This is the first article in the series leading up to the re-release of Minimalist Business on June 15th. The second part will be on how I was able to make $2,300 in one day last month by supporting work that matters.
We all know that the gatekeepers are no longer in power.
The modern creator doesn’t need to suck up to a publisher, distributor, or other person who claims to have power in order to bring their message to the world. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, in an article that’s become quite popular on Far Beyond The Stars:the obsolescence of gatekeepers.
In that article, I didn’t answer the most important question…
How to bypass the gatekeepers entirely.
The answer is simple and yet I believe completely revolutionary to people who haven’t put it into play already: you need to pay your fans to support you.
Kevin Kelly said this first, you only need 1000 fans to make a living as an artist. This much is true due to The Long Tail, but the reality of how those people can support you hasn’t quite slipped in to the mainstream consciousness.
A number of remarkable individuals are using this pay-your-supporters to make quite a living. Creators such as Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, and a small legion of others (and well, me) are making a killing paying their supporters for their support.
Yet, so many people in the world ignore the possibilities.
I hope this article will bring their successes to great light, and hopefully inspire you to distribute your work using the pay-your-supporters model.
If you’re already making a living as an affiliate marketing rockstar, you’re welcome to skip this article, as you already know this stuff. If you’re not making cash selling products that you believe in, bookmark this article, so you can come back to it as you build your minimalist business.
MINIMALIST BUSINESS AFFILIATE MARKETING: THE BASICS
What you need as a creator to succeed at paying your fans.
1. Create a product around work that matters.
The first step is the hardest part. You need to create work that will inspire people. This can be a digital indie rock album that you made in your basement with a drum machine, or an amazing e-book that teaches people how to take control of their financial situation. The important part is that it has to fulfill a specific need that people on the internet are searching for. I did this with The Art of Being Minimalist, and you can as well with your own work.
2. Digital distribution.
Make the right choice, and don’t go with physical media. Paper, plastic and shipping cost money, and any business that is built around these things is eating up much of their profit –the profit you need to pay your supporters. The right choice is using digital distribution to send copies of your work to people at no cost to you or your buyer. How do you do this? I recommend E-Junkie.
3. Teach your fans how they can support you.
Your fans won’t automatically know how to sell a product using affiliate marketing techniques –believe it or not affiliate marketing is still pretty unknown to most people,– so you have to teach them how to support you. The best way I’ve found to do this is make some money supporting someone else’s work, and use that as case-study to inspire them to support you. For instance, last month I made $2,300+ affiliate marketing for one specific work that matters, which as I mentioned earlier in the article, I’ll deal with in the next post. Demonstrate to your fans it can be done (and make some money in the process), and they will support your work.
4. Pay your fans to support you.
Offer your fans no less than a 50% commission to support your work (some argue that you should offer even more, like 65%-76%.) The easiest way to do this is through E-junkie, a simple no-nonsense affiliate marketing system which costs only $5 a month to sign up for. If you don’t already have a large base of fans that will come out and support, you’ll need to email a few loyal followers and tell them about the opportunity. Be courteous while emailing. Explain how you’ve made money doing the same thing that you’d like them to do for you if they aren’t already familiar with affiliate marketing of digital media.
Why you can successfully pay your fans to support you.
Why isn’t everyone doing this? What’s the catch?
People are used to ‘the catch’, because we’re coming out of a television-based system dominated by gatekeepers — you know, the 25 minute infomercials that you see on TV with only three installments of 79.99 for the blender? That’s a catch.
As I explained above, gatekeepers are now obsolete, so they don’t have the power to manipulate people anymore.
There’s simply no downside to paying your fans to support you. All they have to do is drop a link from their blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other outlet to your work, and once a month they get a Paypal payment for any sales that they did that month.
Obviously it isn’t for everyone, and you shouldn’t force people to sell your product. Obviously people will related and/or much bigger networks will make money money than people who don’t have any authority with a group of people.
The important thing is, there’s no harm done if some of your fans don’t sell anything. It’s just a link, if you’re honest about why you’re supporting the work, selling is a positive experience for all.
In the digital world, it’s so important to compensate your fans who believe in your work. This creates a lasting community connection, and also helps people pay the bills.
PAYING YOUR FANS TO SUPPORT YOU: STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS.
Not all strategies are created equal. It’s important to explain to your fans just how to sell your work. Here’s some strategies that I’ve used to sell other people’s work that matters, and I hope they’ll help you.
1. Don’t sell work you don’t believe in.
No one likes skeezy internet marketers. We’ve all received emails from people we don’t know asking us to buy things we don’t need. Tell your fans that you’re not into that kind of marketing. Don’t spam people, don’t annoy people, don’t make people feel obligated to purchase from you. 80% of everyone who comes in contact with your message won’t purchase from you, and that’s okay. Not every product is for every person, it’s the differences that make the world beautiful.
2. Present the work in a way that helps people.
Have you noticed that whenever I affiliate for a product, I explain exactly how it helps people? The best way I’ve found to do this is to either write a review of how you benefitted from the work, or interview the author of the work on your media outlet (such as a blog or other internet venue.) If you ask the right questions, you can really help your audience receive value from the product that you’d like to sell them, without even asking them for money. If people see how the product will help them, they’ll be able to rationalize the purchase price.
3. Let people know that they can support you (as well as the artist you’re representing) by purchasing the work.
The final element of this whole equation is letting people know that they can help you by purchasing the work. People who know your fans are much more likely to purchase from them, if they know that half of the money is going to help their friend. It’s so much easier to buy from someone if you know it’ll help your friend pay the bills or escape from their day job.
Obviously there is more to it than this, because you have to create work that helps people, which is not an easy job. The point is that you can create a network which supports your work, and the first step to making it happen is knowing that you can.
I hope this article inspires you to start creating that network in order to begin paying your fans to support you.
I’ve been doing exactly what I described to pay myself a decent wage through my minimalist business for nearly six months now. Every month I have more income. This system works, for the people who learn to put it into play responsibly in order to bring their change to the world.
If this story helped you, I’d love if you could share it with your network. Retweet it or link from your blog to this story. Thank you.
In a few days I’ll be posting a brief story describing how I made $2,300 in one day, using the techniques that I described above, while supporting work that matters. Don’t miss the story. Sign up for free updates via EMAIL, RSS, or follow me on Twitter.