Why I gave up passive income and took my products off the market
In March 2015, I finally reached the pinnacle of online business: Passive income. With 3 products on the market, I was making between $10,000 – $12,000 a month.
I even scaled enough that I was averaging $15,000 a month for the first quarter of 2016.
I thought I would be thrilled at reaching a milestone like this, but I wasn’t.
To get some clarity, I met up with my friend and fellow dating coach — Thomas Edwards of theprofessionalwingman.com at Dandelion Chocolate in the Mission District of San Fransisco. (That’s my go-to place for all business meetings because who doesn’t like European Drinking Chocolate?)
“I don’t want to do products anymore,” I told him. “I don’t want to exchange money without knowing that my clients are going to succeed. And I can’t do that with products.”
Though this is an uncommon change of direction, I knew he would understand. He’s been in the business 10 years, and even though people tell him that he should make products, he has refused every single time.
His business is based around a single high-end coaching program.
That fueled my fire to do the unthinkable: I took all my products off the market. Nobody could buy them anymore even if they wanted to.
My decision was final. I was going all in on high-end coaching. I could personally coach men in a group program. And in order to make this new business model scalable, I’d also hire apprentice coaches who could follow my Introverted Alpha system and learn to lead coaching programs themselves.
I thought it would mean a temporary hit to my business until I figured things out, but the opposite happened.
In May 2016, I made $32,000 — my best month ever. In July 2016, I made $42,000. Another record for my business. And it’s just climbing from here.
I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should make products. That’s up to you as a business owner. But I want to walk you through my thought process as I made this decision.
Then you can decide what’s best for your situation. After all, online business is about building something on your terms.
Beyond profits, why are you in business?
I run a dating coaching business for introverted men. We help them attract women naturally without resorting to typical pickup advice that floats around out there.
Our clients are typically smart and successful; they just haven’t cracked the code on dating yet. It’s their success stories that get me going every morning.
For example, one guy I worked with, age 51, had never brought a woman home with him. In Week Two of my program, he emailed me at 2:30am telling me how he went home with a woman after meeting her for the first time that night. He was so excited about the experience that he went on and on in his email.
I can’t get enough of updates like these!
And that’s one of the secrets about selling products from afar. A lot of people will buy, fewer people will use them, and even fewer will see results.
I couldn’t stomach that. Whenever I logged into my dashboard, I saw that the numbers were growing, but people weren’t logging in and taking action. They weren’t finishing what they started.
For example, some people were spending $339 or even $3,199 on products. But they were notorious for backing out of group calls all the time, and never updated me on things. It was painful.
All those numbers on my screen represented someone who said, “This is going to help me. I must solve this dating thing.” Then they never did anything with it. My clients are beating themselves up enough. Buying my products and not using them was just adding fuel to the fire.
Seeing this was the final straw for me. It made me remember why I went into business.
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Experiment until you find what clicks
I don’t regret creating products. Every business is going to have to experiment a little and see what works for them.
For me, products were just a way to organize my knowledge into a system. I know it works for the people who take action on it. The system is very effective when used. In fact, I’m using a refined version of my original programs for my high-end coaching offering now. Except I get to be more hands on and walk people through the process.
As long as you are doing your best every day to work towards your goals, it’s going to help you.
Stop saying you don’t want to “trade time for money”
This is a big reason people say they want passive income.
But what they don’t realize is that products are painstaking to create. For my last one, I spent a whole summer in a dark, cramped recording studio. In addition to studio recording time, I was creating various documents, course pages, etc. A well-organized, 130K-word course was hell to create behind the scenes.
And the work doesn’t stop there. I had several autoresponders for courses I was selling. There were upsells and downsells. I had to update links in my 3- and 5-day email funnels. Whenever I created a new course, I had to think of a way to add it into the mix.
As you add more products to your business, things become more complex, and in my case needlessly so. That’s another reason I’m glad I stopped selling them. My business has become so much more simple: One blog post per week and a webinar with a simple automated sequence for our coaching program.
Play to your strengths
As my business grew, I realized how important it is to play to your strengths and hire people for areas that you aren’t as experienced in.
This is true for the vision of your business as well. When I looked at my sales dashboard and felt uneasy, I realized I cared a LOT. “Caring too much” might be seen as a liability to some business people.
But to me, I saw it as an asset: I care about people so much that I’m only offering coaching to people who are 100% ready and committed. I want to be there and make sure they succeed every step of the way. For everyone else, they’re free to enjoy all our free material.
Behind the scenes of my first $32,000 month
I once read a story about Julius Caesar. He was leading the Roman Navy on a mission to conquer England. As soon as they pulled up on the shores, he made a daring move. He ordered the ships to be burned.
His thinking was that as long as the ships were there, soldiers would be tempted, even if ever so slightly, to retreat. But by getting rid of the ships, defeat was not an option anymore. They had to stay and conquer.
And right now, those are the kind of people my sales team enrolls in our coaching program. People who want to succeed, or die trying. This is a different audience than a passive consumer of a self-paced course.
I have an 8-week coaching program where I only accept a limited number of people. Currently, we charge $5,000 per person. We meet frequently and have check ins. That way, everyone is committed to getting results together. And because people are paying a premium, my apprentice coaches and I can give them more personalized attention.
This was a key realization for me. The men we work with are logical and linear thinkers. The skills we teach them feel edgy. At any given moment, there is no way to tell if you’re making progress. But if my team and I are there the whole time, we can give them that human-to-human reassurance. And that’s huge for my guys.
My sales process has changed as well. It’s funny. When I was learning about online business, people talked about emails, sales pages and conversion rates. But I’ve found phone calls are the highest converting sales method ever. It converts at 25% for my sales team.
I wouldn’t recommend that people sit there and dial everyone on their email list. But if you’re offering a high-end program, you can invite them to apply and speak with you directly. You can invest more time because each transaction is worth so much more.
At this point, my focus has changed from making a business that follows the standard for online business to making a business that gets people results — one that I can be fully proud of. And I’ve never been more thrilled at my progress than I am right now.
To my coaches out there: Have you thought about creating a system that you can use, refine, and then train other coaches to carry out for you?
Let me know your story in the comments, and I’ll give my two cents.