Making a profit from ‘Pothole Spotting’



No it’s not a sport from the Yorkshire Olympics, it’s about how to make money from spotting the mistake potholes that many of your readers or customers are going to fall into and solving those problems for them.

Years back I wrote a mini-course aimed primarily and writers called Blog your wage.

It was mostly about how to create a blog solely for the purpose of building a readership and subscriber base that you could market future products to.

I covered the very basics because the idea was ultimately intended to get people thinking for themselves, making their own mistakes, learning from them and moving forward. Having done this myself I knew that a lot of content writing and finding your own subject niche was quite a hit and miss affair in the early days until you realised what worked for you and your readers.

I sold quite a few copies and encourged my readers to contact me with their thoughts and experiences of using my system.

I pretty soon realized that a percentage of people just weren’t comfortable with doing their own research (or more accurately on trusting their own judgement) and were decidedly less comfortable making mistakes.

Personally, I learn by making mistakes so was quite shocked by how badly affected some people could be when thing went wrong. A botched blog installation could set them back weeks mentally, in terms of confidence.

(These were the days before Fantastico installed WordPress on your hosting on one click remember).

And of course it wasn’t their fault. At school we focus on the nine maths questions we get right and totally ignore why we got the other one wrong. At school mistakes equal failure. In the real world, mistakes teach us how to do it right the next time and are a stepping stone to success.

Anyway…So this segment of students on my course were freaking out because they didn’t have the confidence to either put up a blog or research the ways I’d pointed out of monetizing their blog. I told them exactly how to do it – the only thing they needed to do was to research a few basic things related to their own writing niches.

And I continued getting emails asking for more information once people hit a certain point in the course.

So I wrote two reports that covered in minute detail, and with step by step instructions the subjects where my readers hit their main sticking points. One was about basic SEO and the other was about researching competition in your niche.

And I started to make a regular income from these two pieces as more and more people came onto my course and hit the same pothole as the rest. (Obviously I hadn’t covered this as well as I could)

Soon I noticed another pothole, another logjam where my readers were getting stuck and my ‘help’ emails increased. These were from people who were having problems FTP-ing files up to their server. It took me a while to get my head round this when I first started do I can sympathise.

So I wrote a full Filezilla FTP tutorial (Filezilla is free software that allows you to upload files to your hosting account quickly and in bulk if you’re not sure) and by using screenshots and step by step instructions I came up with a self-contained tutorial on how to get your websites up onto your sever, create directories and basically the whole nine yards.

Predictably it sold well and continued to sell until FTP somehow seemed to become more accessible and generally easier.

All these are examples of me selling a significant number of reports (in downloadable PDF format) by spotting potential potholes that newcomer marketers could fall into and providing a solution.

Some of these I’ve offrered free to build my mailing list. I quickly realised that if someone wants a solution they’ll gladly swap their email address for it, and some have been paid-for products.

It’s not too hard to spot the potholes – here’s how to do it:

1. Don’t try to second guess anything,  just look at where you are hitting a logjam with your own blog or business.

2. Take note of the emails that come back from your readers, and try to spot any patterns.

3. But perhaps best of all, visit forums, boards and Facebook groups in your own niche and look at which questions are asked the most. Look at what people are asking for help with.

They’re your potholes. Solve those problems with your writing or products and you’ll have a ready-made marketplace

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