Make Money Online On The Side Easily, If You’re A Professional In A Poorly Paying Job. Knowledge Commerce Can Be A Low-Cost, High-Profit Side-Business.
I understand the predicament most professionals in jobs are in today. Jobs are on shaky ground. They may be less than ideal for you. In fact, they could be quite the bugbear of your life, if you’re not earning half as much as you are due, or your job isn’t half as satisfying as you want it to be. Still, you have to hang on and can’t afford to leave, right?
There’s a smart way out if you’re ready to bend your mind towards it. It’s an online side-business idea that takes very little out of you and yet earns great results – it’s called Knowledge Commerce.
You take what you are good at – or whatever you love as a topic – and start teaching that knowledge to others via ebooks, courses, membership sites, or pre-packaged consulting. Once it is set up, the system can earn you “passive income” even as you sleep.
Knowledge Commerce is a $325 billion market and growing – and it’s full of solo-entrepreneurs doing this as a full-time business or a side hustle. At Solohacks Academy, we think you should seriously consider making extra money on the side with this uber-easy “knowledge-as-product” idea.
1. What Is Knowledge Commerce And Why Is It A Failsafe Option As A Side Hustle
Everybody in this world has some knowledge or other that they are good at. It could be their professional area of expertise and they may have a job in this field. It could also be a subsidiary professional area remaining unexploited – or it could be an entirely different area of hobby or interest.
Whatever your knowledge niche, be aware one thing: knowledge of every kind is in great demand online. In fact, the online world devours knowledge. So your chance of launching a side-hustle selling the unique knowledge you have is marked for success.
a. You Work In A Professional Niche You Know Like The Back Of Your Hand
Chances are you are in your job because you are qualified for the job, you have the skills, talents and background for it, and the organization that has hired you has seen all it wants to on your rather well-crafted resume. But no matter how well-fit you and your job are, the world around is so shaky, the economy everywhere is in trembles, and jobs are hanging by hair-threads. You know this.
Even if your job is secure, the amount you can earn may drop when organizations downscale their salary bills to tide over the economic crisis. In all this, you have to be prepared. You can be prepared if you quickly build a side-hustle in your area of expertise that you can earn extra money from.
Knowledge is really competition-less – it’s beauty is that no two people have the exact same knowledge
Even if two people have identical resumes, their exact expertise or knowledge is always slightly unique. This uniqueness of knowledge that everybody has can become the basis of a side-hustle in selling your unique knowledge to people who are attracted to the way you use your knowledge. Take the example of two top-class Italian cuisine chefs. One may be a specialist of dishes from one part of Italy, another may be a “creative-fusionist” who can combine Italian cuisine with several other world cuisines. Do you see how nuanced everybody’s knowledge can be?
People online are willing to buy all types and nuances of knowledge that they are attracted to
People online not only want the broad niche knowledge you have, but they also like to buy the particular nuances of knowledge you have, which they are attracted to. That’s why, online, it’s possible for marketers to sell almost anything based on knowledge – for example, one marketer may sell knowledge on “How To Get More Traffic To Your Site WITH SEO Knowledge”. Another marketer may just as easily sell another course on “How To Get More Traffic To Your WITHOUT SEO Knowledge”. Both these knowledge areas will enjoy good demand.
b. You Know Your Target Audiences Too, As You Deal With Them Every Day
Knowing and understanding your likely target audiences for your side-business is the next important thing. As a professional in a job, you doubtless know exactly who would like to buy the knowledge you have. Most entrepreneurs falter with this, but professionals in existing jobs know their likely buyers quite well.
A copywriter in an advertising agency specializing in copy for the automotive sector, would know the car buyer market very well. She could find ideal customers for her side-business in Knowledge Commerce if she were to sell ebooks or courses to car-owners on topics like “weekly car care routines”, or “how to get more life out of your car battery”. She knows the audience so well because they’re the same audience she is writing for in her day job.
What you know about your customers tastes, preferences, pain-points and goals is invaluable
The critical point about knowing your target audiences is knowing what makes them tick. You need a great deal of familiarity with your audiences. You must know their tastes, preferences, pain-points, and goals. If your day job allows you this peek into the psychology of your target audiences, and you build a Knowledge Commerce side-business using your knowledge to help the same audiences, you get a huge advantage in business.
