Monetization

How I went from $0 to $22,000 by testing my business idea

After establishing my online business with 1:1 coaching, I was looking for a way to scale and serve more people at once.

So I created a 10-week online group program called Food2bFit. I planned to share information through a web portal and do a live Q&A on a weekly group call.



I spent time and money on this logo, but didn’t
get feedback before launching this program. Result: 0 sign-ups

I went through all the steps for a launch: I created a sales page, planned an elaborate 5-day challenge, created content for a 60-minute webinar, and crafted a 5-day email sales funnel.

After over 150 hours of work — lots of production, creation, and reworking of my sales page, launch emails, and more — I launched my product on a live webinar. I expected many people to purchase it right there as I was announcing this amazing (I thought) program idea!

I waited.

I waited more.

I kept waiting.

Not one person purchased it. Worse, over the next week, as I sent out emails, still not one person bought it.

Here’s the most confusing thing — I didn’t know what went wrong!

I thought I was not persuasive enough on my sales page. So I had some expert copywriters look at it, but all of them said the copywriting was actually good.

I thought my webinar didn’t go well, but people emailed me and told me they got invaluable advice from it.

I thought the people who were on my list weren’t the right people, but over time, those very same people who didn’t buy that program went on to buy another program from me and become my most valuable and involved students.

In essence, I blamed everything… but I didn’t consider my lack of understanding what my customer wanted.

Four months later, after comprehensive research to figure out what my customer would actually purchase, I relaunched the idea as Spice Yourself Skinny.



My new product generated almost $22K (and I spent $0 on my logo)

That launch tripled my average monthly income that month, and I was able to serve 10x as many customers per month as I did before.



With Food2bFit, I launched to the sound of crickets and thought I had a failed launch. Now I see it was a test and not a failure (I just didn’t know it back then!).

I learned from that first launch. I had to understand why no one bought — and taking the steps to figure that out taught me lessons that led to the success of my second launch.

Now I plan more tests when developing new products so that I can set realistic expectations for my product. And my launches meet or exceed those goals.

Today I’m going to show you the three you need to run before you try to sell anything. They are:

  1. Use your readers to determine your positioning for you
  2. Use social media to get instant feedback on your idea
  3. Host a webinar to pique buyers’ interest

Whether a test is successful or not, you’ll learn valuable lessons to incorporate into making your program amazing.

In fact, you will start to see every action you take as a “test” that helps you uncover information you can use in the future. Nothing is a one-dimensional “success” or “failure.”

So let’s get started.

Use your readers to determine your positioning for you

The blog posts, guest posts, and any other articles you write are a great way to test what your audience likes.

Some posts generate more interest — more comments, shares, traffic — than others. Those are ideas to turn into products and to use to refine your positioning.

For my Food2bFit launch that no one bought, I failed to do this. I didn’t look at any of my past articles to see if people were interested in the idea.

Instead, I felt like people “should” know which foods will help them lose weight. So I used that as the positioning for my program.

But clearly this didn’t compel people to sign up. So I needed to go back to the drawing board and figure out what “hook” would excite my followers and give them a reason to purchase my program.

I started by looking at the guest posts and blog posts I had written that had received a lot of positive response.

I had written articles about food, menu planning, emotional eating, spices for weight loss, recipes, and more. A post I wrote for Mind Body Green called “These 5 Spices Helped Me Lose 40 Pounds” went viral with 12,000 shares.



I had also been approached to talk about spices for weight loss for other media. Fox News produced an entire segment on spices for weight loss and Woman’s World magazine featured a whole spread on how spices helped me lose 40 pounds.

From all of this, I realized “spices for weight loss” had potential as the positioning for a program.

It’s easy to use articles you write to find which topics are most compelling to your audience.

As you blog and guest post, keep track of how many comments, shares, and traffic each article gets.

Once you identify the most popular topics for your audience, think of what programs you could create around those topics. What would best satisfy your readers’ interests and burning desires? What positioning can you use that will make your program different and better than others out there?

Use social media to get instant feedback on your idea

You can also leverage social media to get more interactive and faster feedback.

Simply write a post on Facebook describing the topic and ask if others are interested. Or weave the topic into a story-based or tip-based post.

You can also ask if people are interested in your idea in a Facebook group with your ideal buyers in it. I did this to test the spices idea.

I asked people in one group if they would be interested if I created a workshop about “spices for weight loss.”



Notice how I followed up on the first comment so that I could understand why people were struggling and what they wanted. I used this feedback to write my marketing emails and sales page for my program.

