If you’ve read my manifesto – aka the Six Figure Blogger Blueprint - then you should know by now that I firmly believe that selling your OWN product is the #1 way to build a business based around your blog.
I even talked in there about how I arrived at that…
It is the story of how I “sold” PCMech.com to a company called eFront Media. This was in the height of the dot-com boom and everybody thought that online advertising was the new gold rush.
So, this company offered me about a million dollars for PCMech.com. And, I was like – Holy Shit!. And I took the offer.
Of course, it was a horseshit contract in retrospect. Most of it was stock options – in a company which wasn’t even public and had no real plans to be. I was an idiot to enter into that deal, but that’s the kind of thing that happens when 7-figure paydays are floated in front of a 21-year old kid.
The cash portion of the payments dried up when the reality of the dot-com boom was upon us. All that value out there was fake. And since eFront was no longer bringing much ad revenue, all of a sudden they weren’t paying me for a site I was running, but didn’t legally own anymore.
But, I wasn’t about to let my income dry up without a fight.
As I held eFront’s feet to the fire, I embarked on the creation of my first product.
See, at the time, CD-ROMs were still a cool thing. And, I had written this tutorial on how to build a PC.
So, I took that tutorial and put it into ebook form. This wasn’t a PDF ebook… it was a compiled HTML ebook. People don’t really make those anymore. In the same fashion, I also created a “PC Mechanic” reference book, pretty much made up of the content of the online version of my website.
In other words, probably 75% of my offer was stuff that was already available on my site. However, I had made it more accessible, searchable, and easier to get onto your computer (seeing as we didn’t have high-speed internet back then).
The value wasn’t just the information, but the convenience.
But, I had this CD-ROM and it could hold about 650MB. My ebooks didn’t take up that much room. So, even then, I was thinking “thud factor” like a lot of internet marketers used to like. So, I put a bunch of open source / shareware programs on the CD, too. Basically, software which I was legally allowed to distribute. I put it on the CD, again, as a convenience because, for many, it would take hours to download these things over their dial-up connections.
To make the CDs, I went down to Staples. I bought blank CD-ROMs on a spindle, a labeling kit with labels. I designed a label using the template they provided. I burned the CDs one at a time right there on my PC. I then “stomped” the label on, packed it into a Staples envelope, licked my own stamps, manually hand-wrote the shipping addresses, and drove them down to the post office.
I remember the lady at the office asking me what I did. I told her I was selling these online. She thought that was pretty cool, especially seeing as she saw me once or twice per week.
Eventually, I graduated up to the idea of printing my own labels rather than hand-writing them. Microsoft Word mail merge was my friend.
I sold that CD for several years. At one point, I even had a vocational school buying them en mass – usually about 150 at a time. The volume got to a point where I eventually outsourced the printing to another company and I, instead, simply managed inventory.
That’s History Now… But, It Led To bigger Things
I eventually stopped selling that CD because times had changed. More and more people were using high-speed internet connections. And the medium of delivery was very much turning to the Internet rather than CD.
But, it all started somewhere.
With a necessity. And with me simply providing a convenience to my readers.
I helped them solve a problem and I packaged a solution and sold it.
It was my first offer. And it led onto much bigger things – obviously.
Things are so much easier now than they were then. The tools we have to work with are things I could only dream of when I started in this business.
But, the rules haven’t changed. Help your audience solve a problem, package up a solution, and offer it to them.
When did people make this stuff complicated?