Hey there Sea Changers and welcome back to my series of posts outlining ways and means to create yourself an online business to fund that sea change. Today’s topic is one that, depending on your views and experiences, is maybe the most contentious subject that I have covered to date in online personal development. Now as I say, depending on who you talk to, this is one of the best, worst or shonky online businesses around so why don’t we check out how to make money in the online personal development niche…
How do we get started?
Ok, so let’s get into this from the beginning. I have mentioned already within this post the word shonky (and you could add scam) which it comes to personal development. Now this doesn’t mean that the whole industry is corrupt – I mean Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi do ok – but it is an area where people tend to think that there is a quick buck to be made. I saw a comment on an online entrepreneurial FaceBook Group a while back that said “Hey guys, I am looking to set up a FaceBook marketing course, can anyone suggest ways I could promote this?” – I kid you not. And don’;t get me started on those “I can make you $1000000 for 10 minutes work a day” sites.
That said, personal development does fit into one of the 5 most popular niches for online marketers as well as one that has few start up costs so there has to be some potential there. I would hate however to convince anybody to start their own online personal development business and have it fall away due to the fact that there is not a market for it online – although let’s be honest, this market has come about because it can be promoted and purchased online. But anyway, let’s see what people are searching for:
What are people looking for?
To start let’s just confirm our market numbers:
1. Number of monthly searches
As we are looking to see if there is an interest in personal development related products and services online, let’s start by checking for niche related searches. You will need to find yourself a good keyword tool (I use Jaaxy) and enter in the keywords that best describe your market. In this case, we will start with the basics:
Interesting – no large numbered searches there but a real lot of variations (the search results go down quite far with search variations) – This could mean a number of things so let’s try our search a little differently:
So we can see here that monthly searches for online course have great numbers which opens up some good market and starts to show a few niche ideas as well such as in specific subjects or schools. Let’s now look at this from a different angle in regards to the specific people:
Ok, I probably cheated a bit here as he is a known globally but over 40k monthly searches for Tony Robbins has to provide something in terms of what is possible. (Dean Graziosi 8000, Brooke Castillo 2000, Russell Brunson 6000).
2. Search Trends
Another important aspect of online sales and niche selection is to check that interest is maintained over time. To gain an insight into this let’s check out how the searches for a few of our personal development related products are trending online.
So, good numbers here with interest maintained well over the past 5 years. There are no discernible trends making it a good year round proposition. And as it was with our keyword searches, it looks that people search for online courses more so that ‘personal development’. Just something to keep in mind I guess.
Based on these figures, and the search results above, I really see a good opportunity here.
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What is our niche?
Ok, now the fun part begins – In the statistics and screen dumps above, we can already see some of the interest in different niches within the online personal development or online course market. But what is the personal development niche all about? The decision you have now is to determine whether you wish to create your online business covering personal development in general or concentrate on a specific area, subject or sub niche. There are a good number of different areas you could explore here – and off the top of my head, some examples include:
- Professional development – General
- Professional development – specific subjects or teachers
- Online courses – General
- Online courses – Specific subjects (such as investment or focused tasks)
- Online course – Schools
- Online hobby tuition/demonstrations
- Daily self-help work
- Professional self-help
And that is just a few off the top of my head – all of which can be marketed from the point of view of the writer, or simply as a means of supplying information to those looking to gain access to those services. From the search numbers above, it does look to me however that this is one subject where it may pay to zero in on a particular sub-niche so as you start to think about this, the question to ask yourself is whether the content you are covering is too large to cover effectively.
The risk here is that if you start with a niche that is too broad, you may not be able to cover everything to the level required or to become authority on the subject – which you will need to be if you are going to convince people to purchase from you and not elsewhere. Don’t forget, you can always add a new section to your site as you grow as well.
As you work through narrowing your targeted niche, consider the following:
- Are you able to solve a problem – Most people undertake searches on the internet to solve a problem – see next section.
