Throughout this week we’re introducing the “what if?” content series.

The purpose of these will explore what could happen if you’re handed a small (but usable) budget to explore different areas of online business from starting a website to growing the business.

The first in this series showed you the “what if” of having $500 at our expense to build a website. The second was about creating content, and now this one will explore the next step: monetization through a product or service.

Do you condense your expertise into an information product or begin selling it as a service?

$500 isn’t a whole lot when you think about what it takes for world domination but let’s play along with this prompt and see where it can take us …

The Product/Service Idea (Process)

Information products are real money makers if you’re able to deliver a great product, set the right price, and find the right audience; all that it really takes it the distillation of your ideas and expertise into something tangible and then putting it out on the marketplace.

Alternatively, you could take a different route and keep that information within your noggin’ but offer it through a variety of services based on your skills and expertise.

For example – let’s suppose you know how to create websites – you could:

A. Create an ebook about the entire process of website creation and sell it through your site

B. Offer the website development as a service to businesses and companies

Either of these scenarios can lead to a good amount of capital – if you choose to do both than you can capitalize on the DIY crowd and business owners in need of help.

But … it all starts with an idea.

The idea for a product will generally come about through two different channels:

  • What you want
  • What they want

The easiest ideas will come to fruition based on your expertise and knowledge about particular topics within your industry – you’re scratching an itch. Through this brainstorming session you will generally land upon an idea you can easily run with because you’re already comfortable with the matter.

The opposite comes through customer and market research – this is where you use online and offline tools to understand your target audience. The product or service may not be exactly attuned to your current skillset and knowledge base but through this research you can find what needs to be added or improved in order to make it a viable item in the marketplace.

Here’s a simplistic process to forming these business ideas:

1. Write down all your major strengths and weaknesses

2. Look at the competition to see what they have to offer

3. Compare your strengths to the competition and find a unique selling point

4. Research the market and listen to the opinions, requests, and feedback

5. Reconfigure your ideas for a product or service to tailor to these needs within the market

Boom! You’re ready to get started.

Getting Down to Business

So, where does this $500 come into play?

  • We’re not all great content producers.
  • We’re not all great at selling our services.

The $500 budget becomes your bridge to seeing your idea come to fruition.

For products, you can turn to the expertise of freelancers to aid in the production of your information product whether it’s a ghostwriter to help distill your ideas onto the screen or a video producer to help with the recording and production of videos (if you’re doing a video information product).

Note: ecommerce is a completely different game to which you would need contacts with manufacturers – this is beyond the scope of this article but keep your eyes peeled for others on the topic in the future!

For services, you can turn to online platforms for advertising and marketing to help spread the word of what you have to offer. You can also employ freelancers for this goal of marketing the business via paid guest posting, social sponsorship, and more.

You can find these individuals on a variety of freelance sites like Elance, Freelancer, or oDesk.

The best approach, as I had mentioned, comes through the combination of these two monetization methods to which you produce an information product to those that identify with the DIY crowd (these are the people that want to save money and try their own hand at the information) and offer it to business owners that do not have the time to work through the process.

Consider spending the $500 on the following:

1. Record all your thoughts, expertise, and guidance about a topic (audio)

2. Send the audio to a freelancer to transcribe and structure the work

3. Pay for a great eBook cover and formatting

4. List it on your website through a landing and sales page

5. Create a new section of your website offering services related to the work

6. Pay for advertising and marketing campaigns to get found

This may seem very simplified, which it is, but it gives you the overview of what you need to accomplish if you want to monetize your website when you’re running on a budget (in our case, $500).

Play with the format and ideas to see what you can come up with and start funding the project – you’ve already come this far  – now’s the time to take the next step.