With just one Facebook post, I proved that this idea was popular. People replied quickly, and this post got way more likes and comments than other posts I had made. So I posted more questions to dig deeper into what people wanted. I asked:

  • What do you NEED most for me to teach you or give you? (I listed several options for people to choose from) Anything else?
  • What would be a helpful takeaway so you could start using spices and losing weight right away? (again, I listed some ideas)

I used this feedback to begin planning what I would offer in my program.

With just a few simple Facebook posts, I had confidence that this idea had a lot of potential. And I had clear direction on what people wanted the program to include.

Here’s how you can use social media to get feedback on your product idea.

  1. Find a Facebook group, reddit group, or other online community where your target audience hangs out. Post your idea or headline/title with a description and ask if others would be interested in it. Don’t be afraid. It’s better to get 0 comments now than to put in the work creating a whole program that nobody buys. With every post, you will learn more.
  2. See how people respond. Are they quickly responding? Posting more comments than you usually get? And are those comments filled with excitement and interest, such as “I am in!” or “Yes” or “Tell me more”?
  3. If people show interest, decide if you want to test other ideas, too. Start digging deeper like I did to get feedback on what to include in the program.
  4. If people do not show interest, then change the wording, angle, or concept and post something new.

Host a webinar to pique buyers’ interest

Another mistake I made when I launched Food2BFit was that I didn’t do any videos or webinars about it before I launched.

I did do a webinar WHEN I launched it, and it turned out to be great — but no one actually bought the program afterward.

So when I launched my Spice Yourself Skinny product, I decided to test if people were engaged through videos.

I did a series of 10 1-minute videos about the weight-loss benefits of different spices. I posted them on my MasalaBody Facebook page and used them in Facebook ads.

My first video was shared 4 times, which is 4 times more than pretty much any of my other posts. Most of the videos also received very interested comments and 25+ likes, quite a bit more than other posts I made at the time.



This 1-minute video about the weight-loss benefits of cinnamon was shared dozens of times.

When people started taking my advice immediately, using it, and posting their results, I knew I had a winner.

To further test if an idea would resonate with your audience, you can create a webinar, teleclass, or short videos about the topic you are considering for your product.

  1. Identify a topic of interest by using tests 1 and 2 above. Then decide if you want to create a webinar, teleclass, or short video. A webinar or teleclass should be 40-60 minutes and provide a lot of value, plus include time for Q&A at the end. A video can be a series of short videos like I did, or just one or two so that you can get feedback.
  2. See how many people sign up, attend, and interact or comment during or after your event. Were people more excited about this than other things you’ve done in the past? If it’s your first time doing something like this, you can still get a sense of if people are interested based on the engagement you get.
  3. If your idea doesn’t get any attention, try again with a new spin or a different idea.
  4. If your idea does get attention, move forward with it.

Just do it: Launch!

The first time I launched, I had 0 sign ups and made $0. But going through that first failed launch helped me make my second launch so successful. I had to figure out what went wrong and how to make it better.

The tests above helped me find an idea for a program that people were eager to buy. When I launched “Spice Yourself Skinny,” 91 people signed up, adding up to a total of $21,568.



Total revenue: more than $21K!

The launch itself is the ultimate test. During my launch, I discovered even more new insights that I could only learn by doing:

  • When I didn’t get the sales I expected, I completed a pricing comparison (which I should have done before). I found that everyone else in the market was charging 1/3 of what I was charging. No wonder sales weren’t as I’d expected.
  • Next time I may add different price levels to provide more flexibility, or I may position some of the program differently to give it even a higher perceived value.

Each time I launch, I continue to look at it as a test, so that I can keep getting better and better and helping more women.

With this launch, I tripled the number of people I could directly serve. I’ve helped these women lose 3 to 15 pounds in just weeks and improve their bodies after years of struggling to lose weight.





Even better, I have transformed their lifestyles so they are healthier, and I’ve shown them how they can fit healthy cooking and eating into their lives and love it.






I want to help you out, too.

Using the three strategies above, what is one way you can test your next idea for a new product or program? Tell me in the comments below, and I’ll give you my feedback.

There Are 24 Comments

Join The Conversation

Hi Nagina,

Thanks for this great post.

Strategy #2 – Social media: YES! I highly recommend social media indeed for quick feedback as you mention in this strategy, too. The audience might not be the buying one but as you say, but it’s so easy to like/comment there that it’s perfect way to test a course name or a headline or a vague idea. And the fans LOVES to participate.