- Is it a subject that you have an interest, or knowledge in– I am guessing that you are in this post as you know about, or have an interest in online education or the subject that you are thinking of covering. If you don’t have these, maybe consider another market as, to be honest, you might struggle to produce solid content if you don’t know much about it- or worse, have no interest in it at all. Trust me, people are already skeptical when it comes to online personal development and will know immediately if your information is not up to scratch or even worse, purely designed to rip them off.
Let’s investigate this a little further by discussing the problem solving elements of niche selection.
Do you have your own niche in mind? Enter your keywords below to checkout your ideas…
What problem are we solving?
If this is a niche that you are interested in, you may already know what it is that you are trying to sell. If not, then maybe start to look at it from the perspective of solving problems. This, added to your area of interest is a great way to work out exactly what you think you might like to base your online business upon.
Think about your own search behaviours when you are online – I would hazard a guess that most searches you do are in order to solve a problem. Now think of this in a manner in which someone might have problems within the greater personal development niche such as:
- You know that you want to online training but just don’t know how it all really works.
- You have a problem and need a solution – I.e. “I am looking to start an online business selling CBD oil but don’t know where to begin”.
Your goal here is to determine just what problem/s you are trying to solve for your readers. This maybe one problem that spans your site or differ for each post that you write. For example, if you have chosen online business courses for your niche, then problems might be:
- Matching products to use– They want to know which online business courses would be best for their industry.
- Which to buy – There are a number of online business courses on the market – but which is best?
In these cases, people would be searching for those topics based on having a problem and needing a solution. Your site would outline and review the best options for them.
Alternatively, if your site is about assisting someone to set up an online business then you could look into the following:
- What courses/platforms will give them the best chance of success.
- What to look for in a good online course.
- What course types to avoid.
- How much is too much (or too little) to pay.
- What help can be obtained for free.
- Comparison of different courses etc.
Note: You do not need to identify every possible problem that your readers may have straight away. In many cases, the more you write, the more ‘problems’ will present themselves so initially you really just want to make sure that there are some that may need solving as we have found here.
How are you going to convince them to buy?
Now that we know our niche (or are at least working on it) and have an idea of the types of problems that we want to solve, there is one last thing to consider which is the online purchase behaviour of your targeted audience.
The first group that comes to mind are those new to online courses. Then there are the professional online marketers who are looking for strategies to give them a little edge over their competition? Oh, and don’t forget the industry specialists who need to keep on top of changes within their own professions. Your sales/post pitches not only need to match the needs and problems that your site visitors are looking to solve, but also target them specifically as well. Some examples include:
- Those that are new to the world of online professional development will want to know exactly what they are getting in to and what they need to do.
- The marketing professionals will want specs and details – they will dissect your reviews with a fine toothed comb.
- Industry professionals will need assurance that everything they are using is not only going to assist them with their own careers, but meets all vocational regulations, guidelines and legislative influences as well.
Oh, and if the course outlines that participants will receive a degree, diploma or like then ensure it is legitimate and within the guidelines of their relevant geographical educational specifications. And finally, even though we do have purchaser behaviour on our side, to be successful in selling personal development products online, consider the following:
- Solve problems without purchase – That’s right – write your posts in a way that actually makes it easier for people to do their research and buy elsewhere – by doing this, you are solving problems and helping readers out. If they trust you, they will be more likely to return next time and buy from you then – especially if you follow up with posts on similar or compatible products or accessories that might interest them!
- Provide the intangibles – One major disadvantage when it comes to selling anything online is that we can’t really know what the products look, feel, smell and taste like. Whilst this is not as prevalent obviously within an online course, ensure that any of the other intangibles are outlined – i.e. what does the course documentation, websites etc. look like or are there any physical tools utilised as well.
- Know your audience – A big mistake many make here is to target the product and not necessarily the buyer. This is especially important when dealing with products such as this. It is very easy for example to get carried away explaining how great a product is because it is cheaper than the others all the while forgetting that those intending to use it will need it to meet certain industry buildings as well. The same goes for high end options… Expensive doesn’t always mean that it gets better results. Make sure you do your research on the buying behaviours of those you are targeting before writing your posts.
