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Can you make a full-time income offering one-on-one services online? Or are you better off with a business model that lets you reach many customers at the same time?
I love when people ask me these questions … because I have a pretty strong opinion.
For years now, I’ve taught tens of thousands of online entrepreneurs how to build thriving businesses providing one-on-one services, and here’s why:
You can make a great living offering one-on-one services … without much start-up cost … without burning the candle from both ends … and get paid right from the get-go … as long as you set your business up right.
Despite what many experts teach, my clients and I have proven that this business model is one of the easiest ways to make money online (in any service-based industry), while providing great results and meaningful transformations to clients … while also making a great live for yourself, success on your terms style.
That’s why in this series of posts, I’m going to share with you some of my best advice on how to build and grow an online, one-on-one, service-based business. (Part 1 is this post you’re reading; Parts 2, 3, and 4 are linked at the bottom of this article.)
Rest assured that what you’ll be learning is based on real-life experiences—not theory.
What I’m going to share with you is based on my own experiences after quitting my corporate job in 2009 … as well as the experiences of thousands of clients I’ve worked with since then (including one client who built her business to $1 million on foundation of one-on-one services).
Let’s begin with …
3 Reasons Online Courses, Digital Downloads, and Group Programs Are the Worst Online Business Ideas for Newbies
I understand the allure of online courses, group programs, and digital downloads.
I get the seduction of online business ideas that allow you to make “passive income,” “leverage your time,” and “make money in your sleep.”
We all dream of making a $#*t ton of money without working very hard.
But it’s just that: a dream.
I know people who are running multi-million-dollar online businesses who are far from hanging out on the beach. They’re still working their tails off, glued to their computers 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Or at least working 40+ hours/week, which is way more than my clients and I like to work.
I understand that you want to reach more people and make more impact. And maybe you don’t have a schedule that allows you to be on the phone with clients one-on-one.
But here’s where the deck is stacked against you when you’re trying to start out selling courses, digital downloads, or products:
1. Your email list isn’t big enough (if you have one at all).
Generally, between 1-5% of an email list will convert into clients. If you have a list of 1,000 people, you can expect to make 10-50 sales.
Of course, many factors go into whether you’ll have a 1% or a 5% conversion rate. Most people who are just starting out will convert at 1%.
Because you’re new. You don’t have a ton of online marketing experience. You don’t exactly know how to write great copy. You don’t have testimonials. You don’t have raving fans. People don’t have experience working with you. You’re a new and untested entity.
And so, you can expect that only a few, select people will be interested in working with you.
2. You have to learn to do a ton of new things—and fast.
Let’s say you want to go ahead and sell a $395 course, and let’s assume you’re okay with a 1% conversion rate.
You’re going to do this big launch, sell 10 spots, and make $3950. That sounds great … until you think about all the work and time you have to put in.
You have to create an online course, and it’s going to take you ten times longer than you think.
Then you have to create all the marketing materials for your launch. And then you have to create a webinar.
Since you haven’t done any of these things before, you first have to learn how to do them. And then you have to actually do them. (Have you ever made a pitch at a webinar? If not, then the first few times you do it, you’re probably not going to be great at it.)
And so, even if in your head it all sounds great, in reality, it’s much harder than it seems. You have this huge list of things you’ve never done before. And all the pressure is on you to do all of it right and make bank.
3. It takes longer than you think to see profits.
Let’s assume your product launch is successful and you make $3950. That’s great for this month.
But here’s the tricky part: you can’t launch again next month! You have to wait at least a few months before you can launch again.
In the meantime, you need to be growing your list, because you can’t keep selling the same stuff to the same people and expect to have the same conversion rate.
So you’re putting in all this work and investing in a ton of tools and applications, things like your email service provider, webinar platform, landing page builder, and so on. And most of these tools are subscription-based, so you’ll be paying for them whether or not you’re using them.
As you can see, it’s extremely risky to rely on product launches when you’re just starting out (assuming you want to make consistent income).
On the other hand, offering one-on-one services totally eliminates all of these problems.Click to TweetOffering one-on-one services completely eliminates all of the problems with product launches.
5 Reasons One-on-One Services Are the Best Way to Get Started with an Online Business
1. One-on-one services are easier to sell.
You can sell one-on-one services even if you don’t have a website or an email list. You don’t have to have expert-level marketing skills. You don’t need a huge advertising budget—you don’t have to advertise at all.
(Wondering how? Read all the posts in this series to find out. They’re linked at the bottom of this one for easy reference.)
Now, compare that with other online business ideas.
To sell online courses and information products you’ll need access to huge amounts of traffic. That means building your email list through paid ads, going into joint venture partnerships with people who already have an audience (and sharing your sales with them as an incentive), and rolling out complicated—and expensive—product launches, as I described above.