Strategy #3 – Webinar: never thought about this one! It’s an awesome idea! I have a short course about “Essential French for travelling in France” to launch this fall and I’ll use this technique to check the format and length. The interest is validated (I surveyed my audience) but the best format is still unclear.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks! You’re a gem.

Géraldine

PS: I downloaded your recipe guide and am planning to cook them. I already translated the ingredients in French, and have yet to find an Indian food shop in my city. :)

Thank you so much Geraldine! I so appreciate your comment and I’m so happy you downloaded my free recipe book!

I love the insight – JUST LAUNCH!!

Trying to predict sales and strategy ahead of time is very useful. But nothing compares to actually launching and seeing the results, for better or worse. Launching, coupled with treating the launch as a test, is how I just approached my first launch and it made it way less scary. It doesn’t have to be perfect (yet)!

Thanks for being candid about success and failure. It’s so easy to point out when we are doing awesome and shrink away when we aren’t, and I really appreciate your honesty.

All the best to you and your upcoming ventures!

Genevieve

Genevieve,

Thank you so much for your comment. I am so happy I did launch, even though the first time I didn’t have anyone join! I was able to know sooner rather than later that something needed to be fixed, so I could move forward.

Nagina, this is the best story I have read. Failure lead to success if you keep going.
I have a lot to learn from you. Finding what people want is the key!
Thank you!

Good luck in all that you are doing!

Neelam

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of trying to get your customers to buy what they NEED rather than what they WANT. But if you just ask them what they want, you can give them what they need packaged as what they want. Thank you for that reminder!
And, as someone who has been part of your latest launch, I must say you’ve been super successful in your re-messaging. My husband is slightly confused about why I’m suddenly putting turmeric and pepper on everything, but I’m loving it.

Jessica, so true!! It is so easy to offer people what they NEED and not even realize that’s what you are doing! It is so critical to give people what they WANT followed up by what they NEED in the program!

Thank you so much for following my current launch and for your commment! Haha-turmeric & black pepper are excellent, as you know, together to block fat from forming on our body! Your husband will realize why soon 😉

Nagina, I understood the importance of going ahead with a launch after reading your article. I had a question around completion rates. Are you able to track them. I feel hesitant to put out a product that people may find difficult to complete. Am sure that is the case for weight-loss a lot more than it is for conflict-resolution (my area). Will appreciate any insights from you. Thank you.

Diana Tower

Hi Nagina,
This is a fantastic post! I love how your focus is on what your audience WANTS, rather than what they should want or NEED. Focusing on their big wants is a huge win!

As for my business and which strategy I can use; I just recently pivoted my audience and am back in the early days of research, connecting and immersion, so for me, the most interesting strategy is #1.

This is the quickest and easiest way to gauge interest and also tease out possible immersion interviews. This works for both product validation as well as niche/business idea validation. I also love how you didn’t settle for what people posted on Facebook either. You dug deeper, asked why and got to the juicy center. Love it! *High fives*.

I also love the idea about hosting a webinar too. A totally free, no pitch, high value “give” fest. That sounds like a great way to validate your idea. I’ve made a note of it in my notebook.

Congratulations on the success of “Spice Yourself Skinny”, and cheers to the new mentality, “It’s only a test”.

Side note: I’m a part of your FB community and I have to say that adding spices to my food has been awesome. My personal favourite…Turmeric. Who knew it was so delicious?!

Thanks for spicing things up for us Nagina.

Hugs and cinnamon hearts,
Diana

This is gold Nagina. I will call or message them one on one or at least get some feedback like your Facebook group. I don’t have enough volume to get a group going but this is definitely useful insight.

Wow Nagina, Super insightful post! Amazing how you dove into what resonated with your readers. So much to be learned from this post. I think the biggest take away is we think we have to have this all inclusive program to solve a problem. We sometimes overlook the fact that people want easier, less complicated wins. I bet when you first thought of creating a healthy/weight loss program, you wouldn’t have imagined that “spice” was going to be what attracted them in. As I read this I had several light bulb moments, I am thinking differently of possible ways to connect to my audience. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Thank you for being so transparent about your first launch Nagina! It’s refreshing to hear even top performers don’t always start with a “6-figure launch” right out of the gate – and then giving us tips to learn from your experience.

