The 5 "R's" of Monetizing Your Expertise

jasonverdelli
Jason Verdelli CEO, Phase 2 Solutions, LLC

Posted on December 6th 2012

The 5 "R's" of Monetizing Your Expertise

So, you have an area of expertise and content that supports it…something people would be interested in paying for? Somewhere along the line you may have thought about ways to turn this into a revenue model. With current pay-for-access platforms, doing so has never been easier. However, turning your expertise into revenue takes more than setting up a site on the right platform. It requires constant effort and cultivation on your part. Most of all, it takes the 5 “R’s”: Research, Relevancy, Relating, Reacting and Reaching out.

Do Your Research

Knowing your market is paramount in any business endeavor. You may have a “real life” business that could translate to success online or you may be starting from scratch. Whatever the case, it’s important to understand what your potential clients or followers are looking for. To start, find the right platform. Look for an option that provides easy publishing options, community sharing, personalized access and solid administrative tools. You want something simple yet effective. Currently, Social HubSite provides one of the most user-friendly tools available. Finding the right platform is a great step, but it doesn’t stop there. Understand the trends of your market, what they’re looking for and what’s missing from what’s currently available…find a way to fill that void. Doing the right research up front and your journey toward a successful pay-for-access site or pay-for-access blog will be smooth.

Stay Relevant

Research has shown that in every phase of a business, one of the keys to long-term success is staying relevant. This is just as important when it comes to online businesses. Online distractions not only exist, they work. Your customers are distracted with every click. What does that mean for you? It means that if you’re not creating content that relates to their life and provides information they cannot get anywhere else, they’ll leave. They’ll find it somewhere else, maybe even for free. This means you must stay current. Post content frequently; provide updates when content becomes dated. If customers are paying for content, they expect to receive it regularly. Utilize e-newsletter tools that send content from your site to your followers’ inboxes (this provides convenience that they might not receive elsewhere). Make your blog a daily information hub. Paying customers will not be put off by “too much information,” but they’ll surely be lost with a lack thereof.  Relevant sites lead to content, regular clients.         

Relate and React

Posting content is not enough. If you want to earn revenue from your site, you must create a sense of community. How does this happen? Through proper relating and reacting tactics. Find a way to not only relate to your customers, but to help them relate to each other. Ask questions, encourage online discussions and online community building (friend requesting, etc). Use each blog post as an opportunity to learn about your members and to find ways to relate to them. Host events (even if they’re webinars), switch up the posting medium (use video blogging and sharing tools instead of text, encourage your clients to do the same), host contests. Whatever you do, remember to shake things up from time to time. Solid relationships lead to solid communities. Reacting to your clients (professionally, of course) is just as important as relating to your clients. Clients are not only paying for access to your content, they’re paying for access to you! Don’t leave questions and comments hanging if a response is required. Make time to react to your paying followers and clients. This strengthens your site and gives a strong voice to the content you post.

Reach Out

To remain successful, growth is required. This means additional effort on your part, especially in the beginning. Reaching out can take a variety of forms.

  • Administrative

Sometimes it takes a personal effort to be successful. Reach out to your contact list, use social media sites, especially if you already have a following. Spread the news about your site and encourage visitors to give it a try. Be your own evangelist and create a buzz. Whatever it takes.

  • Client-to-Client

As soon as you have a single paying contact, your clients can help you grow. If they’re happy customers, they’ll be happy to share. But, don’t be shy. Ask your clients to spread the word; they can open up a whole new realm of potential clients.

  • Organic

Create a strong sales page. Incorporate popular search terms (use Google’s keyword tool as a starting point) when writing your front page. Outline exactly what information your site provides so customers know what to expect. Eventually your growth model may become almost exclusively organic as your online community grows. From time to time, reevaluate your strategies, examine your community, look for strengths; avoid weaknesses. Most importantly, keep your information relevant and useful. But, remember: it is possible to monetize your expertise online.  A successful online revenue model is never once and done.

Find out more at Social HubSite

jasonverdelli

Jason Verdelli

CEO, Phase 2 Solutions, LLC

There is nothing in today’s world of modern technology that we can’t learn from over 10,000 years of civilization. History has taught us the power of uniting a purpose-drive community, small or large. Communities save lives, bring cures to diseases, help others in need and so much more. This is why I get out of bed everyday. My purpose in life is to help organizations create a culture of community for a greater good.

