This guest post is by Jules Clancy of Stonesoup.
Ever dreamed of tasting chocolate for a living?
Well I’ve been lucky enough to live that dream, and while is was hard to beat as far as jobs go, it doesn’t hold a patch on blogging for dollars.
Last year, I quit my day job designing chocolate biscuit—cookies—for Australia’s most loved biscuit company because I knew it was holding me back from my dream of writing cookbooks and blogging professionally.
Twelve months on, I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am I made the leap. Waking up every day to do what I love—cook, take photographs, and write, is the biggest motivator ever. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m living this life.
My business is blossoming and I’ve learned a few things along the way. It will be a while before I start getting phone calls from my accountant asking if I’d robbed a bank, like Darren. I’m still on a huge learning curve but I wanted to share the six most important lessons I’ve learned so far.
6 lessons learned
1. People are willing to pay to learn new skills online but not for information
Think about your own online browsing and spending habits. With so much free information, there’s no need to pay. But learning new skills is a whole different situation. As Martyn Chamberlin wrote recently on ProBlogger, you need to teach, or your blog will die.
While my ecookbook sales have been okay, the response to my Virtual Cookery School, where people take cooking classes from the comfort of their own homes, has been way beyond my expectations.
2. Publishing a print book without a clear benefit statement and target market is a bad idea
The year before I left my job, I self-published a cookbook of my mum’s recipes. I knew it would appeal to some people, but it didn’t have a strong reason for being. While the thrill of becoming a published author was wonderful, having a stack of books in the garage isn’t a great outcome. Even though I have more than broken even, I’m really hesitant to jump into a print book again.
3. It’s a great idea to offer a super-premium product as an anchor
People aren’t rational when it comes to spending money. Having a premium product will make your standard offering seem much more affordable. And from my experience, you’ll still sell a few units of the premium product, which is a nice cash injection. For more on this I highly recommend reading Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.
4. Pricing is complex and cutting price isn’t necessarily going to drive sales.
When I launched my ecookbook last year for $37, I got quite a bit of feedback that the pricing was too high. So a few months later, I repackaged it and launched a premium video version for $77, the standard book still at $37, and individual chapters for $4.50 each. Surprisingly I sold more units of the standard book after that launch than I sold of the much cheaper individual chapters.
We’re all on a learning curve when it comes to pricing. Don’t be afraid to back yourself and charge for quality.
5. It’s much easier to sell people a subscription than a large one-off fee.
Since January, I’ve moved to a subscription-based model for my online cooking school. People can still pay for individual classes if they like, but most people opt for the $20/month membership. Making the membership brilliant value, with access to all the previous classes that have been run at the school, also helps. And the regular income is certainly a bonus.
6. Being a full-time blogger is the best fun.
I feel so blessed to be making a living doing what I love. Sure, it isn’t always easy, and there are times I’ve doubted my ability to make it work. But I keep asking myself, what’s the worst that can happen?
How about you? Any lessons you’d like to share from the business of blogging?
Jules Clancy is a qualified Food Scientist, the creator of The Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School. She blogs about her commitment to only cooking recipes with no more than five ingredients over at Stonesoup.