Tip: Still not sure? Have a look and see what others are doing. It might just help you with some ideas.
How do we sell personal development products online?
And then we come to probably the most important aspect of this whole online selling caper in that we need to consider how we are going to sell the products that we have decided to promote. When it comes to online personal development, there are pretty much two ways that you can go:
- Sell the courses that others have created
- Sell the courses that you have created yourself
Let’s explore them below:
Sell the courses of others (affiliate marketing)
When it comes to selling personal development courses that others have created, one of the most effective ways to do this is via Affiliate Marketing Programs. These programs are setup directly by companies that allow you to join and then refer traffic to them via customised affiliate links. In short, this means that you will write about their professional development programs or online courses (and the problems they will solve) and then refer your readers to a link where they will purchase directly from the vendors. The vendors then pay you a commission for the sale.
Affiliate programs are especially good for those selling personal development products (such as online courses or platforms etc.) online as you can promote/review the latest courses and then refer your readers to the vendor to manage the sale without you having to create any materials or ship text books etc.
Finding affiliate programs is generally not a difficult task either. To locate them, you would normally just type “Affiliate: personal development” into your preferred search engine.
So, as you can see, there are plenty of options in regards to affiliate programs for online courses within the personal development niche. As you search through them all, you can check it all out and find programs that:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have quality products – your brand can be severely damaged if you promote poor quality or unhelpful products (known in this industry as scams).
- Have solid payment and customer service arrangements.
- Pay decent commissions.
- Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.
- Whether they have high ticket items you can promote on the side.
In most cases, you will need to apply for the program before you are allowed to promote their products – don’t take this step lightly or you will be rejected. Affiliate programs will generally want to know:
- Your website name.
- Traffic levels.
- Why you want to join – (“so I can make money by selling your writing course” is unfortunately not generally a good enough answer).
- How you plan to promote their products.
One thing to be aware of here I guess is to keep in mind the issues we discussed earlier in regards to online personal development products. You need to make sure that the programs you choose can be trusted and that the consumer is comfortable that they have recourse if something goes wrong. For this reason you will need to make sure that your chosen programs are going to resonate with your readers and your niche.
Sell your own
If affiliate marketing is not your cup of tea and you have a particular skill or talent that you would like to share with the world, maybe you could try building your own online course or professional development program. This process is especially popular within the online world with computer based courses available to teach you anything you like in just about any niche you can think of.
This process obviously requires a lot more work in that the course will need to be built in order to sell however in general, the following steps are required:
1. Choose your subject – As we have mentioned, this can be anything you can think of. Just make sure you know enough about it to make your content worthwhile (remember – we are taking the non-scam route here)
2. Check interest – Just as we checked online market statistics at the beginning of this post to see if there was an interest in personal development options inline, you will also need to make sure that there is an interest in the materials that you are providing. Check such areas as:
- Online searches
- Non-electronic options
- Current events that would push people to online courses
3. Do your research – We mentioned earlier the importance of ensuring that your content is going to meet the needs of your readers. The biggest mistake that many creators of online professional development materials make is to assume they know it all. Research the topic completely to ensure that all areas are covered as well as any industry specific requirements as necessary.
4. Create your course outline – this is really just to make sure that all required areas and topics from your research are covered. If possible, run it by another with knowledge in your field of expertise to ensure that you haven’t missed anything.
5. Choose your media – We will discuss this a little more in the next section but before you start to build your content in any major form, consider the media you wish to use (and maybe even think a little ahead to how you are going to market it). There are so many options here and choices will obviously be influenced on what type of program you are developing however some common options include:
- Your own website
- YouTube/Social Media
- Funnel/webinar platforms such as Clickfunnels
- Online training platforms such as Udemy
- Marketplace platforms such as Clickbank
I know this is a little of a chicken and egg scenario, but many of these platforms contain their own editing functionality so it pays to think about how you are going to present it in conjunction with the authoring tools to utilise. Most of them will also assist you in getting your content online as well.
