about technology trends, Web 2.0 social marketing, branding, website development, Quickbooks, SEO, Google Analytics, and much, much, more – all subjects to aid entrepreneurs (not just VAs) in developing and growing their businesses. In addition, we are hosting 2 free and open to the public “Intro to the Virtual Assistants Industry” sessions. Entrepreneurs are invited to attend, ask questions, and learn how VAs can reduce their administrative and Internet-related workload, freeing them to handle responsibilities that fuel their passion. Check out the OIVAC schedule for seminar dates and times.

LD: Can you describe some of the technology behind this virtual conference? 

SW: Seminars are conducted in VoIP, PC and Mac accessible meeting rooms. They are equipped with whiteboarding, web browsing, sharing of PowerPoint slides, desktop sharing and audio –visual capture capabilities. All sessions will be recorded for download and later listening opportunities. The exhibitor halls are equipped with 10-seat VoIP meeting rooms which can be manned by staff, volunteers, etc., designer exhibitor spaces, email message capabilities, video, PowerPoint, pdf, document, podcast, download facilities. We even have bathrooms with all the amenities expected when attending a traditional brick and mortar convention. Note: Exhibitor halls will be open 24/7 for browsing, chat and download of vendor giveaways.

LD: What favourite piece of technology have you discovered from putting on this conference that you are using in your own business today?

SW: Wow! VAs use all of these technologies on a daily basis, and have introduced them to many of their clients. One favorite is the VoIP meeting rooms, where we hold recorded seminars and one-on-one sessions. As VAs stay abreast of the newest innovations, we test and recommend technology to clients that may enhance their operation and business growth. 

LD: Thanks for your time, Sharon! What's next for your blog hopping tour?

SW: I’m glad I was able to stop by and visit for a bit. However, it’s time to move to my next stop, let me remind followers that we stopped by VAnetworking.com yesterday and tomorrow, we’ll be visiting Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant.com. Before I leave, here’s the second puzzle clue: einssbus. Stop by VAnetworking.com to obtain yesterday’s clue.

  




Help for travelers who write

I recently sat down for an email interview with travel writer Wendy VanHatten. It was part of a blog book tour to celebrate the launch of her book, Travel Writing as a Freelancer.

Linda: You must love traveling. When/how did you first get the idea to turn your passion into an income stream?

Wendy: I started traveling at age 5 and haven't stopped. When we were young, my parents "required" us to keep notebooks of our travels. When my corporate America job in health care was eliminated, a friend suggested I get back into writing. I looked around and decide to try travel writing. After taking some travel writing courses and workshops I knew it was a good fit. You need to work and work to make money at it and that’s ok. I have branched out into speaking, writing books and ebooks, teaching writing, editing other writers’ works, photography, and now an online travel business. It all fits together!

Linda: How does travel writing compare to other styles of writing?

Wendy: Travel writing is similar yet different. You still need to “sell” something, but some times you are only selling a “picture” in the reader’s mind. You write to entice readers to go to a place. You write to give armchair travelers a complete picture of that place. You write about a place because you love it. That doesn’t mean, however, you can write a “what I did on my vacation” story. People really don’t want to read that! That is the hard part of editing a new writer’s works.

Linda: What are one or two techniques that travel writers use to connect with their readers?

Wendy: I think being able to describe for your reader a vivid picture is one of the hardest, especially for new writers. You need to learn the technique of talking about the most beautiful beach you have ever seen in a way that your reader can SEE it. In other words, you need to learn to “show”…not just “tell” your reader about that beach. Another technique is to develop your own style. I use humor. Depending upon the publication, find a style or a niche that works for you and perfect it. Most of my articles have a piece of humor in them. It may be subtle, but it’s there.

Linda: I prefer to be an armchair traveler (I loved “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Eat, Pray, Love”). Can you offer an opinion of why travel books are so compelling?

