When You Have Writers Block…

I was talking to my son about overcoming writer's block this morning (he was struggling with a school assignment) and I realized that his challenge is one I hear from my product creation masterclass clients and newsletter subscribers. How do you deal with it when you just can't think of anything to write?

Two Tips For Breaking a Block

Stream of Consciousness Writing

This is what I recommend to my son and to clients working on an ebook or website content. Just open a document in Word or similar and start typing what's on your mind. For example:

“I had eggs for breakfast this morning, would have liked cereal but eggs are good for me. Now I'm supposed to be typing a daily email and I have no idea what to type, my mind is off in a million places, like at the car dealership test driving a new car that I really wish I could buy…”

Essentially this breaks the block because you're writing. You just skip a line and start typing what you need to type (like this daily email!) and let the words keep flowing.

Keep a Notebook of Ideas

This works very well for things like daily emails and content articles. As you go through your daily life you'll see things that inspire you, that make you think “I should write about that!” Jot those things down in a little notebook. If you're at a bookstore, you might get ideas from books in your niche, or from magazine covers in your niche. Things in your life (like my conversation with my teenage son) might inspire ideas. People will send questions to you – copy good ones into an idea file and use them to inspire content in the future.

Each of these tips works in different ways – one immediately, and one becomes as an asset that you build and can refer to again and again. Both help you overcome and just start writing (or recording, filming, etc. – Just start talking and hit “record” once you feel warmed up =D).

~Kristen

P.S. Are you having trouble creating a product? Check out the Product Creation Masterclass where I cover, step-by-step, how to find a concept, outline your product, and actually get it written and recorded. Then I show you how to write the sales letter for your product (this is actually a 30 minute recording where I write a letter live and talk you through the entire process!). It's a great fit if you're struggling with any step of product creation.

Click here to get full details on this powerful training

Creating a Coaching Program

Writing for this blog has been a struggle. I've gotten back to a fairly regular publication schedule with my other sites, but this one has been tougher. I have a series that I want to write, but my heart just isn't in it yet. I'm not quite ready for it!

It hit me this week that I should just write from where I'm at right now, and I'll get back to that series in a few weeks. I wrote last on passive income streams, and how I'm planning to build one out over this month. Right now I'm debating if I want to go through with that or not. It's not a huge project, but it is time-intensive.

The reason I hesitate is because I'm currently focused on an even bigger project – creating a coaching program. I'm actively working on this project, and after holding several “test run” teleseminars to see how I feel teaching, I'm excited. I don't know that I want to take time away from this project to work on the passive income stream yet (I don't consider a coaching program passive because I have a weekly call with my clients).

Love of Teaching

I love to teach. I enjoy teaching my children every day – we homeschool, and there are many life skills to teach above and beyond academics. Over the past month I've also found that I love teaching my teleclasses. These are focused on my biggest niche site (pregnancy/birth/baby niche) and I am totally passionate about the subject matter. I also have a lot to offer and lot to teach on it after a decade “up to my ears” in it… and several of my own pregnancy, birth, and baby experiences.

Writing is enjoyable to me, but I am truly enjoying the experience of teaching a live class. I really can't wait to get my program launched and work with clients that I get to know – to make a personal difference in their lives.

The Benefits of a Coaching Program

I know first-hand the benefits of a coaching program because I've been participating in a business coaching program this year. It has been a great resource for me. My coach/mentor is full of knowledge about business and marketing. Our group coaching calls are always informative. The accountability is very helpful.

For instance, the coaching program begins with a set of lessons delivered via email. Those lessons spurred me to really get two information products I'd been working on finished, uploaded, and selling. Those are now generating passive income for me every month.

Recent lessons have focused on traffic generation, so I will soon be seeing much more traffic to my niche sites, where I can effectively monetize my subscribers while giving them great information. My coach stresses the importance of giving great value, so it encourages me to keep the quality of my work high.

Like I said above, the accountability factor is huge. We moved and I found I was pregnant in the spring of this year. Those are two huge changes in life, and I got way off track with my business throughout that. Knowing that my coach was there and I had weekly calls to attend (or listen to, even if I missed the live call), made a big difference for me. I could have probably just skated by for months, using pregnancy and moving as an excuse to do nothing with my business. But I wanted to get the full benefit of my coach and coaching program, so I pulled myself back together and got back to work. Huge benefit.