I’m going to try the webinar – I feel great talking to people in person or an over email about my business / products, but for some reason live technology intimates me (I have an irrational fear I’ll break something… live). So, I’ll go in the direction of my fear to conquer it!

shirag shemmassian

Incredible, Nagina–thanks a lot for sharing this story. Just two weeks ago, I launched a group coaching program with another expert in my field (college admissions), focusing on step-by-step guidance for high school students and parents for every semester of high school. Parents were asking both of us tons of questions about what to do/not do and when, so we figured we should create a program around that.

Fast forward two weeks, and we’ve received exactly 1 sale. I’m really disappointed about this, and know I need to do more customer research, revisit my sales copy, etc. to establish better positioning, but I’ve been feeling stuck on where to begin.

Your article, therefore, came exactly at the right time. Like Camille mentioned, it’s comforting to know that even superstars like you go through these growing pains. What separates you, however, is how hard you work to rectify difficulties AND share your vulnerabilities and struggles to support all of us ZTLers.

I will definitely pursue your suggestions from this article to make my group coaching program a success. Thank you so much, Nagina! Hope to meet you in person soon.

Nagina, I’m not at a point where I’m creating a product yet, but I will use the first strategy to ask my audience what they want. I am working right now on connecting with my audience to find out more about them via email, but I will also use your advice to ask via social media too. I hope to employ all 3 strategies, but that one will be first. I also really hope to remember that it is a test and I will need to learn by doing.
Thanks for sharing this with us!

Zach shelin

Nagina,

I’m just getting started and working on building a product to help jaded millennials cut the grunt work out of their job and level up their careers. I’ve been struggling to find more places to get direct feedback from my target audience, but with your suggestions I’ll look into floating some of my ideas on millennial groups on LinkedIn and career groups on Facebook.

Parulmacdonald

Thanks for such a helpful ‘behind the scenes’ article. I have so many topics to write about around publishing, and I think using posts to work out where the demand is, and then webinars to give back and get feedback will be my plan!

Wow! Nagina, this is awesome. Sometimes I write on other random topics that get big shares but I don’t know how to build anything around them.

I once wrote an article on “What makes nurses cry” and it was phenomenal. But how does one do anything around such?

Eridon Elshani

Hi, Nagina, this is very helpful. I think I have an idea to help teenagers like me to face problems, stress, depression, for young entrepreneus like me how to manage school and how to deal with it etc. So I think I should post on social media for it, maybe there’s someone who’s facing these problems, and is interested.

Hi Nagina.

Great article. Really well written and full of killer information. I would love to get your insight on a decision I’m struggling to make.

I’ve written a detailed 5000 word article explaining how I gained 10lbs of muscle while working a physical labor job. (This, as you probably know, is difficult to do for guys who are naturally skinny like me.)

I think it’s a great article, but I’m undecided on how to put it out there.

Option 1: I could see if a big blog wants to post it and see what results come back.

Option 2: I could post it and promote it myself.

I like option 2, because I can target the audience more effectively with Facebook etc. Also, the article remains my property.

However, option 1 would get it out to a much bigger audience much faster.

Would love to know what you would do.

Thanks again for a great article.

Hey Great post! I implemented this the other day and got some interesting feedback:

very few likes on the post-is this assuming that it is not an effective idea? or perhaps it just needs pitched a different way? The groups I posted in typically only get around 5 likes a piece anyway, so i’m assuming the members are not that active.

But on one of the groups I posted, I had some great feedback about specific things they wanted to see addressed. It would be the same thing as my product, but approached in a different way (I teach a new language, they wanted to know how to use this in a business setting instead of just learning basic rules). What would you say would be a good way to approach this?

Thanks for writing this, Nagina! I really liked the tips about doing several 1 minute as a test. It seems like you can get some of the benefits of the webinar, but with the ability to distribute the work out. Thank you!

Awesome story Nagina. Goes right along with what I’m learning in Module 2 of ZTL.

I want to create a Health and happiness product. My initial idea is called “wake up call”, a transformational program designed for resistant people to make life change, before it’s too late. I emailed some blog owners this morning. One issue is they either run happiness blogs or health blogs, but not really both. I’ve posted on Reddit and quota, asking for people to share their obstacles on getting healthier and happier. I’m curious if you have other ideas about validating.

I appreciate your time. Chris

I’m not at a point where I’m creating a product yet, but I will use the first strategy to ask my audience what they want. I am working right now on connecting with my audience to find out more about them via email, but I will also use your advice to ask via social media too. I hope to employ all 3 strategies, but that one will be first. I also really hope to remember that it is a test and I will need to learn by doing.

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