Almost 10 years ago, Brian Clark of Copyblogger fame launched an internet marketing program called Teaching Sells.
I was still a teenager at the time and recall that I couldn’t justify the cost – I think it was around $297 a month for three months – but I did pick up every free PDF that Brian gave away to promote it.
A large portion of the training was focused on an SEO blogger named Aaron Wall, who had turned his blog readers into raving fans paying him $50 to $100 per month for access to his private forum on the same topic.
To this day Aaron still makes an estimated $50,000/m from the forum.
Though I never got full access to the Teaching Sells course, the premise was clear: Earn the trust of your audience by giving away most of your knowledge for free, and then charge for it all to be packaged nicely in one place, often with additional insights.
It’s a formula that worked very well 10 years ago, and still works incredibly well today.
While you may doubt your own ability to teach something of value to others, the success stories we have to share today could just change your mind.
The $3M/Year Solution to Professional Marketers’ Problems
I’ve been building websites for 11 years now and if there is one concept that has been drilled into me from day one it’s this: Build a list.
Collect the email addresses of people who visit your website so you can share content with them on a regular basis and continue to drive traffic back to your site.
Some of the most popular solutions for building and managing your email list include MailChimp, Aweber and ConvertKit.
There’s also a more “serious” player in town, called Infusionsoft.
The things you can do with Infusionsoft – like segmenting your audience based on those who only watched 20% of a video you sent – are typically aimed at full-time marketers who want to squeeze every last penny from their promotions.
The downside to Infusionsoft’s unparalleled options is that it’s incredibly difficult to use.
After you join the service you literally have to go through hours of one-on-one training with a staff member just to learn how to do things that are intuitive in other platforms.
It may surprise you that a SaaS tool with such a steep learning curve has tens of thousands of active customers, but keep in mind that if there’s more revenue to be made from an email list, Infusionsoft users are getting their money’s worth.
The company was founded in 2001 by brothers Scott and Eric Martineau and Clate Mask.
Brad, another Martineau sibling, not only saw how well Infusionsoft was doing but also saw the struggles that many customers were having.
After having recently been laid off, he started his own company called SixthDivision.com, aimed at helping people get the most out of the software.
With no fewer than five former Infusionsoft employees on-board, they were well poised to follow the premise of Teaching Sells: Offer insights on how to do something that people (typically) can’t find elsewhere.
Today, companies around the world pay up to $12,000 for a two-day coaching session at the companies head office.
Other services they offer, starting with the cheapest first, include:
- Premier membership (mostly ‘tagging’ tools for Infusionsoft): $97/m
- The Academy step-by-step training: $2,997
- The Mini-Makeover half day custom implementation: $4,497
- The Makeover two day custom implementation: $11,997
- The Elite 100 on-going dedicated coaching: $19,997/year
In an interview with Mixergy, Brad says the company is generating more than $3M per year in revenue, the majority of which is profit.
Brad didn’t have to go and create some of the world’s most complex email marketing software in order to build a successful business. He simply helped people learn how to use what was already out there.
As you’ll learn from our following examples, there’s a lot of money to be made doing the same not only for software, but in almost every field imaginable.
$13,000 in eBook Sales in Just 3 Days
If you haven’t heard of Sketchup before, it’s best described as 3D modelling software you can use to design your next DIY project, your dream kitchen, or even the new mall for a city.
As with most technical software, there’s a learning curve to get the most out of it, and Matt Donley saw an opportunity to capitalise on that.
Initially planned as a side project, he created MasterSketchup.com
to teach people how to use the program. Matt had no idea that he would soon be able to quit his job as a carpenter and work on the website full-time.
Similar to Brad who taught Infusionsoft, Matt found a popular piece of software that people were struggling to use and gave away free advice on how to get started with it.
After initially making money with Google AdSense, Matt created an eBook which was designed to help users maximise their Sketchup abilities. There was evidently demand for this as Matt made over $13,000 in eBook sales within the first three days of launch.
Ted Forbes Teaches Photography to 260,000 Subscribers
You may have noticed on the Gaps.com homepage that there’s a testimonial from a man named Ted Forbes.
A few years ago I had a chat with Ted on Skype and gave him some advice on the projects he was working on. Most notably about how to grow an audience around what he loves: Photography.
Not long after, Ted sent me a very kind email, which I have permission to share.
Of course, I don’t take any credit for Ted’s success. As far as I recall, I simply reminded him of the massive potential there is online, and to stay focused on the project he’s most passionate about.
It turns out that passion was teaching people about all aspects of photography.
Today his YouTube subscriber count sits at 260,000, which is 20,000 higher than just a month ago.