You don’t need any of that to start getting one-on-one clients. That’s why …
2. You can get started with zero (or near-zero) investment.
You don’t have to have a lot of technology, capital, or manpower with this online business. All you need to set up your service biz is time, elbow grease, an email account, and a PayPal account. That’s it!
Depending on the services you offer, you may also need to buy special software. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, then you’ll need to have Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. If you’re a video editor, you’ll have to have pro-level software and a powerful computer.
But if this is something you’ve been doing for some time, you may already have everything you need anyway.
This is also an online business idea that you can implement all by yourself. No need to hire assistants or other business service providers. When your business gets big enough, then you can choose to outsource many parts of your business. You don’t have to do it until then.
Granted, some client-getting activities have costs. An example is if you decide to attend industry networking events that charge entrance fees. Even then, these fees are usually affordable. And you can always put off doing them until you start making some money.
3. You get paid way faster.
Here’s what experts who push other online business revenue models don’t tell you: it can take months, even years, to recoup your investment and start making a profit.
That’s because the product development phase for other online business ideas takes a long time. And then, it takes more time to reach prospects and even more time to convert them into paying customers.
Just ask anyone who’s tried to create and sell an online course! They lock themselves in their rooms for months, crafting a masterpiece of a course. Then they take a month more to create their course site. Add to that the time it takes to set up a shopping cart, a sales page, Facebook ads—an entire sales funnel.
By the time they switch their businesses on, it could be close to a year. And then they aren’t even sure if they’ll make enough sales to make it all worthwhile.
Compare that to selling one-on-one services. Once you get a client, you get paid even before you provide the service. (If not paid in full, then at least get a partial payment before you start the work.)
So if you’re looking for a way to generate income fast, there’s no question which business model is the best choice.Click to Tweet5 good reasons why one-on-one services are the best way to get started with an online business.
4. You become an expert in marketing to your audience.
There’s nothing like working with clients one-on-one for giving you an in-depth understanding of your market. You hear first-hand what keeps them awake at night. You know the exact language they use to describe their fears, their problems, and their desires. You know what trips them up and what keeps them from getting the results they want.
When I was doing one-on-one client work, I got to the point where I could predict what my clients were going to ask—even before they hopped on a call with me.
Having this intimate knowledge and understanding of your clients means you can communicate with them more effectively. It makes you The Expert in talking to your prospects and marketing your services. Even if you’re not an expert in marketing per se, you are an expert in your specific slice of the market.
And so when the time comes for you to sell higher-priced packages, you know exactly what to offer that’s easy for your perfect clients to say YES to.
Which brings us to the next reason one-on-one services is a great online business idea even for absolute beginners.
5. You learn how to create one-to-many products that sell like hotcakes.
Being a one-on-one service provider sets you up for success if or when you pursue one-to-many online business models because your clients will show you what to teach and how.
Let’s face it, if you’re just starting out, you’d be guessing at what to put in the course because you’ve never done it with anybody before. That’s why there are so many online courses out there that aren’t useful, even if they’re made by experts in the field. I have purchased some of them. They’re a jumbled mess!
And it doesn’t matter if you’ve been teaching the same topic offline, face-to-face, for years. Teaching it online—when you don’t get real-time feedback from your learners and can adjust quickly—just is not the same!
But when you serve one-on-one clients consistently over and over again, eventually, you’ll know exactly what they need and in what order. Then you can create the most incredible, game-changing program from that place.
You’re going to have every resource, every tool, and every question answered. You can then put out some of the best content the internet has ever seen!
You start to make a name for yourself. You have the case studies and testimonials to prove that you can deliver on the results you promise.
… And that’s how you create programs that sell themselves.Click to DownloadDiscover the Proven Plan To Get Clients And Create A Consistent Income With Your Online Business
Take the Hard Way or the Easier Way? It’s Your Choice.
You can start the hard way by selling digital products and online courses. That’s totally your decision.
But if you’re one of those people I’ve seen out there who are trying to create courses and selling them—and not earning anything—then one-on-one services is an easier online business model for you to follow.
It may seem like a longer and slower process, but I’m telling you, since starting out as a coach online in 2009, I’ve seen business owners jump to making $10K a month very quickly with the right strategy, the willingness to learn and dive in, serve their clients in a phenomenal way, and learn a little bit of marketing at a time.
Little by little, they make incredible things happen.
These are all the reasons why I’m a mega-fan of one-on-one services and why I believe it can change your business and the trajectory of your business forever—and still help you eventually create successful online courses and digital programs.
A one-on-one, service-based online business is the fastest way for you to make the biggest impact on people’s lives and to replace or supplement your income.
Where to go from here
In the next article in the series, I’ll show you how to come up with your first offer.
In Part 3, you’ll learn how to go about getting clients.
And in Part 4, you’ll discover the key to creating long-term success in your business.My Personal Recommendation for YouStarting and Growing an Online, Service-Based Business to Six Figures and Beyond