Admit it… you’ve wondered.
You’ve taken the advice of online gurus. You’ve created sophisticated sales funnels and follow up systems. You’re even cranking out content on a daily basis to drive traffic to your online course.
But still, the client activity in your bank account is about as active as a bear in hibernation.
And you can’t help but wonder…
Is it just a case of being patient, pushing through and waiting for the big bucks to roll in? Or is it that your online course sucks and destined never to succeed?
If you’re like me, you’ve wrestled with, or are currently grappling with this predicament. Wondering whether to stick or twist to a new product offering.
The correct answer is neither. Because here's the truth.
If you’re an online entrepreneur selling information products, you’re competing in a crowded space. It's not t say you can't win, but it is one of the more difficult routes to success.
But fortunately, there is a solution. A clearer and simpler path to profitability...
You can stop focussing on selling products and courses online with little identity and instead…
Switch your focus on selling the primary differentiator you own…
The consulting and coaching industry offers the perfect platform to profit from this fact. You see, here’s the thing…
Generating momentum and profits as a consultant or coach isn't all that difficult.
It's far less stressful than selling products or information courses, especially when you're either an aspiring entrepreneur or struggling entrepreneur.
So for the remainder of this post, let me explain why I chose consulting...
...and why you should too!
The global consulting and coaching industry is worth around $240 billion.
That's according to ALM Intelligence, a US-based analyst firm that has been tracking the consulting industry since the 1970’s.
The industry grew steadily throughout the 1970s-90s before a slowdown in 2002. Then, another downturn during the global recession in 2009. But since 2011 it’s been a case of steady growth and estimates are for this growth to continue.
But here’s the most amazing thing about this industry…
Despite mid-large sized firms dominating market share, it’s the independent contractors who are making waves financially. Yes, that’s right, people like us!
Just take a look at this chart from Consultancy.UK
Notice on the far left the independent contractors bubble. Quite amazing to think they are some of the highest earners in the world. And remember, in total, this is a $240 billion industry.
Doesn’t that whet your appetite for the opportunities in consulting?
As for regions, the U.S. market is the most mature, with a 40% global market share. But, for those outside the U.S., do not despair.
The EMEA regions (Europe, Middle East, and Africa combined) account for 41% of global share.
Meanwhile, the Asia Pacific Region has a smaller proportion of the world market at 16%. However, it is the fastest growing, at 6% per annum. Australia being the most important country in this region.
So with the opportunity clear in your mind, you might be asking...
What exactly is consulting and why the demand?
Rather than breaking the consulting into the various categories (management, operations, financial, etc.), let’s make this easier to understand.
There are three basic services you can offer someone in the information business.
So, let’s be clear. DIY the least desirable solution you can offer, yet; it is the most competitive space.
As students, we all start out with great intentions. But, here’s the truth. Approximately only 10-15% of students ever finish an online course they buy.
Now, I don’t want to speak for all guys, but from my experience, this is not surprising. When it comes to reading manuals, we suck. We just want to rip things open, get our hands dirty and learn from our mistakes as we progress.
Ladies tend to be more patient, but even at that; most prefer to learn by doing.
Just think about when you bought your first phone or smartphone for example. You might have taken a look at the first few pages of the 100-page manual to figure out how to turn the thing on right?
But after that, you just played around with the thing. Got to understand it better and later through trial and error, figured out how it works.
So, in the online business world, when someone says…
"Okay, so you want to know how to do XYZ? No problem, here’s a course with 20 hours of video training”...
It just doesn’t appeal as much.
And yet, this is where new entrepreneurs are falling over themselves. Launching online courses left, right and center in an increasingly competitive space.
And of course, the ever crowded market space means you need to shout a little louder.
Meaning, your sales and marketing efforts become that bit more aggressive, running the risk of tarnishing your brand, reputation, and image.
DWY is a step up from the DIY approach.
Go back to the example of the phone/smartphone. This DWY service is akin to walking into the shop and having the assistant show us how it works.
Within 30 minutes, we know exactly how to turn the phone on. Even make phone calls, send messages and download apps.
That 100-page manual is almost rendered useless because we have been shown how to do it. All we do is act on this knowledge by putting it into practice and become a regular user. This way, we never forget.
So, again, go back to the online entrepreneur and their student.
Rather than sell them a course you know they won't complete, you work alongside them. You help them achieve their end goal by first showing, but then getting them to take action.
And at the end, once they are proficient, you say…
“By the way, in case you’re stuck, here’s the 20-hour video training course you can refer to”.
In some cases, this is the most desirable. Some cases!
