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How to monetize your audience

I've built info products, agencies, SaaS products, and others off the backs of small & large audiences. Here's how to monetize your audience.

Who is this for?

Define term: Creator
Someone who creates publicly viewable content via newsletter, podcast, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, or any other social platform. NOTE: Even if it’s not your primary job, you’re still a creator.

Start Here

Monetizing is the wrong word.
The reason it’s the wrong word is because there are ways to leverage your audience without monetizing it.
This is critical to understand ⬇

Why an audience is valuable

An audience is valuable because you have instant distribution.
Launching a product? → Instant customers
Building a community? → Instant members
Running a service business? → Automatic leads

An example of leverage that doesn’t involve monetization

But there are other examples of leveraging your audience that don’t involve monetization.
The best example is deal flow.
If you run a private equity firm or a holding company, inbound leads are your best friend.
And even though acquisition leads don’t provide direct cashflow, they’re still valuable to you.

The real purpose of an audience

The purpose of an audience: to make it easier and faster to achieve your goal — whatever it is.
You have 500,000 followers? You don’t need to sell sponsorships.
You can, but you don’t need to.
Leverage your audience to achieve the goal that you set.
If you don’t know what your ultimate goal is, keep reading.
If you do know your goal, also keep reading. I’ll show you how to get there.

Ultimate Goal

How to determine your ultimate goal
If you already know your goal, skip this section.

There are 3 types of goals:
Cashflow goals
Net worth goals
Goals unrelated to wealth or money
For the purpose of growing an audience to build leverage, those are your options.
We’re not going to discuss #3 (because very few people build an audience for this reason).
That leaves us with cashflow goals and net worth goals.

The difference between Cashflow goals and Net Worth goals

Cashflow prioritizes money coming in now.
Net Worth prioritizes bigger money coming in later.
The actions to accomplish each of these tasks often clash.
For instance, if you’re reinvesting cashflow into the business to make it bigger & better, you’ll sacrifice cash now. And if you want to collect cash now, you’ll find it harder to make your business bigger & better.
Make sense?

What if I want to do both at the same time?

Doing both requires leveraging an entire ecosystem of products, services, offers, and funnels.
This is only recommended for someone who:
Has lots of experience building & managing multiple businesses
And even then, it often doesn’t make sense.

Which should I prioritize now?

General Guidelines:
If you have lots of cash in the bank, prioritize net worth.
If you don’t have lots of cash in the bank, prioritize cashflow.
Having said that, remember — use your audience to achieve your goals.
It’s impossible for me to make recommendations without knowing your specific situation.

5 ways to monetize

Courses, Coaching, Community
Sponsorship
Hybrid of 1 & 2
Lead Generation
Ecommerce or SaaS product (from scratch or through acquisition)

Courses, Coaching, Community

Courses
The best courses in the world generate millions of dollars.
Don’t let anyone tell you that “courses” are for “gurus.”
They’re not. They’re for creators who like to help people and make money.
But the most important thing to know about courses:
They’re not effective for every audience or industry.

Example:
A course for Twitter growth makes sense.
A course for buying & eating insects does not.

Are there ways to monetize buying & eating insects?
Yes — but a course isn’t the best way.

Pros of courses:
Create once, sell thousands of times
Great margins
Limited customer service
Flexible hours and lifestyle
Cons of courses:
Harder to deliver results for customers
Low equity value
Don’t make sense for all industries
Significant time investment before getting your first customer

Coaching
Coaching is often, but not always, paired with courses.
The reason why is simple:
You can charge 5-10x what you’d be able to charge for a course.
That sounds great! Why wouldn’t I just do that?
Well, the time investment is significant — and your workload will be much higher.

It’s difficult to scale a coaching program.
It’s possible, but it’s a massive haul.

Example:
You teach people how to run their own Short Term Rental (STR) real estate business.
If you want to remove yourself from the day-to-day operations:
You must hire coaches to provide fulfillment to customers
You must hire an onboarding team
You must track results rigorously
You must grow & manage an outbound sales team
You must grow & manage an inbound sales team
You must run paid ads at large scale
You must provide exceptional customer experience
This is a very difficult business to run — but it makes a lot of money.
You may say “all businesses require these things,” and you’re right to some degree.
But this is a different beast.
And it’d take me a few minutes on a phone call to explain why.

An important caveat:
You get to decide how big your business is.
If you want a couple coaching clients to pay your rent each month, you likely only need 2 clients.
You’d charge $2500-5000 per month, and the time commitment is reasonable.
After all, you only have 2 clients.
This is why I must treat each person’s case individually.
There are too many variables to make absolute statements.

Pros of coaching:
High ticket offer ($$$)
Great margins
Only need a few clients
You get to be picky about the clients you take on
Can set a flexible schedule

Cons of coaching:
Difficult to scale
If you don’t set boundaries, your schedule will be horrific
Expectation of results is higher

Sponsorship

The second way to monetize is sponsorship.
Build an audience → Sell other people’s product to your audience
Though sponsorships have been around forever, they’re growing in popularity.
With an uncertain landscape for paid ads, brands are moving to more personal channels.
After all, customers by from people — not brands.

The single most important metric when you sell sponsorships:
The number of repeat sponsorship purchases.
Does a brand come back time and again to sell to your audience?
If not, they lost money on your audience.
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