Because of my first-hand experience with coaching, I know this is a great way to really reach and touch clients in a way my simple niche sites (even those that are “authority sites”) do not and cannot.

Deeply In

At this point I'm deep in the process of developing my coaching program – email campaign, class materials, audio recordings, etc.

I'm planning to write about each step in this process since so much of it is applicable to all information products. I'll also write some about other strategies that I'm working with (such as the traffic generation my coaching is covering right now). I'm hoping that writing about what I'm working on right now will keep me writing here more consistently and give me a place to get feedback 😉

What projects are you working on? Have you set aside one project to fully expand another? How did that work out for you?

Photo by woodleywonderworks

The Dirty Work Behind Getting a Product Launched

Product launches are sexy.  They're full of cool strategies and targeted tactics that get everyone on your list hyped up to buy your product.  All glitz, glamor, and of course, sales… right?  Maybe not.

I'm not knocking product launches.  A well-orchestrated launch can make you (and affiliates) a phenomenal amount of money in a short time.  They can bring lots of interest to you and your brand.  I also have a lot of respect for Jeff Walker, the original reluctant guru, who started the whole product launch sensation.

But It Ain't All Roses

There are a lot of exciting things to plan with a launch (like where you're going to go out to eat when the money comes rolling in).  But it's also a lot of hard work.

I just got a product up and going and it was really, really tough.  And I didn't even factor affiliates into the equation.  In launch lingo, this was an “internal launch” — just to my list for my niche site.  It's also built to be evergreen, meaning that it will keep going in an autoresponder sequence.  So it's not like one of the huge “internet marketing” launches.  Regardless, it was tough. Here's a rough little flow chart I drew up to help myself keep track of the big points:

Your Product

You have to have a product.  “Um, Kristen, that's obvious” — I can hear you saying it now.  But people gloss over this when they talk about launching the product.  You have to have one!  Now some things, like coaching programs or seed launches don't really require a product totally up front.  You can develop along the way.  But if you're doing a standard ebook or training product in your niche, you have to have the product done!

You can go with the bare bones, but I like my products to look a little more polished.  Recording an audio track, cleaning it up, and formatting a nice-looking pdf file – all of that takes time.  Remember it doesn't have to be perfect, but it will take some time to get the polish you want.  Don't leave this until the last minute. 

The Dreaded Letter

Yes, you have to write a sales letter.  If you can hire a copywriter well, your troubles may be over.  Of course, you still need to be sure your copywriter is worth his (or her) salt…

But bullets, headline, actual body copy, graphics, formatting… yeah, all of that has to be done.  As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day.  Your sales letter won't be, either.

Your launch copy can really help you with your sales letter because you'll probably tell a similar story in both, but don't make the mistake of thinking that you need no sales letter because you're doing a launch.  You still need it.  Doing one of those fancy video sales letters?  You should still have written copy, and you still need to storyboard your video sales pitch.

Load it Up!

If you have a tech team you can probably forget some of this and let them worry about it.  But if you're bootstrapping it you have to do this for yourself.

You need to get your product uploaded properly — so your customer can download it.  Don't forget that you have to upload any launch bonuses and product bonuses, too.

This could be as easy as loading something onto your server.  But you may have to configure it to be a secure download via your shopping cart… and all of that can end up taking a lot longer than you initially planned.

Shopping Cart Mayhem

Again, maybe you have a tech team to take care of this… but I don't (yet).  This can be fairly straightforward or fairly complex, depending on your cart and what you need it to do.

At the bare minimum you probably need to load in your product and set up price, download links, etc.  Do you need a custom download page?  I spent ages wrestling with getting an autoresponder issue set up on my thank-you page (thankfully my hubby helped me figure out the javascript issue).

Your shopping cart may require even more hoops… plan on taking the time that's needed to get that product up there and get them right.

Sales Letter… Again

Now it's time to get that sales letter uploaded and linking to the order page correctly.  Did you do everything right?  Did you forget anything?  Have you got the graphics for that magic order button that's going to magnetize your prospect?   