Your understanding of customer buying habits, processes, and journeys can give you a headstart
Beyond just understanding the buying customers’ psyche, your day job may give you a full understanding of why these customers buy what they buy, how they evaluate purchases, and what their buying journeys are like. Knowing the flow of their “knowledge-seek” as they proceed from “thinking about buying” to “actual buying” is a goldmine of information. If your day job gives you this understanding, it will be invaluable in planning the marketing of your own Knowledge Commerce products.
c. All You Need To Become Is A Go-To Expert Online To Sell Knowledge Products
In simple words, Knowledge Commerce lets you succeed if you follow this path given below. You first have to be seen and appreciated as an expert or authority online in your area of unique expertise. You have to build an audience of loyal readers who read everything you write and relish your thoughts and ideas. They must decide to stay in touch with you to make you the natural go-to person in your niche area.
After that, the increasing trust and steady consistency of authority you have built up with your loyal audiences start acting in your favor. Everything you recommend, your audiences are tempted to follow. If you recommend ideas, they try it out. If you create your own products, they are tempted to buy. The more trust you can accumulate, the higher can be the prices of your products and they will still buy.
What is content marketing – and why it’s the only way to build online authority as an expert whose products sell
You may have heard of a lot of online marketers talk of the concept of “content marketing”. But what exactly is content marketing? It’s easy to understand. The online buyer – including you and me – always goes online for information, and not with a specific early intention to buy anything. He shops for information first.
He needs all kinds of information. He has problems, in life or business, that he wants to solve – so he looks for tips and processes that can act as solutions. In this process of information-seek, he comes across products to evaluate, compare, and choose from. But he needs even more knowledge to tell the quality of one product from another. This is where his familiarity and trust with the author of the product helps. If a product is from someone who blogs regularly as an expert, and he has learned to value this expert’s blog posts and rely on them, he put his money on that expert’s recommendations.
In content marketing, you grab the early attention of a reader and slowly cultivate his interest and trust in you
It is said by marketing experts that a buyer needs at least 12-14 touches by a seller to become familiar enough to consider his product recommendations. So in content marketing, your objective isn’t merely to get a reader’s attention to one of your articles or blog posts. They have to read your blog posts regularly and often to grow their trust in you.
So, what you can do is to capture the email addresses of visitors to your site (by offering some intriguing free download like an ebook). Then, every time you write a new blog post, you invite the subscribers on your mailing list to come and read it. You grow the audience’s interest, trust, and loyalty. When they seem ready and in good numbers, you start soft-selling your products to them.
2. What Knowledge Commerce Takes Out Of You And Why It’s Easy To Do
If you are like most entrepreneurs and side-hustlers, looking to dip your toes into an online business, chances are you want to know what it will all cost to set up and run with, how much you can earn -and most importantly, how you can earn a lot within the limited time available to you to give your business.
The answers to those most asked questions follows – and you’ll be mighty glad to hear all this.
a. How Much Does It Really Cost To Start In Knowledge Commerce?
Many people give you many different types of startup budgets, but I can show you how frugally we did it for this very site you are reading – Solohacks Academy. We had a money-saving mindset from start, and only spent on things that would be absolutely needed or wise to buy. Till today, we adhere to this budget. We’ve never let ourselves go beyond the constraints of this budget. We’ve never had to.
This chart below shows exactly what we spent to start up and then run monthly and annually. Here is our cost-structure:
The more cost-restrained you are, not just at startup with but even over time, your business acumen grows sharper and savvier. You find clever ways to manage without expenses, and to get better results than you would if you spent money like water. Remember this one axiom. Whatever you are willing to learn, and do yourself, saves you money. Outsourcing is the biggest expense you may ever have. As a side-business entrepreneur, you may need some degree of outsourced help. But if you can earn more from that help than you spend on it, you’ll be on the right side of business economics.
b. The Earning Opportunities You Have in Knowledge Commerce
You can create diverse types of knowledge products and services to offer to customers, in your niche knowledge area. You can also set each of these categories of products at varying price points. You can start with low-cost quick information products or services in these formats. Then increase your offerings to in-depth, high-priced, comprehensive products in the same formats.