You walk into the shop to buy your smartphone. The assistant shows you how to turn it on and then starts talking about this incredible feature…
...the ability to download apps.
So, you list out 20 apps you’d like to have, and within a few minutes, he’s got them downloaded onto your phone. Next, he shows you how to access them. Everything is done for you, and you’re free to enjoy.
With your online business, it’s akin to outsourcing and having the work delivered to you.
You want your website to get to page 1 in Google for example. So you outsource the work to a specialist with a clear directive. They do as you ask and deliver as expected.
Well, kind of.
Whether you’re the smartphone buyer with the apps downloaded, or the website owner who shoots to the number 1 ranking in Google...
... the fact is you have no clue how to handle any issues should they arise.
What happens if you want to download another app? Or what happens if your page starts slipping down the rankings?
You either have to start searching through the 100-page manual or 20-hour video course from scratch or...
... you need to hire the services of someone again and again, which can be costly.
And so, the real sweet spot is having a combination of all three of the above.
Teaching clients first. Then motivating them to take action on a consistent basis. And finally, helping out with the implementation where necessary.
Do that, and you move someone toward their desired result much faster, which is exactly the role you should look to adopt as an online consultant.
One graphic, in particular, caught my eye. It documented the six ways to make money online. Here it is:
As you’ll see, online courses and coaching appear in the top right quadrant.
The quadrant that represents industries with the lowest costs but highest profits. And that’s where consulting sits too.
In fact, there are six primary benefits you can identify with the consulting industry:
The profit margins are high because you can charge a premium price while keeping the costs low.
If you help people reach their goals faster, you're justified in charging higher prices. You can do this in one of two ways:
As a consultant, your brief is to meet at least one of these two objectives. Hence, the higher price point.
As for costs, and despite what many might think, there’s no need for a fancy office or expansive team. Meaning, the overheads are low. For the most part, it’s just you, a computer, some subscription software and a telephone.
When you become successful and want to get all fancy, hire a virtual assistant.
Your mission as a consultant is to deliver results for your clients. Period!
For example, imagine this scenario...
You’re hired by a medical practice to run paid ads for them and deliver them new clients for under $100 per person. They sign a three-month contract with you, paying $1k per month for your service.
Three months in, and you’re hitting your targets. Each new client is coming in the door at $90. At this point, what do you think the client is going to do?
Say "thanks very much. Nice knowing you. See ya!”. It's unlikely. What’s more likely to happen is they say…
“Wow, good job. Can we extend the contract?”
So, you have this great opportunity to create a recurring monthly income stream.
Online courses are a dream source of passive income when you pull them off.
However, the effort that goes into creating one is intense. Trust me; I’ve been there (nearly killed me the first time around... and yes, I failed with that too!).
Too many advisors loosely proclaim, "oh don’t worry, you don’t need to be tech savvy".
"Just throw a sale page up, connect it to a shopping cart, send a few emails and watch the clients role in. As for delivering the course, upload a few basic training videos, and bobs your uncle."
It’s not true. Well, at least not in my experience...
Creating, launching and marketing your course is time intensive and requires some technical knowledge. At the very least, you need to be computer literate. If you're not, you’ll forced to learn it damn quick.
Meanwhile, in the consulting world, it’s much different. It’s a much easier service to set up (and much simpler to sell too!)
Meaning much less stress and tech overwhelm.
According to research, only 10-15% of students who buy a course online actually consume the full thing.
Meaning, the majority of your students never get the results they desired. Or the results you intended on delivering for that matter.
With consulting, you get to work one-on-one or in small groups. Assisting and motivating others to keep moving forward and achieve their objectives.
So, the odds of success increase considerably.
If you’re helping clients achieve greater results in their lives, it means they’re happy.
More satisfied customers mean more testimonials and referrals. And these are all important factors in boosting your brand, image, and authority positioning.
This authority positioning is further enhanced because you’re not viewed as common. Just “one of many” selling a discounted online course.
Rather, you’re marketing yourself as an expert in your industry, charging premium pricing.
When I first left the world of employment back in 2009 (and again at the end of 2012), I was driven by the desire for freedom.
Sure, financial freedom. But above all else, the freedom of time and mobility.
You see, the dream for entrepreneurs like us isn’t to retire and never work again. The dream is that we want to choose when we work and from where right?
On Tuesdays, your day might start at 7 am in your home office. Thursday’s might begin at 10 am in your local coffee shop.
You might work late Mondays, taking client calls until 10 pm. But you might finish every Friday 1 pm, when you get to play golf, go to the cinema or spend time some quality time with your kids.
