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How She Used Her Love of Vegan Cuisine To Build An Audience & Launch Her Online Business

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On September 15, 2013 at 4pm, I sent out an email to Sarah’s waiting list announcing that her first digital product, a 2-week menu, was ready for purchase.

The next few minutes felt like an eternity.

Was it going to work?

Would all the effort be worth something?

It wasn’t too long before I found out.

All of a sudden Paypal email notifications started pouring in once every few seconds.

“Ding (payment received)… ding (payment received)… ding(payment received)…”

Sarah was now in business.

It was the successful culmination of her consistently building up her own following for two years and then two weeks of building up anticipation for the launch of her first digital product.

Just a couple of years earlier, Sarah shared a vegan recipe with one of her fellow church members.  That church member shared it with others and soon they were asking Sarah for more recipes.

Sarah very quickly got tired of sending the recipes to each person individually, so finally she created a Facebook™ Page to make sharing her recipes and food experiments easier.

She continued posting recipes and since people liked them, they shared them.  And as a result, her follower count grew.

At first, she posted occasionally, whenever she had a new recipe, but she eventually got into a rhythm of posting new recipes every week.

As her page grew even more she enlisted the help of her husband to add new content to the page. He started finding interesting health articles in the evening after work, then he would schedule the posts to go live at 6am the next day.

After two years of posting recipes & health articles, Sarah’s page grew to over 60,000 followers.

However, they weren’t making any money for their work since they didn’t know how to monetize their audience.  They had considered creating some kind of menu but never got around to developing the product.

Now, at this time I had just graduated from college with a Business Finance degree but instead of getting a job in that field I was intent on pursuing something in my interest of digital marketing so I had my eyes & ears open for different opportunities.

As luck would have it, my cousin happened to be one of Sarah’s followers.

One day over lunch, she told me about a page she was following that was sharing great tips & recipes that she liked.  She mentioned that she wished they had a menu and that she would buy it right up if they did!

Aha, there it was!

The opportunity to work on a project using my digital marketing skills I had developed over the last few years.

I sent Sarah a direct message via her page and told her I had an idea for a product she could offer her audience.

I left my phone number and told them to give me a call if they were interested in discussing it further.

The next day they called and we had a great conversation brainstorming the different products that could be offered.

Based on comments that Sarah’s followers left on her page, we ended up deciding to develop a product that we believed would serve one of their biggest needs – a two week menu with healthy recipes.

Sarah was pleased to find out that her initial instinct to create a menu was a good one.  We did shift her original idea from the printed version she’d originally intended to a digital version that was simpler to create and deliver.

The deal I offered Sarah and her husband was for them to create the product content and I would take care of the marketing & sales in exchange for a percentage of the revenue.

Sarah was excited about the opportunity to sell the menu, but her husband wasn’t convinced.  He didn’t think they’d sell more than a handful of the menus.  I didn’t blame him because I’d have thought the same thing if I hadn’t previously been exposed to other businesses that were successfully creating & selling digital products.

To test the waters I had Sarah make a post telling her followers the details of what we were planning.

I taught her how to create a “call to action” post to find out how many of her followers would be interested in purchasing the menu product when it was ready.

Within a couple hours the post had over 800+ yes comments!

With both Sarah & her husband convinced, they started developing the product and I got to work on the marketing.

The first thing I did was set up a simple form where people could join a waiting list to be notified as soon as the product was ready for purchase.

The next thing I did was work with Sarah to develop interesting content designed to focus people on the problem that the product solved.  The ones who were interested then joined the waiting list.

Finally, when the product was ready to purchase, we set up a 14 day email promotion to people on the waiting list.  As a result of this promotion, we generated more than 300 sales with revenue a few dollars shy of $10k.

We then went on to launch several more menus for different types of recipes (dairy substitutes, meat substitutes, green juices & smoothies, healthy desserts, etc).

