What Can You Sell to Make Money?
I was trying (without success) to get tickets online to a Tragically Hip concert a couple of weeks ago and as I was doing so I thought back to the days when we used to call a phone number to get tickets, or lined up to pay for them. We still can, but not often. Buying tickets through websites is part of the new economy.
I’m also stepping into the world of making money online and wanted to share my experiences in this week’s blog and tell you how you can also make money online by sharing your knowledge and expertise. Wouldn’t it be great to wake up in the morning and find more money in your bank account from some online sales while you were sleeping? Here’s how.
Wading Into the Online World With No Fears
First some background to my story. This past January my friend and mentor Hugh Culver spoke at an event of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) Edmonton and challenged everyone in attendance to start thinking about creating products that they can sell to bring in revenue in addition to their work as speakers or trainers. I’ve learned from experience that if Hugh suggests something it’s a good idea. I started thinking about it and doing some research. In April, fellow CAPS member Martin Latulippe of New Brunswick conducted a webinar where he talked about how he’s been able to build his following and suggested using a website called Kajabi to host products for sale.
The seed that Hugh had planted in January started to grow quickly and within a week I had decided to produce an online media training video series. I call it Bulletproof Your Brand, Online Media Training with Grant Ainsley. I determined what would be in each video and how I would present it, but then came a decision. I knew people who could handle the video work and would produce great videos, but I wanted to learn how to do it myself. I figured I need to learn how to shoot video and since I could then shoot a video whenever I need to, it made perfect sense to find a way to do it myself. It may not have been the best decision, but I made it and went with it.
Shopping For the Tools of the Trade
If I’m going to shoot videos, I need the equipment to do it and a studio. Both were solved fairly easily. I purchased a Cannon Rebel T5i camera, a Rode mic to mount on the camera and a tripod. I turned a wall in my basement into a studio and then took Hugh’s advice over a cup of tea late one night in April (yeah I know – weird) to do the videos in greenscreen. It’s also called chromakey and it’s a process that strips out the background so you can put any image or video in the background in place of the green colour. I got a 4 X 8 sheet of drywall and nailed it to a basement wall, bought a greenscreen cloth and clips from Amazon. I already had a lighting kit so I was ready to go.
Then came the realization that if I used greenscreen I needed video editing software. I took the plunge and bought Final Cut Pro X, which is likely more than I needed, but I reminded myself that I plan to shoot many more videos. Then came the challenge of learning how to use it. My friend Doug Woolgar gave me some great video clips to learn the software and I took a lesson from Westworld Computers in Edmonton.
Knowing that I wasn’t advanced enough to create great looking animated openings to my videos, I asked Mark Remple of Point of View Media to handle that task and I also wanted somebody to interview to show different techniques and asked Mark’s wife Crystal Puim, of Crystal Puim Photography to be my interviewee. Crystal did a great job and Mark videotaped the interviews. The five videos were in the can and it was now time to move to editing.
After some initial problems, the video editing process went smoothly and I loaded my clips into Kajabi and built some landing pages. I had an online media training video series ready to go and available for anyone around the world to download and watch (for $97US).
What Happens Happens
Even though the video series was officially launched this morning on the date I set weeks ago, I have no idea how it will do. I am using email, social media and Google Adwords to promote the site. Greg Scratchley of Microtek Corporation, a company owned by my friend David Papp, is handling the Google Adwords work and he’s done a great job in finding the keywords that hopefully will result in people finding my series online and paying to watch it.
If I get my money back, that’s great. If I make some money even better, but I have no idea of what’s going to happen. I do know it’s an excellent series and anyone needing to speak to the media can learn something from it. I’ve packed all my knowledge of media relations into the five videos, which run just under 90 minutes in total. I think it’s a great deal for somebody who wants to learn and the videos allow them to do it on their own time. They can view as much or as little as they want at a time and I’m also including a PDF copy of my book The Honest Spin Doctor to get sales kicked off.
What Can You Sell Online to Create Cash?
The thought has occurred to me that many others should be doing the same thing. Your topics will be different than media training (don’t horn in on my territory) but I’m sure you have knowledge and expertise that people want to learn and are willing to pay a fair price for.
Last week I dropped into my website company Mediashaker where web designer Daniel To had added a new section to my website to market the online media training series and was talking to a couple of people about the series. One commented that awhile back he wanted to learn how to repaint a car, so he looked online for videos. He found several free ones on YouTube, but nothing that covered everything he wanted to learn. Each had a little bit of information, but there wasn’t anything that covered everything he wanted to know. I think my video series on media training is much the same. Although it carries price tag, anyone who downloads it will get valuable information and won’t need to search online for other videos.
So what do you have to offer that could produce revenue for you online? How to do a tax return? How to publish a book? How to write a marketing plan? Perhaps you could develop a series of math courses for high school students that they could take when they need a tutor? The possibilities are endless. There’s no question there’s a ton of free stuff on YouTube, but if you can provide something different, or have all the answers that people need in one spot, you could have a viable online enterprise if you can find a way to package it.
Microsoft, LinkedIn and Me
In April LinkedIn bought Lynda.com for a reported $1.5 billion. That’s not a typo. Lynda.com offers video courses on almost every subject imaginable and raises revenue on a monthly subscription service much like music services like Pandora and Spotify. Just last week Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. At the time of the Lynda.com purchase critics wondered if it was a good deal for LinkedIn. Now it doesn’t much matter because Microsoft owns it all.
How Microsoft will use Lynda.com as part of LinkedIn is something nobody seems to know, but if you connect the dots between Microsoft, LinkedIn, Lynda.com, business, online education, resumes and online recruitment I think you get the picture. Online education and information will be a big part of what happens on LinkedIn in the future.
I’m not sure how all this affects me, but as long as people buy my online media training series I’ll be happy.