Sometimes, I think my childhood is flawed.
Because I never sold anything.
Whenever I read stories about successful entrepreneurs selling erasers or pencils for profits when they were seven years old, my self-doubt thermometer as an entrepreneur goes up a little.
“I missed out so much!”
Throughout my career, I was very much focused on selling myself to a job offer. Once I got the job, I never had to sell again.
So for the longest time since I started building my online business, Public Lab, I approached it the standard way — building out and selling my products one by one, figuring out my value ladder, and perfecting my sales funnel.
Why? Because theories like the value ladder, sales funnel, and passive income were all part of my early Internet business education. It felt like I needed them to sell and build a business online.
And yes, they are definitely important to grow the business.
But one day, an email from Amy Hoy gave me a whole new perspective:
I can make money anytime.
Wait. What? How?!
I knew having an audience is powerful, but this never crossed my mind.
How I did it in my 1st year
The truth was … I didn’t understand the relationships between direct consumers and myself.
Because while I was an executive at startups throughout my career, I never had an audience who would listen to what I had to say.
So during my 1st year in this business, I was following this workflow: come up with a new idea → validate → test the market → build → launch → take a break → repeat
It was quite a step-by-step process and honestly, it worked well for me.
Then I started my newsletter mainly as a way to stay in touch with people who like my work. I wrote and shared more without knowing what it meant.
A cool story from Amy Hoy
Then one day, I read this article from Amy.
She talked about how she and her husband, Thomas, really wanted to go to this conference called the Funconf. The only thing was … they didn’t have the money.
Then Amy went: “What are you talking about? We can make the money.”
They promoted a tiny tech ebook and a screencast workshop and made $5,000 in a few days.
BAM! Now they had the money to go to Funconf.
This story was so cool to me because I didn’t know this was even possible.
Don’t you need product launches, campaigns, and funnels to sell things? Don’t you need to plan for sales to happen?
The concept of “generating revenue right now” was new and also shocking to me.
I know! The words “making money anytime” sound disgusting and evil. But hear me out first.
Why make money anytime?
Other than sounding absolutely cool, creating values that people want to pay you right away is the ultimate validation every entrepreneur wants.
It is a powerful feeling. It means you have leverage. It also creates flexibility in your life.
Making money anytime doesn’t mean the offer and the product are trash. Again, if you can’t deliver, you might get early customers but you don’t have a business.
You still need to deliver top-quality products and services. The difference is that you can do something “now” to bring in cash.
People already want what you have, but they need a push to take action.
This is why a slight discount or a well-written email can already get people to buy.
When you have something to offer (doesn’t have to be info products, I’ll cover this later), you can “make money anytime”.
What’s the prerequisite?
Does it sound super easy? Well yeah, all the examples make this sound easy. But of course, you and I both know that it is not true.
If you want to be able to “make money anytime” by presenting an offer to your audience, you need to already have built an incredibly strong trust with them.
People will tell you how their copywriting services can help you sell. To me, the copy alone is not enough. Trust and relationships are developed over a long time.
This is why every time I check where my students for Build in Public Mastery come from, I see that 80% of them have been following me for at least 6 months.
(If this is you, thank YOU)
People need time to get to know you, know you're legit, and feel that you can help them.
So if you don’t have an audience yet, you want to consistently create value for the community around you for free. I definitely recommend building in public on one social media platform (for people to discover you) and having a newsletter (to keep in touch).
If you already have a growing audience (even if it is a small one), then read on. I have a few examples I want to share with you!
How does it really work?
After reading Amy Hoy’s email, I created a “Revenue Now Strategy” table on Notion.
I did it because I am terrible at running promotions and having a swipe file like this really gives me the right idea when I need it.
Now given that you have the ability to deliver plus you have an audience that trusts you, here are some ways you can do it.
You can see that all of these things don’t take up a lot of “product development” time.
You can offer services
In under 2 hours, Jay Clouse went from ideation to making money.
He first tweeted about the idea of a service called “Brutally Honest Audit” and when responses were positive, he immediately took in customers.
(I'm only active in one community and it is Jay's Creator Science, it is SO good)
You can run a paid workshop
I had the idea of creating a short course to help creators unlock their process of showing their work - Easy Content Magic.
I shared it on Twitter and to my email list, and without creating the course yet, I got 15 sales.
You can sell sponsorship slots
Jannis Fedoruk-Betschki first had the idea of adding 4 sponsorship slots to his website which has 350 unique visitors each month.
He landed the 1st sponsor privately (I strongly recommend you to do it because it is proof) and then tweeted about it. In 4 hours, 3 more sponsors joined (one being me!)
Because Jannis plays a big part in Build in Public Mastery, as a student and then mentor, so I trust him a lot. And the offer was amazing so I grabbed it.
You can run a promotion
Danbee Shin is a web designer and she put together a “Goodbye 2022 Sale” to offer 40% off her products.
You might wonder whether that pisses off the customers who pay full price. My answer is that 1st-time entrepreneur fears this but non-1st-time entrepreneurs understand that this is more internal fear.
For example, broccoli is $2.5 instead of $3.5 today. Does that make you hate on the supermarket?
Maybe a little, then you move on.
As long as these promotions you run are limited and spontaneous with a fixed timeframe, customers understand. It doesn’t kill your brand.
What does this mean to you?
Most new creators focus all their time on developing new products like books, courses, and templates to sell. They are exactly like my 1st year, following the standard workflow.
Soon, it is important to recognize that there are more ways to create value for your community.
Some ways don’t require a ton of product development.
Some ways might just require your time.
Some ways are purely leveraging your existing traffic or product suite so there’s a minimal effort on your side.
It is liberating to know these possibilities and it makes being a creator so fun and rewarding.
This is your path to building your 6-figure online business.
Oh and, of course, audience-driven entrepreneurship is the future.