Eventually, with the buzz that was generated from the different products and the content they continued to share with their audience, their follower count grew to over 300,000.

Sarah and her husband were excited that they had now found a simple method to help their audience in a deeper, more meaningful way AND earn some additional revenue in the process.

And it all started with one small decision Sarah made to start sharing what she knew, publicly.

Afterward, I went on to replicate this same process in a variety of markets including: health, sports training, financial services, parenting, relationship advice, and others.

I quickly gained experience with writing copy (or words that inspire action), driving traffic (website visitors), and business strategy.

I’ve used those skills to generate at least 39,000+ customers & over 60,000+ leads for myself & private clients.  I’ve written two product campaign promotions that have done 1M in revenue each. And, I’ve coached over a hundred different businesses from large to small in several different markets on how to implement effective digital marketing strategies into their businesses.

While doing all of this I discovered that I like talking about digital marketing and sharing my ideas and perspectives on it.  So that’s why I decided to create an audience around the topic of digital marketing.  I feel it’s a great way to share my insights with the world and help others that are just starting out.

In fact, you are seeing me do that right now with this blog post.

If you stick around, you’ll get to watch as I build a new audience from scratch.

I’ll share the ups and downs, showing you what works as well as what doesn’t.

What’s In It For You?

If you have a topic that you know well and love to talk about…

If you’ve toyed with the idea of sharing those ideas with the world…

If you’ve thought about building your own audience or creating your own digital products…

You are invited to sign up for my email newsletter. I’ll be sharing weekly tips on building an audience, creating and selling digital products, and designing a lifestyle business that can give you more freedom and control over your time.

-Eddys Velasquez

Should you build an audience around what you’re good at? A simple 7-point test.

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Should YOU build an audience?

Here’s a simple 7-point test that will help you answer that question…

First question – do you have a specific type of knowledge or expertise?

Before we dive into that one, I want to ask you another question. If I were to ask you what you’re good at, would you reply with something that you “feel confident” about? If you are, you may accidentally be missing your best skills.

Why?

Because many people look for confidence as a shortcut to identifying competence. However, confidence doesn’t necessarily indicate competence.

In fact, according to the Dunning-Kruger effect, people who are less competent in a given area tend to be more confident in their abilities while people who are more competent tend to be less confident or underestimate their ability in that area.

How can you identify your area of actual competence?

Stop looking for the “feelings” and start looking at the results…the evidence.

Are you the person that your friends always come to for help with ? What is that thing you do?

Are you the person who people always turn to because you “know everything about without even having to think about it?”. What is that topic?

Is there something that you tend to help people with and they actually learn and get better at? Pay attention to that!

If one or more of these describes you, then even if you may not feel like you are competent in that area, you probably still are!

On the other hand, if you feel confident that you are competent in a specific area, take a look at the evidence. Do some analysis to make sure that your confidence goes hand in hand with actual competence.

Do others come to you for assistance in the area of your confidence? Have you been able to help people solve a problem or get a result?

If you’ve helped one or two people, that’s fabulous, but if you’ve helped lots of people, that’s even better!

If you’re still struggling to find an area of competence, ask a close friend or someone who knows you well what they see that you might be missing.

Once you have identified an area of competence, it’s time to continue moving forward.

Second question – is your knowledge or expertise capable of solving someone’s problem?

It’s one thing to know a bunch of facts about something. Trivia knowledge is quite handy, especially when playing trivia games.

However, it’s another thing entirely to be able to use your knowledge & experience to provide enough direction to help a person solve their problem.

Let’s imagine that you are in Houston, Texas. You hop in your car and type “New York City” into the GPS and that slightly robotic voice says “Head north.” That’s good, you think. Let’s get going here. You start heading north, expecting the GPS to tell you to turn right at the freeway. However, the voice just tells you to “continue going north for 25 hours.”

