Freelancing is a great way to earn a living. But sooner or later, every successful freelancer starts to ask himself ...
"Gee, will I ALWAYS have to trade time for money?"
Even if you price your work by the project, you're still selling your time. When you go away on vacation or when you're sick in bed ... you're not earning an income.
One of the best ways to break out of this time-for-money cycle is to create, package and sell B2B information products to clients and to other businesses.
And in this interview, software developer and entrepreneur shares some very practical advice for doing just that.
The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.
Tell us about what you do?
Brennan started by working full time and moonlighting. He eventually ended up freelancing full time and then bootstrapping a consulting firm, which grew to 11 people.
With so many employees to pay, he built a project management software, “Planscope,” to supplement his income stream.
Since then, he has developed a number of information products.
He has launched an online workshop, the “Consultancy Masterclass.”
Most recently, he has put together a six-month online course for new freelancers, “The Freelancers Guild.”
What should we consider when developing this type of product?
Every good information product somehow benefits the customer. People buy because they want to make more money or lose less money.
Look at why people hire you. Do you have specific knowledge or experience that you can package into a product and sell? When someone hires you as a consultant, you’re selling your time. You’re applying your knowledge to a specific problem in a hands-on way. When you sell information products, you’re selling information that someone else can then apply.
Don’t expect information products to replace your income. You’ll be disappointed. But they are a great way to facilitate lead generate and create side revenue streams.
Where should we look for ideas?
Three potential audiences:
- Clients and prospects – people not versed in your skill set.
- Hobbies and personal interest – something outside of your core business. (Brennan cautions against this. Consumers are less likely to understand the value of your product.)
Most of us don’t have arcane knowledge, but many of us are capable of researching and curating information.
If you’re targeting prospects and clients, you will have to distill information to a level they will understand. This can be difficult if you’re knowledge is creative and intuitive. Being too much of an expert can be detrimental if you’re selling to a beginner’s audience.
If you’re having trouble writing for this audience, think of one real-life person who represents this group, and write for him/her.
What makes a good first product?
- Make sure the product benefits the buyer (preferably financially).
- Keep it small. Solve one problem and get it out as quickly as possible. If it takes too long to launch, you lose motivation to do it.
Meet up groups are a great way to test your product, refine it and build your confidence.
Do you have examples of freelancers who’ve successfully sold products?
Pete King – Stripe
Amy Hoy – 30x500
Patrick Mackenzie – Patio11 and Kalzumeus Software
What about creating a product as a client attraction tool?
Brennan recommends starting with small, micro engagements to get bigger engagements.
When people don’t hire you, it’s usually because of risk. If you can prove your ability on something smaller, then it’s much easier to sell a larger engagement. It’s a way for the client to qualify you and for you to qualify the client.
How can you keep this from becoming overwhelming?
Think of it as creating an annuity. The annuity can become more valuable over time and provide value in other ways. Be strategic and focus on things you can do and validate quickly.
Don’t create anything in a vacuum. You don’t want to spend three months on a book and then not sell any copies. The sooner you get results and build your audience, the better. You should understand who your audience is while you develop your idea.
Don’t make a clear break from your consulting practice. It’s better to morph your consulting into products because you already understand your audience.
Where can people learn more about you?
Brennan’s portal site: http://brennandunn.com
Weekly newsletter: http://freelancersweekly.com