The Big Four Knowledge Commerce Products you can sell are these:
- Membership Sites
- Coaching/Consulting Services (Pre-Packaged)
Besides the Big Four, here’s a whole extra list of marketable knowledge services and products in your specialized niche:
- Short Reports/eDocs
- Video Tutorials/Screencasts
- Resource Lists/Tool Kits
- Group Coaching/Customized Tutoring
- Video or Podcast Learning Series
- Email-Based Training Sequences
- Allowing Paid Guest Posts From Renowned Writers
- Powerpoint or Skype Presentations
- Interviews/Case Studies
- Guided Do-It-Yourself Projects
- Done-For-You Services In Your Niche
- Collaborative Online Events With Other Experts
- Online Research Assistance Services
- Creation Of Libraries of Images, Music or Video Clips
- Customized Collated Knowledge Packs
- Developing Your Own Saleable App or Tool
- Developing a Jobs Board In Your Niche
P.S.: If you’re delaying because of starting-jitters, we have our popular “Done-For-You StartUp And Training Package” where we set up your business, site and blog and run it for the first three months, while training you to take over after that. You get the roadmap and the right trajectory to proceed along the success path.
c. You Can Earn Passive Income From Your Own Or Affiliate Products
Side-hustler marketers should ideally aim to build and sell as many “passive income” products as possible, given that time is their main constraint. What is passive income? It is income that you can earn from the products you sell that don’t need your personal attention. For example, you create an ebook that is a really buyable, exciting little product. Or you build a simple course, that buyers can learn from without your intervention. Now, the idea here is create it once, publish it, set up an ecommerce sales system, and forget it. Even as you sleep, thousands of people from across the world can buy and download it without your active involvement. It’s passive income. It’s also scalable income, because there’s no limit to how many people can buy it, as it needs none of your limited time.
Passive income can come from selling your own products (if you have them) or by recommending affiliate products that pay you a commission for linking to them from your articles, so your readers buy them.
Passive income-earning from affiliate products sales in quick, easy, totally convenient
Affiliate marketing is the process by which you can be an “affiliate” (a subsidiary seller) earning a commission for marketing another person’s products or services (before you create your own products). An affiliate picks products suited to his own expertise niche – because he knows his audiences and their tastes, and can convincingly recommend certain much-wanted products to his community. As he promotes such products, he earns a percentage of the profit from each sale he helps complete.
The process is like this: the job of the affiliate is to entice people to know more about the products he recommends by clicking links that lead from his own site to the product seller’s site. The seller knows (from the code attached to the link) which affiliate sent the customer to his site … and if the customer buys, the set percentage of commission is automatically assigned as payable to the affiliate who sent the customer.
Making your own products earn passive incomes without requiring your time and interventions
If you keep the principles of passive income in mind, there are four steps to take when you create your own products so that you need to spend least time serving clients when they buy them:
- Don’t sell services that require one-to-one or one-to-many type of interactions. “Productize” those services into courses or ebooks that people can learn from on their own.
- With every product, build some FAQs that will solve most of the queries that customers may ask, about the buying of the products. FAQs save lots of author time.
- Try to automate the selling of many products by making the customer exposed to the next product you sell on the “Thank You For Your Purchase” page of the previous product.
- Don’t put information or knowledge into your products that is not evergreen and always-valuable. Putting in information constrained by time frames, or that which can get easily outdated by technology, will require your upgrading the product now and again. Try to avoid that.
3. How To Use Your Time Productively To Maximize Your Gains In The Shortest Reasonable Span
The explanations below show you what your workloads are likely to be if you want to earn more money with a Knowledge Commerce side business. In the first sub-section below we talk of the work in building your audience first. In the second sub-section we talk of adding the creation of products to your workflow.
The third sub-section shows you what you can outsource and how to make the most of external help.
a. Knowing The Workflow Involved In Building Your Audience First
See the diagram below to know the four core components you need to work on, to be able to build the audience you need first, for your business.