If you want to help people, you will be functioning as that GPS for the person you are helping. If you “help” like the GPS in the above scenario, your driver just may end up in Winnipeg, Canada before figuring out that your directions aren’t really helpful.

However, it’s more helpful if you can use your knowledge, combined with your experience to tell them “Turn right on Jones Rd. Using the two left lanes, take the ramp onto US 290 E.” etc.

Ask yourself…

Have I been able to successfully help someone solve a problem with what I know or have experience in?

And…

Do I think I’d be able to provide the type of insight someone would need to solve a specific problem in the topic that I’m considering?

If not, reconsider the topic or gain more knowledge and experience helping people in that area.

If yes, then you can move forward.

Third Question – do you have a process that you can break down into sequential steps that are easy to follow?

If you don’t have a process (to solve your audience’s problem) that breaks down into sequential, easy-to-follow steps, your audience may have a hard time following what you’re saying.

If they have a hard time understanding your process, they will have a hard time succeeding. If they aren’t experiencing successes, then you won’t have an audience for long.

If you can break things down into bite-sized, easy to understand chunks that keep moving your audience from one check point to another in their journey, they will be able to see progress and will be delighted to continue following you.

If you don’t have a process or if you lack the skills to break that process effectively into steps, that isn’t a complete deal breaker. You can partner with someone who already has what you’re lacking or you can develop the skill you may be missing.

(BTW, having the skill yourself is a good thing, because it helps you not to have to be dependent on someone else.)

So, once you’ve developed a process and broken it down into easy to follow steps, you’re ready to move to the next question.

Fourth Question – do you have the ability & willingness to develop and create content?

If you enjoy writing content, recording audios, or making videos, you are far more likely to enjoy the work it takes to build an audience.

That doesn’t mean you have to like writing AND recording, AND making videos.

However, liking the process of developing content in one (or more) of these formats simply makes the whole process more enjoyable for you.

Are you more extroverted, have a charismatic personality, appear well on camera, and enjoy talking? Creating video content may be a good format for you.

Do you feel uncomfortable on camera but people love listening to your voice? Audio might be a good format for you to consider.

Are you more introverted? Do you prefer to organize your thoughts and tend to write well? Written format is a great choice.

Whichever format you select, the key is being comfortable with what you’re doing and enjoying it. Otherwise, there’s no point in doing it!

Once you’ve decided that you are capable and interested in creating content, it’s time to consider the next question.

Fifth Question – are you able to create content on a consistent basis?

When you’re considering the format from step four, ask yourself the question – can I create this type of content reliably and predictably so I can maintain a consistent posting schedule?

Being able to create content on a consistent basis simply means being able to post quality content on a predictable schedule. This allows your audience to start developing a level of trust with you. You posted an article Monday evening like you always do. That is a baby step in building trust.

Can you make the time in your schedule to create that content on at least a weekly basis?

Some things to consider to help you make that decision:

Creating content involves…

Understanding your audience and knowing what will help them.

This will involve some level of research either with your specific audience or about the audience in general. You can use polls, interviews, or other forms of interaction with your own audience. You can research the audience in general by engaging with people in various forums (digital or in-person), reading product reviews (or other places your audience shares their thoughts and opinions), or even reading books and articles that will help you to better understand your audience.

Planning your audience-building content ideas.

This is going to vary by your audience and your topic, but it will involve thinking up ideas to create ahead of time. It will involve considering what your audience responds to better. It will involve deciding the most effective way to deliver your content for your audience. (Do you want to do a quick slide-show type of video or a full explanation 45 minute demo video?) You also want to consider if a specific content piece would be better for relationship building content (like the quick slide-show video) or if it might be better used as paid content (like the 45 minute demonstration video).

Picking the content idea you’re going to create.

Ideally, you will end up developing a bank of content ideas so that you’re never “out of ideas” to write about. But which specific idea you decide to develop will depend on if you are trying to warm your audience up for a certain product that you want to sell them in the future or if you are still trying to determine what product you want to create.