It took me years to really discover this passion of helping people and organizations unite their communities. I started my company, Phase 2 Solutions (an online marketing company), back in 2005 and for the most part the first 5 years. Like most that come out of college into the working world I wanted to make money and “live the American Dream”, but there was something missing. I struggled for years like any other business person in their first few years trying to grow a business. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I met one of my now business partners that ask me probably one of the most important questions I have ever heard. He said, “What greater purpose are you serving for the world? When they bury you in the ground, what do you want to have left behind to this world?”. I was shocked and never really thought about what I was doing for those first few years that way. This is what drove me to where I am today.

This is a quote that helped shape my mindset:

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
- Steve Jobs

Here is another quote that also helped:

“Be the change you want to see in this world.”
- Gandhi

Answering this question took several months and wasn’t easy. I looked at all of the puzzle pieces floating around in my head and started to put them together. I had been doing online marketing for years. Being the outgoing person that I am, I naturally enjoyed connecting people together. I put these 2 things together and realized that in today’s world more than ever, there is much more accessibility to unite purposeful communities together that serve a greater good. With the power of new social technology and strategic direction I could help many people and organizations harness the power of a purpose-driven community.

As I discovered this passion I realized a monumental flaw. The growth of social networking and digital connectivity, although a great pool of opportunity, actually makes it much more difficult for people and organizations to focus people’s time and attention. The more social networks that pop up, status updates to read, emails to read and ever growing distractions that naturally come with increased connectivity make it ever more challenging. This is when I saw the opportunity to create Social HubSite, a platform to help people and organizations build a purpose driven community while still staying connected to ever-growing expansion of social networking. I knew this was the first step in leading me to my vision.

This is the quote that inspired me to take my technology talents to develop Social HubSite:

“Without a paper – a journal of some kind – you cannot unite a community.”
- Gandhi

Social HubSite is a central online hub and community that is for a specific purpose run by a person or an organization. I learned that it is not just the technology that is important in uniting a community, but the way it is run. You can have the best technology in the world, but if you don’t understand how to grow and effectively manage your community, the benefits are far from reachable. This is where I realized that myself and my company was really responsible for helping organizations create a “culture of community”. In short, a culture of community is the way you run your online community and the way the members of it are interacting. It is the core to which communities either grow or die.

This premise of building a culture of community with an online community is not only the reason why my company exists, but also the purpose behind my blog. I want to inspire and give direction to people and organizations that want to make a difference by tying in a purpose-driven online community with the community that exists in real life. The goal being to get others to build trust behind the purpose of your community and to take action to support the purpose of your community.

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Comments

Deepak DHUNGEL
Posted on December 7th 2012 at 1:55PM

The online community is popular and same individual can belongs to various various community with different scope and variety. As we grow and become mature also as a member in the particular community, the growth varies depending upon time and intetest. Some become extinct and some go forward with varied speed. Thanks kor highlighting diffetent aspects of it and enjoyed reading.

jasonverdelli
Posted on December 8th 2012 at 1:29PM

I agree with you Deepak. I find that there always needs to be some sort of draw into the community at each stage. We don't want to launch one, get a ton of active members and then never implement engagement strategies for when the online community matures. Excellent comment :)

William_Miller
Posted on December 7th 2012 at 2:52PM

As for me, I am very active online community part. I like, comment and share my thoughts and ideas. I like reading articles on multiple topics.

Opinions my friends have, influence me greatly for further discoveries and inventions. Frankly saying, I'm not really sure how big this community is. Must be really enormous. And I'm proud to be a part of it))


____________________________

William - http://www.carid.com/

jasonverdelli
Posted on December 8th 2012 at 6:37PM

William, 

I am the same way. I feel each one of us has a community around us, we just need to first look at it as a community, then take the actions that get us closer to where we want to go.

jasonverdelli
Posted on December 8th 2012 at 1:29PM

I agree with you Deepak. I find that there always needs to be some sort of draw into the community at each stage. We don't want to launch one, get a ton of active members and then never implement engagement strategies for when the online community matures. Excellent comment :)

Robin Carey
Posted on December 9th 2012 at 3:48PM

Great strategy overview for community.  Interestingly, when we survyed 600 social media and marketing managers about online community, those that had them as a way to connect with customers preferred them over other alternatives.  (See our TheSocialCustomer Index #3.)  Also, for more great insight about online community, follow and search Vanessa DiMauro of Leadership Networks.