Your website and blog – your main components of content marketing
A business website and its accompanying blog need to be viewed as a “brochure-cum-magazine”. While your website should generally include your predominantly static or slow-changing content (e.g. About Us Page, Products and Services Pages, Contact Page etc.), the blog has to be viewed more like a magazine full of category-segregated articles. New articles need to be regularly written and published complementary to our chosen marketing niche and target audiences.
The idea here is that potential customers would become easily bored and not be interested in frequent visits to your website, if the basic business information does not change often (as it won’t). On the other hand, the ever-fresh magazine style blog provides reason for people to return frequently to the website.
Tying in content for email marketing and social media
Social media – such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube – are to be viewed as traffic generators for your website and blog. When a blog post is written, you should simultaneously post short excerpts of the post to social media, with hyperlinks leading back to the blog … so that the social traffic is led back to where you can present yourself as you want to.
Email marketing is another inseparable part of blogging and content marketing. Why is it important to the whole scheme of things? Here’s why. Think what a waste of effort it would be if you posted on social media and brought lots of people to your blog and website, but had no way of then staying in touch with them to bring back, again and again, to your site? This is where email marketing becomes an invaluable add-on.
To be able to create a mailing list of people who have been visitors of your site is the whole purpose behind the email marketing game. On the website, and working along with the blog, you need to include an “optin form” with an enticing free downloadable “lead magnet” (perhaps an ebook, or an email course), that asks people to supply their email addresses if they wish to get regular updates from your site and blog.
Once people are on your mailing list, you have to keep an email campaign going (at an optimum frequency) so that they are reminded of you and your site, but don’t feel badgered to buy your services straight away.
b. When You’ve Built Your Audience, You Need To Start Creating Your Products
As the next step after substantial audience building, you need to build one or two small products that you research among or audiences and find they may need. This is not the time to create a series of courses or a library full of ebooks or launch into a broad-scale membership site. Start with one or two really useful, small, practical products.
The importance of creating a small “tripwire product” first
What is a “tripwire”? It’s a electrical term used to refer to a small wire that acts as a trip-up so you are ready to face the bigger voltage wire that follows. It’s like a small foretaste of what is to follow and alerts you. Applying the tripwire concept in marketing, you, as a solo brand marketer can aim to sell small opening products (low-priced ebooks?) that reset customers’ mental image of you and themselves and your relationship. Like tripwires, small sales help put people into a state of mind ready for the “bigger thing”.
Internet marketing expert, Neil Patel, has described the power of small tripwire sales:
“Think of a tripwire like dating. If you ask a girl or a guy, a random stranger to marry you, what do you think the person is going to say? Chances are he or she is going to end up saying no. The reason the person is going to say no is because the person doesn’t even know you.
But if you ask a random stranger, “Hey would you like to go out for coffee?” there’s a much higher chance that you’ll get a yes.
And if the coffee date goes well, then you may ask the person for dinner, and if the dinner date goes well, you may go on a few more dates, do a few things with the chosen one.
Then fast forward a few months, you may end up moving in together. And then if you ask the person to marry you, the chances of saying yes are much higher. It’s “micro-commitments”. By getting people to take small little actions, you’re much more likely to get them to say yes to your big core offer.”
Handling customers for bigger repurchases after tripwire sales with upsell strategies
What are “upselling” or “cross-selling”? Upselling means you sell bigger products to the customer who has bought small ones. Cross-selling means you offer related products to a customer who has bought something. Either way, the idea is to sell more to the customer. You don’t have to wonder how to do this because there are tried and tested ways you can follow.
You have “Thank You Page” after a product is sold, right? That is where you strike while the customer is already in a purchasing mood. Advertise the upsell or cross-sell product here, and make sure it’s just one step up the price ladder from what the customer originally bought. Clicking a link here should lead to the landing page for the new product you are pushing.