The important point being you are in control. You get to design your life.
It’s a $240 billion industry and growing. It helps clients get results faster. The obstacles to entry (i.e. cost being one of them) are minimal. And it provides an incredible opportunity to break free.
Everyone must be rushing to consulting and coaching so right?
Of course, there is competition in this space. But, if you were to survey 100 online entrepreneurs, I bet only 1-2% are offering consulting. Whereas 98% plus are trying to sell information courses, which is much more competitive.
So, the question is why?
There are a couple of reasons actually.
Let’s take a look at each of these.
People are afraid to offer their services unless recognized as an expert in their niche. They worry that without the validation, they won’t be taken seriously. In other words, they wait for permission.
Until someone says, okay, you’ve spent 10,000 hours working at your craft. Now you’re an expert.
It's silly, but most of us struggle with self-doubt. I’m no exception. Even after seven years of studying marketing online, I questioned whether I knew enough.
Online consultant Frank Kern released an ebook quashing such thinking a few years ago. The way Frank put it:
If we could help somebody get the results for themselves faster, easier, more efficiently, than they could do it for themselves, that’s all the credentials we need.
And what’s more, that’s all the client cares about. Forget about the letters after your name, the Harvard degree, the jam-packed CV or where you grew up. None of it matters.
I grew up in a town of 3,500 people. I’m an introvert who suffers from anxiety and freezes at the thought of public speaking. I have zero connections in this world of consulting.
I’ve failed. For seven years in the online marketing space. And in college, I failed my first-year exams. When I repeated them that summer, I passed by a mere 1%...
...my poor mother was so worried when I told her I thought I’d failed the repeat exams… sorry mom!
But it doesn’t matter. Because, in my quest for freedom from the cubicle, I’ve accepted failure as par for the course. And today, I know more about digital marketing than my clients.
I provide clarity, and I help them get more clients by knowing above all else, what not to do! It’s the same for anyone of you reading this right now.
The “lack of credentials” barrier is a myth. Time to banish it.
Steve Ferrante once said:
Most newcomers in the online business world start at the bottom of the mountain. Trying to push the snowball uphill by selling cheap offers.
But it’s difficult pushing the snowball uphill. Just as it's difficult to get a lot of customers starting out, regardless of the price point. And don't forget, that marketplace is already crowded.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the thinking. It's easier to get a someone to make a repeat purchase than first time purchase.
However, it’s an entirely different scenario when you are the brand. When you are personally providing the service.
You see, as a consultant, your ambition should be to start at the top of the mountain and push downhill. Replace the $7-$97 offers with free content.
Content that widens the value base and enhances the experience for the prospect.
Meanwhile, limit your offer to consulting only to begin with and charge premium pricing. This way, it only takes a couple of clients to generate momentum in your business.
So, don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you need to start at the bottom...
Start like you mean to continue and value your time accordingly.
The consulting industry offers a remarkable opportunity. Not only for aspiring entrepreneurs. But also for those who have struggled to profit online like I did for several years.
Benefits include the size ($240 billion), growth trajectory and global nature. But also, the opportunity for independent operators like us to earn income on par with the highest respected in the industry.
The reason being, independents like us, are able to focus on particularly niche opportunities. Something we can scale fast to become authorities in our space.
What’s more, as a consultant or coach, you’re increasing the odds of success for your clients.
Showing students what to do doesn’t cut it. After all, only 15% of students ever complete an online course. Not only do they want hands-on help, but they also need it...
And they are willing to pay premium pricing for it!
So, don’t sell yourself short by undervaluing your service to others. Don’t think you need to compete in the crowded marketplace of $27 products to succeed.
And don’t fall for the myth you don’t have the credentials to succeed. If you can get your client from where they are stuck, to where they want to go, faster than if they did it by themselves, you're qualified.
Look, operating in the consulting and coaching space is among the prime positions. Not only are the profit margins high, but there is little stress with technology and set up costs too.
Furthermore, as a consultant or coach, you build authority positioning fast. All while more efficiently moving toward your goal of time and financial freedom more quickly.
If you would like further information on how to tap into this incredible opportunity, check out some of my free content on the website related to coaching and consulting.
In particular, sign up for this free webinar I’m running.
In under one hour, I’ll show the exact steps you need to take to grab your piece of the $240 billion pie.
James is a digital marketing consultant and online business strategist. He helps coaches, consultants, and solo professionals market their business online so they establish authority positioning and predictably generate 5-20 high-ticket, new clients every month.