Creating the content.

This is the execution of your content idea. Your process will be personal to you, but it will generally include planning/outlining the content you’re going to cover, writing the post (or recording the video or audio, or creating the visual content).

Editing the content.

This is where you review what you’ve created and decide what changes need to be made or if you’re pleased with the outcome as it is.

Posting the content to your platform(s) of choice.

This involves making sure that your “post” is appropriately formatted for the platform and is successfully uploaded or posted. It also involves making sure that you’re tagging, hashtagging, adding captions, descriptions and/or titles as appropriate to the specific platform.

And, finally, if you want more people to see it…

Promoting your content.

We won’t unpack this one now, but it can be as simple as pinning an image or boosting a post or as complex as creating an entire advertising campaign for your content.

All of this takes time and effort.

Failing to plan time for creating content can lead to it getting pushed off to the side and eventually getting dropped as “something I never got around to”.

You may have had a great start to a good business, only to find that a few weeks (or, gasp! months!) have passed and your audience doesn’t even remember who you are or what you do.

Showing up consistently with content your audience finds fascinating and useful is the key to keeping your audience engaged and eager to come back for more. Each piece of content serves as a mechanism allowing them to build more trust in you and to desire your next piece of content.

However, once the flow of content stops or dwindles down to a trickle, their attention and interest tend to flow elsewhere. They will find someone else who provides the thing they want.

Sidenote: Can you build an audience with a more sporadic schedule? Yes. It’s just a little bit harder to build a level of trust, than if you can show up consistently and predictably.

Ok, next…

Sixth, are you self-disciplined enough to STAY consistent even when you may not see immediate results?

There will be times in the beginning when you will feel like all the work you are putting into audience building is a complete waste of time.

It will feel like you’ve poured blood, sweat, and even tears into creating an amazing piece of content. You excitedly post your awesome, new content and…

Nothing.

Not one single comment. Not even a “Like” to let you know someone really looked at your content.

This is normal. Completely uncomfortable, of course, but simply part of the process. Over time, you’ll learn techniques that help – making sure that you’re posting at times that your audience tends to view your content, dialing in your awareness of the types of content your audience likes best, growing your audience size so that there is more likelihood that some people will resonate with your content.

If you’re accustomed to instant gratification, it will be tempting to give up when this happens. We’ve been taught to shoot for “viral” and have a tendency to see anything less as “not enough”. “Viral” isn’t a recipe for success, but pinning your hopes on something going “viral” is a recipe for disappointment.

The truth is that quick success doesn’t always happen. If you think you are disciplined enough to STAY consistent even when things feel like they aren’t working, then let’s continue.

Seventh, do you have a plan for how you’re going to monetize your knowledge or expertise?

It’s important to know what your end goal is because then you can work towards that and build your audience with that purpose in mind.

If you start building an audience without a plan or even an idea for the specific type of impact you want to make OR the specific type of products you are going to sell it’s possible you could end up spending a lot of time, money, & effort building the wrong audience.

It is hard to know where you want to go when you haven’t yet been there. However it is still important to consider as much as possible about what you want to achieve with your business.

Do you have a plan for what you are going to do with your audience? What is that plan? What part of that plan have you not planned out?

Is your ultimate goal to create an impact and help as many people as possible? Do you have a specific plan for how that impact is going to be made exactly?

Is your dream to create a lifestyle business that gives you more freedom and control over your time? Do you have a plan on exactly HOW you are going to monetize your knowledge & expertise so that all that time & effort spent creating content can pay off?

When most people are looking back on their lives, they generally regret the “What ifs” more than the “Well, that didn’t go as planned”.

If you’re thinking about building an audience…

And if you’ve gone through this checklist and thought “Yeah, I could do that…It sounds like fun!”, then maybe you should bring the idea out of your head and into the real world by taking action to get started.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

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-Eddys Velasquez