If the customer readily buys the new product, great. But if he doesn’t bite, you will need to pursue him subtly. Email sequences can slowly be sent to the recalcitrant customer reminding him of the new product and its benefits – and if you think he will bite, you can throw in a final sweetener discount to seal the deal.
c. Knowing When To Burn The Midnight Oil Yourself And When To Outsource Helpers
Most side-business Knowledge Commerce marketers are never sure what they should outsource to others to reduce their workloads. Ultimately, the decision is a very individual thing, and it involves your comfort level with another person working on your brand – which is so personal to you and the foundation of your business. In Knowledge Commerce, we work to produce loads of content – creating content for blogging, creating content for marketing, creating content for products … will there ever be a day when you feel someone else can do justice to your unique brand the way you do?
But despite this hesitation, sometimes the workload seems too much to handle, so the only solution is to train someone else to be a reliable and quality-conscious clone of you.
Deciding when to outsource – two ways to think about it
There are two ways to decide what to outsource and when. Some entrepreneurs outsource the secondary workloads while doing the primary workloads themselves. For instance, you, the marketer, may do your own blogging and content creation, the core of your business. You then outsource tasks like social updates, email marketing, blogger outreach, conversion of your scripts to podcasts or videos, and other supportive activities to other freelancers. The brief you would give them – preferably as a brand guidelines handbook – is how to maintain brand voice and brand standards in their activities, to match the standards set by your blogging and product creation.
The second method of outsourcing is to do the work you are terrific at yourself. Let’s say you are really good at talking fluidly for a video or podcast, in a very convincing way. But writing is not your forte. You, therefore, do the voiceovers yourself, and then get someone else to repurpose what you’ve said into written blog posts or social snippets, or marketing materials – since you are not so good with the written work. In other words, you soar on your strengths and get outsource help in areas of your weakness. Both outsourcing methods have their pluses and minuses. And either way, you can never outsource without some intervention from you to see that final quality is up to par with a bit of editing and pruning by you.
Ten tips to getting outsourced work of great quality every time
- Be very sure of exactly what you need outsourced. Don’t be vague about it, be specific about the tasks.
- Assess the costs versus gains of outsourcing. The financial gains of outsourcing should eventually outweigh the costs.
- Always have your brand style guide ready before any outsourcing, and test the freelancer to see if he or she has read it fully.
- Try out a shortlist of freelancers for a trial job to zero in on the ones with maximum potential to be trained for your workload.
- Along with your brief, give lots of supplementary researched content to include, and also visuals – plus examples of other work.
- There is no such thing as a 100% perfect outsourced job. You will still have to supervise, edit and reshape work done.
- Never criticize work – it will affect the motivation and morale of freelancers. Instead, be matter-of-fact about changes you want.
- Decide on a clear workflow between you and your freelancer … when to review work, how many times, how to handle deadlines etc.
- If you have sensitive content to outsource, there’s no harm in asking the freelancer to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
- Maintain a good payment history with your freelancers. They are smaller operators than you are working on very slender margins.
From all these points you may have realized that outsourcing is 90% clarity and 10% work. The more clarity at the beginning the better the work, the faster the results, and the quicker the freelancer gets trained into your ways.
In Summary …
- Make extra money on the side easily via Knowledge Commerce, if you’re a professional in a job that’s not paying enough or is not satisfying enough.
- You take what you are good at – or whatever you love as a topic – and start teaching that knowledge to others via ebooks, courses, membership sites, or pre-packaged consulting.
- Knowledge Commerce is a $325 billion market and growing – and it’s full of solo-entrepreneurs doing this as a full-time business or a side hustle.
- The online world devours knowledge. So your chance of launching a side-hustle selling the unique knowledge you have is marked for success.
- It costs hardly anything to start up. The more cost-restrained you are, not just at startup with but even over time, your business acumen grows sharper and savvier.
- Side-hustler marketers should ideally aim to build and sell as many “passive income” products as possible, where products you sell don’t need your personal attention.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
This post is part of a series that elaborates on “Make Money Online Without Investment Via Knowledge Commerce“.
Other related posts you may like to read are these:
- How To Make Money Online From Home Via Knowledge Commerce
- How To Make Money Online Freelancing In Knowledge Commerce
- How To Make Money Online By Writing For Knowledge Commerce
- How To Make Money Online As A Student Via Knowledge Commerce
- How Beginners Can Grow Passive Incomes … 10 Suggestions
- Make Money Online Without Investment Via Knowledge Commerce