Wendy: I think everyone wants to travel…some in person, some as an armchair traveler. It’s the curiosity in us. I truly have never had anyone tell me they are trying to cut traveling out of their lives. We all want to know what the rest of the world looks like, how other people dress, what they ate for breakfast, or how hot it is in the desert. Usually travel books and articles have wonderful photos. I believe we all love seeing great photos of some far away place or some place we may have been. Isn’t it fun to see a castle in Germany or the top of a ski slope in Colorado and say “I’ve been there”?

I read through a review copy of Wendy's book and a lot of the content is relevant no matter what kind of writing you're doing. It includes some gems about success as a freelancer (self-discipline is key, I hear you there, Wendy!), writing query letters and telling a good story.

Plus, there is an incredibly useful explanation of the different kinds of "rights" that you may be asked to sell when you have an article published in a magazine.

As an armchair traveler, I found that I got the same vicarious thrill from reading about travel writing that I do from reading about travel. I wasn't expecting that!

You can follow along with Wendy’s travels at http://travelsandescapes.blogspot.ca/.


Alicia Forest talks about how to create the information products that your target market wants to buy

Linda: Is there a way to ask your prospective clients directly what it would take for them to become a customer or client?

Alicia: Sure – that’s where your email list of potential clients and customers comes into play. I think there’s still lots of solo business owners who don’t quite grasp that building that email list is critical in creating an online business that produces income consistently.

I survey my email list, usually once a year, where I give them actually topics, programs, and the like to choose from (and they can add their own ideas as well), and I use that information to inform my offerings for the next several months or so.

I also ask periodically on discussion lists and forums that are made up of the solo business owners I work with. Plus, I ask “what’s your biggest challenge with building your business online” to everyone who signs up for my Creating Client Abundance ezine.

Linda: How do you make sure you’re creating the specific information products that your market REALLY wants and will buy?

Alicia: I’m really glad you asked this question, Linda, because this will be a huge shift for some folks listening to this – especially for those who aren’t make the number of sales they’d like to.

What I see happen a lot is that many solo business owners create products/programs/services that they think their prospects need - offerings that seem the most logical to them that will help their prospects do, be or have better - but then they can't seem to sell many - or any of what they put out there.

There are three important factors to creating a profitable product for your niche:

1. Always know your niche before you begin to sell them anything.

Get inside their heads, feel what they are feeling, enter the conversation on your niche’s mind, and intimately understand the problems that your niche is experiencing. The more you are able to do that, the more effectively you’ll be able to create what it is that they want.

2. It's not what you want to sell that matters. It's what your niche wants to buy that matters.

It’s actually irrelevant what it is that YOU want to sell to them – at least in the beginning of your relationship with your potential client or customer.

You may have already learned this lesson. I know I have, where I got so excited about creating something that I thought would be great for my niche, and I went ahead and put it together, and then watched in dismay as hardly anyone bought it.

On the flipside, when I created 21 Easy & Essential Steps to Online Success System™, I was asking my niche all along what its biggest challenges were, and asking them what they wanted, and then I continually asked them what they wanted to so I could be certain I provided it for them – and my results this time were hugely different. Over 40% of my list bought the first edition of 21 Steps (which is an incredible conversion rate, by the way!).

3. Give them what they want now so you can give them what YOU want later.

To give you an example, I’m in the process of writing a book, which answers many of the challenges my niche is struggling with, and much more, but I didn’t specifically ask them if they wanted a print book to help them solve their problems.

Yet writing and publishing a print book is something that I’ve really wanted to do, and I feel confident that this particular product will sell because of three things:

(i) It solves the problems my niche has told me it wants solved. So, over time, I’ve already done my research to know this.

(ii) It’s a first-level funnel offering (< $50). It’s much less risky to create and offer something that you haven’t specifically asked your niche if it wants it if it’s a low-ticket item. I’d never put together a more complex product like a multi-media package or live event before making sure it’s something that a significant number of my list would be interested in enough to invest in it.

(iii) Because there’s a certain percentage of my list who’ve bought something from me before, so from that I can take an educated guess a certain percentage of those people will also buy the book.

If you will only ask your market, it wants to help you create the products it wants to buy!

Thanks, Alicia, for all of these great gems!