This is where you make sure everything is in order and you test.  Test, test, test, test!  Be sure there are no glitches in your ordering funnel.

Make sure all links from your letter to your order page works.  Make sure your order page buttons go to your payment processor correctly.  Make sure your download links work.  Make sure the order confirmation emails are dispatching.  Make sure your customer gets signed up for your buyer's list when they buy.  Test, test, test!

Email / Launch

Of course, after all of that you still have to get the product launch off the ground.  And I'm not even going to go into all of that.  You need to write the launch copy, integrate your bonuses, execute your launch timing, etc. 

Oh, and if you have affiliates and JV's on board, you've got to coordinate everything with them, too.  Go back to your cart, sales page, and order page and make sure they're getting credit for their leads.

Even if you, like me, are planning on using a responder sequence to sell, you need to be sure that you get your emails loaded into it and timed properly so people are getting what they're supposed to get when they're supposed to get it…

The Upside

The upside of all of this work is that you get to sit back and watch your well-oiled machine run when you're done.  You watch the money come rolling in, grin, and pretend that you're a product launch ace who worked magic with a few emails and a shiny product.

But the truth is, you've got to grease those gears first, and it may get a little messy.  Do yourself a favor and make a checklist the first time you do it… then refine that checklist the second.  By the third successful launch maybe you can just hand that checklist off to your tech guys and be the hotshot you've been playing all along 😉

Photos by bsabarnowl, evelyngiggles, and jurvetson

A Market Research Shortcut to Mine Your Niche

You've heard the stories — somebody invests their life savings into a business only to have it fail.  A friend boldly left his or her job for self employment only to be right back in the work force two years later.  Or, more common in the internet marketing world, somebody spends 6 months on their product only to have nobody buy it.

How can you prevent wasting your time and money?  How can you make sure that you're building an income stream that will continue to grow and continue to build your bank account?

Market research.

Knowing if there's a market for your product(s) — and knowing what that market wants — is vital to your business.

I'm going to give you a quick shortcut for figuring out if there's market… and exactly what that market wants 🙂

Your Shortcut

Amazon.com

Yep.  It's that easy.  Amazon is a treasure-trove for not only finding out if a market exists for your product, but also finding out just what your market wants.

Head to Amazon and specifically to the bookstore portion of Amazon.  Put in a keyword that describes your niche.  Are there books on your topic?  Books being written on your topic is the first market check.

Now take a look at the books.  Are there several books (at least 5-6) in the niche that have a good number of reviews?  It's really good if the books have at least 30 reviews each, though you could possibly get by with less.

niche search on Amazon

If your niche passes this test, you know there's a market for your niche.

What Do They Want?

Now you're going to mine your books.  Choose the top 5-6 books, those with the most reviews.

When you look at the reviews you can sort them by most helpful.  Take a look at the number of people who found a review helpful — these are the reviews that lead towards a “buying decision.”  This means someone used that review to choose to buy or not to buy a product.

These helpful reviews are a gold mine for you.  As you read through them you'll discover common themes come up again and again as to what people were looking for and found (or didn't find) in the book.  Read the helpful positive and negative reviews.  Take notes.

Do this for each of the top books.  Amazon shows related top-sellers in your niche on the comments page for each book, making it easy for you to get a good feel in your niche.  

You get well-informed about the viability of your niche and what you should include in a product just from this hour or two of research!  Plus, you don't need a list 🙂

Another way to look for top selling books is to look at the best sellers list and then your niche's category.  This is a little broader than a keyword search.

Other Quickies 😉

You can also visit a forum that offers products (such as the Warrior Forum in the internet marketing niche) and read what people are saying about products and specials (WSO's) to get an idea of what people want.

Even if there are no product ads, looking at “stickied” topics or topics that seem to come up again and again can all give you an idea of what you should cover in your market.

Amazon is by far my favorite, since you get really detailed information relatively quickly.  You find out what you should (and should not) do and include with your products.  You even find exact “buying phrases” to put in your sales letter.  You should do keyword/competition research, etc, but Amazon is a real wealth of information!

Photo by David Friedel