If you’re interested in photography, there isn’t a channel I would recommend more.
Teaching Excel Generates $1M Per Year for this Webmaster
Our next case study started as a personal blog, but after finding a gap in the market and a hungry audience to go with it, that personal blog now consistently generates 7-figures per year, helping people to learn the ins and outs of Microsoft Excel.
As a business analyst, founder Purna previously got to know the workings and frustrations of Excel on a daily basis.
After ‘mastering’ the platform through books, online articles and watching others work, he shared every little tip and trick he was learning on his blog, Chandoo.org.
After initially launching a 50 page PDF teaching Excel formulas priced at just $5, the amount of content on the site has grown considerably and the current key to Purna’s success is his program, Excel School.
It includes a combination of Excel video lessons, workbooks and online classes. To access the course, students are paying from $97 for the basic package, up to $247 for full access.
Every single month up to 100 new students are going through his training, helping to bring his total income to six-figures each month.
His site, aptly named WatchMeCode.net, offers his students access to various eBooks, industry interviews and follow-along videos.
He offers 189 screencasts at a price of $19 per month or has an “all access membership” with additional interviews and downloads for $197 per year.
While the $35,000 per year he’s making is smaller than some other examples here, you really can’t put a price on getting to do what you love full-time.
Over $2M in Revenue Teaching Evernote
Brett Kelly first began using Evernote to store various documents – from letting arrangements to family photographs – online. Thanks to Evernote, he had years worth of access to all of his important information on his mobile, tablet or PC.
Brett was surprised when he realised that every brand new user of Evernote is greeted with a blank screen after installation, so he decided to do something about it.
He says, “I made the manual that should have come with Evernote.”
He decided to share his own story of how he was using and benefiting from Evernote and created a program called Evernote Essentials to act as a guide for fellow users.
In the first two days of launching Evernote Essentials, Brett generated over $10,000 in revenue.
With a basic plan priced at $29 and a premium plan at $99, Brett has since attracted over 75,000 customers to his training.
If we’re extremely conservative and assume every customer chose the cheapest plan, that alone is over $2 million in sales.
As a funny titbit, the course was so popular that Evernote themselves asked him to write some of their documentation.
The Site for Librarians Which Made $2,000 in its First Month
Jocelyn Sams is a librarian who had been tasked with creating lesson plans that adhered to specific American education standards.
After struggling to find resources to help her, Jocelyn put the work in herself and began to share her lesson plans with others.
The end result, a full-fledged resource for school librarians at ElementaryLibrarian.com, generated $2,000 in sales in its very first month.
With all due respect, Elementary Librarian is a very simple website, showing that if you have value to offer, your design or platform does not need to be complex.
Rather than librarians spending their time creating lesson plans themselves, Jocelyn provides a full year’s worth of pre-planned lessons which adhere to the required US education standards.
Members have the option to subscribe for $49 per month or pay $439 for the year. Two years after launching, the site now reaches around 30,000 visitors per month.
An impressive number when you remember it’s only targeting librarians.
The ACT Prep Company: $4.4m in Revenue and #241 on the Inc 5,000
Being English, I was not too familiar with the ACT but it seems they are similar to what we call SAT’s in Europe.
One company who knows them better than anyone else are MasteryPrep.com. They help students to increase their ACT scores through the use of online resources, practice exams and workbooks.
Generating hundreds of thousands of dollars per month, they’ve quickly grown to be one of the biggest companies in the space.
The understanding of what it takes to score higher on these exams has provided a business that not only helps students and teachers alike, but also generates incredible revenue.
While other examples we’ve shared are typically built my individuals or small teams, I wanted to share this example to show that things don’t have to stay that way.
MasteryPrep has quickly grown into a huge company with published books and created connections with schools where their experts go into to classroom to help students with their “offline bootcamp”.
The Coaching Site Reaching 400,000 Landlords Per Month
In 2013 Lucas Hall bought his first rental property and started documenting what he was learning as a first-time landlord. He noted down the steps he was taking with the intention of improving his processes as he went.
This eventually led to the creation of Landlordology.com.
The site was later acquired, no doubt earning Lucas a nice pay day, and he is still tasked with the opportunity to market and grow the site.
He found that by writing great content for others to follow, the number of visitors to his site continued to gradually increase. In fact 97% of his traffic was completely organic.
As he said in an interview,
“I was competing with some of the largest companies out there, even legal websites that were giving legitimate legal advice. I wasn’t a lawyer or an attorney. I was just a landlord sharing my experiences, but people loved it.”
