Many bloggers dream of using their blogs to create a thriving online business that lets them quit their day job, but few of them will actually get rich from blogging.
Ramit Sethi was able to turn his college blog, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, into a successful information product with more than 30,000 paying customers. He also used his blog to instantly launch a New York Times bestseller.
So how did Ramit do it?
Wondering the same thing myself, I sent a cold email to Ramit to find out.
I interviewed Ramit about his journey from creating a blog to becoming an expert in personal finance who has created more than 20 successful informational products.
Here's what Ramit told me:
1. Identify your expertise and passion.
Ramit started blogging about personal finance after he heard many of his friends in the dining commons at Stanford asking the same questions about overdraft fees and other financial issues.
He tried to offer his friends a free one-hour class on personal finance, but no one would ever come. After trying that for six months, he decided to create a blog about money and tipping to share his message instead.
At first, he didn't have many readers, but he felt he was onto something, so he kept writing. He started to study other blogs, and kept writing a lot. Six months later, people were starting to read some of his stuff.
Ramit's biggest takeaway from this: "Show up, and don't give up too early."
2. Establish yourself as an authority on that topic.
Ramit has great content, but he also made an effort to establish himself as an authority on personal finance early on. He tried to build relationships with journalists, especially at The Wall Street Journal.
He would say to them, "You guys are great, but you need content on money."
That didn't work right away, but he didn't give up, and kept reaching out. Then Ramit spoke at the Financial Blogger Conference (FinCon) in Chicago, and six months later the Journal called, asking to feature one of his articles. They linked to his site, and overnight he had 9,000 new views on his article.
Ramit said this is one of the things that really helped "put him on the map."
3. Pick your audience.
One of the secrets to the high conversion rate of Ramit's products is how he carefully qualifies his audience, rather than trying to sell to everyone.
He wanted to filter out fence-sitters who would waste time with questions without ever actually buying the product. That's why his blog posts and landing pages have numerous examples of language to discourage the wrong buyer, such as "This isn't for you if you're looking for a magic bullet or get-rich-quick scheme."
4. Ask your audience questions to identify unmet needs.
When Ramit went on book tour for his New York Times bestseller, he asked his customers and fans how he could help them even more.
After a few cities, he realized that he kept hearing variations of the same question over and over: How can I make more money?
That's when Ramit got the idea to begin building informational products beyond his book that could help his customers learn how to make more money. He did some testing to see what people were most interested in learning about, such as getting a new job, negotiating a higher salary, and freelancing. He then determined to focus on freelancing and created a course to help people learn how to make an extra $1,000 a month.
5. Spend time building a brand that focuses on quality.
From his blog to his first book to his informational products, Ramit always makes the time to ensure quality.
Unlike most Silicon Valley tech CEOs who might tell you to "just ship it," Ramit and his team always do extensive work and testing before launching anything, sometimes taking a year or two to create a new course.
One of the things that allows Ramit to be thoughtful enough to build such a premium brand is "unscheduling."
He does this by blocking off Wednesdays to work on big picture ideas.
Because he's built a brand that is dedicated to quality and delivering value to his customers, he doesn't need to discount in order to drive sales.
Ramit also does all kinds of little things that signal quality. For example, whenever someone purchases a course from him, they get a welcome call from a trained customer service representative.
If you want more advice on starting an online business, you might want to check out this free guide that Ramit wrote.