How Becoming a "Leading" Expert Results in Longevity Economy Success
Leaders don’t hesitate when a movement materializes. They lean into change and reap outsized rewards.
Back in 2005, I saw things shifting in a new direction.
I had just wound up my real estate business after a near-death experience. And I had resolved that I would start a new business that would allow me to not have clients and write more.
The blogging movement had been building steam for several years at that point, and I had been paying attention since around 2001. Plus, I had used blogs in my real estate business for SEO and lead generation, but it wasn’t what would be considered “proper” blogging.
It was interesting to see the practice shifting from a form of journaling to a commercial pursuit based on interest-based topics that could generate revenue. People recognized this as a way to “make money online” from writing.
I immediately saw that these early “pro bloggers” were trying to do what I had done with my email newsletter business seven years earlier. And they were making the same mistakes I made that led to my only business failure.
So, I registered a domain name in December, mapped out an initial strategy, and published my first post on January 9, 2006. Copyblogger was born.
The first three months were a ghost town as I dutifully published two lengthy articles per week. Finally, I found a way to break through with an innovative free report. Things took off from there to the point where other bloggers offered to write for Copyblogger for free to reach my audience by that fall.
And it went on this way for 18 months. It wasn’t until the fall of 2007 that I released Copyblogger’s first product, an online course that was its own startup company. But what happened before that was truly remarkable.
I intentionally took my time before trying to sell to my audience. For one thing, blogging was transitioning from its highly idealistic origins, and I came along and told writers they needed to sell products and services with their blogs (which later became known as content marketing). I needed their trust.
I was also figuring out what I wanted that first product to be. I knew generally what the audience wanted, but I wasn’t sure of the business model.
Anyway, the audience got impatient with me in the best possible way:
“Just take my credit card already!”
“Whatever you decide to sell, I’m buying it!”
“What’s taking you so long to sell?”
I remember one email from a reader in particular. He was actually distressed because he couldn’t figure out why I was delivering so much value without asking for anything in return.
Instead of people dreading the eventual pitch they would get after enjoying my free content, they wanted that pitch and were worried something was wrong because it hadn’t arrived. They were looking forward to the offer and the opportunity to buy from me, not dreading it.
That may be why my first course took Copyblogger from 0 to six figures in revenue in a week and seven figures by the end of the first year in business. And it didn’t stop there.
In 2008 I launched Copyblogger’s first WordPress product. In 2009, its first software as a service (SaaS) product. The result was the same — a new seven-figure business by the end of the first year in business for each.
And it kept going from there. Yes, my team and I created great products (also thanks to being able to observe the audience), but the work I did in those first 18 months set the stage for the next ten years of outsized success.
Am I telling you to wait 18 months before selling? No, that was a unique situation. What I’m telling you is this: what you do before you start to sell is more important than your skill at “selling.” And therein lies the power of creating and freely distributing leading expert content.
In short, I came out of nowhere to become a leader in a movement (blogging) thanks to ideas no one had heard before. Those new ideas made me a leader in a much larger movement (content marketing), which has since become a massive industry.
And that’s what put me in a position to develop a series of products and services without ever experiencing a failure. People were primed to buy, and the only question became, at what levels would they do so?
Let’s explore both aspects: priming for persuasion and making your case for higher conversion. These two topics comprise the two primary parts of the Leading Expert Persuasion Approach that we’ll explore in detail over the coming months.