By focusing on information which was missing from the resources already out there – namely up to date state laws and regulations – the site has since become the go-to resource online for landlords, reaching almost 450,000 monthly visitors.
Deanna Jump Made Over $1M Creating Lesson Plans for Teachers
For many teachers, creating lesson plans is something they have to do in their own time. It’s no surprise then that a resource providing ready-made plans for others to use has grown to become extremely popular.
TeachersPayTeachers.com was set up in 2006 to allow teachers to sell their lesson plans to others, saving the buyers both time and effort.
Typical lesson plans hover around the $4 mark, but some go up as far as $499.
Deanna Jump is one such teacher who began sharing her lesson plans on the site. In her first year, she made around $300. As the site (and Deanna’s lessons) grew in popularity however, her sales skyrocketed and in the following year she generated over $1,000,000.
Deanna now has over 66,000 teachers following her on the site. To put that into perspective, most of the ‘featured’ teachers on the site have less than 1,000 followers.
On the back of her success she went on to create her own site at DeannaJump.com. The site showcases classroom designs and activity suggestions, whilst also selling bundles of lesson plans.
With her personal site reaching up to 45,000 visitors per month it’s impressive to see what she was able to do thanks to a single platform.
The Former Architect Making $1,000/m Giving Advice for the LEED Exam
If you follow a few marketing blogs online then you may very well know the story of Pat Flynn and his website, the Green Exam Academy.
Pat passed the LEED exam after graduating with a B.A. in Architecture from the University of California Berkeley.
He created the niche site to help others who were going through the same struggles as he was and shared what worked for him in terms of study guides and practice exams.
Though revenues vary month to month, Pat is very open about his income figures. In December of 2016 the site made $930.12. In December of the year prior, Green Exam Academy pulled in $1,114.
December numbers are often low for Pat, with November 2016 revenues being $500 higher than December and November 2015 revenues being $766 higher than the following month.
The Best-Selling Author Who Asked to be Taught
If a New York Times best-selling author talks about a product he would buy if it existed, there’s probably a good gap in the market to take advantage of.
That’s what happened when Joseph Michael, a self-confessed “tech-geek kind of guy”, read an article by author Michael Hyatt.
A reader had commented on their struggles using the word-processing tool Scrivener, which Michael had talked about, and Michael replied “If there was a course on Scrivener, I would buy it today!”
Struggling with Scrivener himself and trying to learn everything about the software, Joseph created the info-product LearnScrivenerFast.com.
Pricing options range from $127 to $297 to get access to the training.
It turns out that Michael did indeed buy the product, as you’ll see from his testimonial on the sales page.
Reaching 90,000 Visitors Per Month Teaching…AirBnB?
Software and exams aside, the potential angles you can take with this ‘teaching sells’ model are virtually limitless.
That’s proven by our next example, which reaches 90,000 visitors per month helping landlords get the most out of AirBnB.
The concept behind LearnAirbnb.com is really smart, especially with the ever changing regulations by states and cities that hosts need to keep on top of.
As you likely know, Airbnb is a popular home and apartment rental service around the world. It’s currently available in over 190 cities and is a practical way for people to earn money on their extra living space.
LearnAirbnb founders, Jim Breeze and Symon He, saw an opportunity to educate hosts on how to get the most out of the revenue source.
Although the niche here is laser targeted, they’re surprisingly not the only resource for this type of information.
AirbnbSecrets.com is another site offering a course on Airbnb hosting and have created a $197 training course which they advertise to their 20,000 monthly visitors.
New to Gaps? This is half the story…
For every success story we feature, we highlight gaps in the market which reveal additional opportunities to be successful. Many are possible by simply changing the industry (or location) to focus on while others look at how to profit from other traffic sources or monetisation options.
While other Gaps strategy reports focus on other niches to enter, we’re not going to make any concrete suggestions here. If you don’t have knowledge about a specific industry or any interest to learn more about it, you aren’t likely going to build much of a resource that visitors can get value from.
That being said, we do have a few ‘gaps in the market’ that we think someone could great a great resource for, so grab our free report if you’re interested in learning more.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to build some full-fledged “ultimate resource” and go at this full-time.
The great thing about this opportunity is that it’s something you can build up slowly on the side while gradually adding more content and getting more traffic from search.
A respectable side-income is more than attainable for the average person with some insights to share (or the inclination to go and learn things they don’t already know).
If you would like how to know how we would tackle this Teaching Sells opportunity, along with a few Gaps we think others could capitalise, then check them out in our free report.
P.S. Clicking the heart button below to lets us know what types of success stories and opportunities you would like to see more of. Thank you for reading!674