6. Set a Price – Ok, so how much are you going to charge for your program? Is it membership based or a once off? Will you provide a tiered price scale with upsells? These are all of the questions that need to be answered as you release your course out there for the world to learn from. When setting the price for your personal development course, consider the following:
- How much is everyone else charging? – This will obviously assist with the setting of the market price. Oh, and have a look at what they provide for that cost as well – see if you can ‘out-value’ them?
- What are you providing? – Be realistic here, value is key and even if the content will make someone a millionaire overnight, if it is a one page PDF doc then people will not see value in a high cost. Think about your content – online tools and work spaces will obviously allow you to charge more. Think about the outcomes and what you honestly feel is a fair price.
- How many problems are you solving? – We have mentioned the importance of solving problems. At the end of the day, take an honest look to see if you are solving problems. Many think they are, but at the end of the course, the purchaser should be able to complete the task that they have paid for without needing to look further.
- What else do they need to buy? – There is nothing more frustrating than purchasing an online course that promises the world only to find that you need to purchase 5 more pieces of software in order to complete it. Not only is this an ethical influence, but also could determine the cost if you know purchasers will need to spend more $$ elsewhere.
7. Release and market your course – You may have worked this though when working out the media you were planning to user however this is another important area of consideration. You will need to have an understanding of how you plan to market your new course in order to sell people into it. When dealing in the online world, there are a number of ways to do this:
- Paid advertising – buying ad space on social media, search engines or web hosting platforms
- Social media – if you have a good following, then you can advertise on your social media accounts or groups
- Email marketing – again, if you have a good list – send them all an email
- Blogging – this takes longer but can definitely pay off in the long run. Use your website posts to attract readers via SEO processes who can then purchase from you there.
At the end of the day, make sure that you provide value, clear outcomes and support to your purchasers. Remember, the content of most courses out there can be found online for free so you will need to make sure there your offering is worthy of the cost paid for it – otherwise chances are you will end up on the wrong side of a review post written by another blogger looking to assist people with their online journeys.
What do we need to do?
Once we have all of the above sorted, or at the very least a plan in place, we need to choose and setup the media that we intend to use to sell our product. This can include:
Build a Website
Regardless of whether you are looking to build your online business as an affiliate marketer or content creator, then chances are you will most probably need a website. Websites allow you to solve problems via blog posts and videos that people can view in order to identify the solutions that they need. Usually, this process is fairly straight forward in that you build your website, write posts (on the differences between certain types of mindfulness courses for example), then provide links so that your readers can view/purchase the relevant materials from your links.
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Promote on Social Media
When it comes to personal development online, there is a no more powerful platform than social media. It has the power to reach thousands and allows you to target specific segments if you choose the correct platform. In terms of online training products, a good platform to start with is FaceBook where you can discuss all things to do with your course with your audience, display items in use, show videos and add little ‘bonuses’ with your members.
However, if you are looking to set yourself up as an expert within the niche, then Instagram and YouTube will be your absolute best friend – some even use these platforms without a website. These are great for visuals such as pictures and/or videos showing you discussing, sourcing, preparing, making, cooking, building, explaining, demonstrating everything to do with your chosen training subject and platform.
Join like-minded groups
Anther great tool when it comes to selling products online are social groups. By getting involved with these groups you can really get a great understanding as to what its members are struggling with, what information they seek and what products they are looking to buy. Below is an example of personal development related FaceBook groups:
Note: Many of these groups will not allow you to spruike or promote your sites directly, however if you can interact and demonstrate your knowledge then people will ask you directly for the information. At the very least, as above, it is a great way to get ideas and insight into what people in this area really want to know about and what they are buying online.
And there it is – How to make money in the online personal development niche. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, need some advice or have any experiences to share.
Do you want further assistance with any of the above or need help to build your own personal development related website?
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Until next time
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