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Ever wish you could just randomly make several thousand dollars from a non-existent digital product? Well, it is totally possible and today’s guest is going to share all about how she did exactly that.
We’re going to cover all about how to successfully pre-sell a product, which is when you have an idea for a product and you sell the idea before you've actually even created the product.
On the Rebel Boss Ladies Podcast episode 036, the amazing and talented Kristi Monte is going to spill her personal story on making over $5000 by selling a product that literally did not exist.
Kristi is a virtual assistant, podcaster, business mentor and serial entrepreneur. She's the founder of her personal brand, Coffee with Kristi, as well as VA for a Day, her original project-based virtual assistant service where she creates automated systems for creative girl bosses.
Following the success of VA for a Day and after taking a position on Team Jasmine Star, Kristi began her virtual services mentorship program to make a bigger impact, helping online service-based entrepreneurs run their businesses profitably and efficiently.
I think after hearing Kristi’s story, you just might reconsider the idea of pre-selling your digital product. There are far more pros than cons, and who knows? You could be just one presale away from your first four figure or five figure launch for a product that doesn't even exist. How amazing does that sound, right?
Kristi started her entrepreneurship journey four years ago with Got Strings, a string ensemble business that she created because she felt like there weren’t many string ensembles in the Shenandoah Valley. She wanted to get more gigs, so she built a brand and it quickly became the biggest string ensemble in Virginia. Just like any average, 19-year-old musician, right?
After her first business success, Kristi went on to create her personal brand, podcast, YouTube Channel and blog, Coffee with Kristi, that focused on 20-something entrepreneurship.
When she needed some extra cash to pay the bills, she started another business, VA for a Day, which was a project-based virtual assistant service. “It was a way for me to basically have a business that aligned with my personal goals where I could work with people just project-based, whenever I could fit them into my schedule.”
On top of those three businesses, she also runs a podcast and editing business with her boyfriend, and she also has a direct sales business selling makeup and skincare. Needless to say, she’s got a lot going on.
You may think it’s hard to balance all of these different commitments, but Kristi knows what she’s doing. “In my head, I'm very clear. I know exactly what I'm doing. I know that I'm a serial entrepreneur. I know I've got a lot of different things. I plan on selling some businesses, I've got big goals for each one.”
Kristi emphasizes that even though she has all of these businesses, she makes sure that she’s building her work around her life, instead of the other way around.
“A lot of times people start businesses because they want to have freedom, but then they become a slave to their business and they are working 60 plus hours a week as an entrepreneur. And it doesn't have to be that way, it's your business. You call the shots.”
Out of her five businesses, Kristi is the most active in promoting her VA for a Day Instagram. Around the end of January 2019, one of her followers that saw how successful Kristi was DM’d her. She asked if Kristi had any kind of mentorship program that she could be a part of.
Kristi wasn’t sure what to think when she read this. “On the one hand I felt very unqualified because I had only had my virtual assistant business since July, and this was January. But on the other hand, I was thinking, ‘well, I've been an entrepreneur since I was 19 and definitely know that the fact that I book weeks and now months [in advance], it was a good indicator of the business's success.’”
She realized she was feeling a bit of imposter syndrome, but also thought that numbers and time shouldn’t really matter. She was young and her business was new, but her success spoke for itself and she decided to go for it.
On the spot, Kristi made up a plan and a price for her new mentorship program. “It was kind of bizarre to me because it was I came up with it in like two minutes… I was surprised at myself, like how quickly I was able to make up a program that didn't exist.”
Her follower immediately signed up, and Kristi was excited because she basically just made $175 on the spot. “But at the same time I was like, oh, no. That means that I mean to actually create this thing.”
Kristi’s next step was to reach out to everyone that had been contacting her over the past few months about how she ran her business and offered the mentorship program to them. She reached out to five different people and two said yes.
Her final step to get people to sign up for the program was to post it in her Instagram stories. She only had about 700 people following her at the time, but four more people signed up. In total, she had seven people sign up and made $1,250 from those sign ups before the product even existed.
For her, this was a huge success. “For me, who wasn't planning on launching anything and had never monetized my brain, like, I had never monetized knowledge that I had. I've only monetized performing for weddings and special events, performing a service for someone.”
Kristi launched her program in February, and spent the month creating the content as the mentorship progressed. She broke down the course by week and released different materials, guides, and scheduled calls with her participants.
Week one was dedicated to self-discovery, she had the participants fill out a guide and questionnaire that helped them figure out what their goals would be as a VA. The first 30-minute call she scheduled with the participants was during week two.
When they signed up, Krista had told her mentees that she would be releasing a lot of content that she hadn’t created yet and decided to release that on week three to make sure she had time to get everything done.
Many of these materials were things that she knew in her head, but hadn’t actually taken the time to put them down on paper yet. For example, her pricing formula, which she created the guide for by reverse engineering her usual pricing structure.
Kristi also wrote guides about how to find clients, prepping an Instagram bio for sales, and using Facebook groups to find clients. All things that she knew well, but just needed to develop materials for.
During week four, Kristi had an open 30-minute phone call with all the participants and let them ask any questions that they wanted to know about business or being a VA.
When this first mentorship cohort was finished, Kristi collected a lot of feedback about the program so she could work to improve it in the future. She also collected some valuable information about the pricing of her mentorship program.
“I put at the bottom of my feedback questionnaire, ‘how much would you have paid for this?’ Because I knew that $175 was cheap as hell, like I knew that, but I wanted to know really how much they would have paid.”
One of Kristi’s mentees said she would have paid $1000 for the program. The others said between $500-800. After receiving this feedback, Kristi realized that her program was worth a lot more than she had initially charged and decided to adjust her price. For her second session, she charged $375, and added a lot more materials.
For her second program in April, Kristi had a waiting list of excited participants ready to sign up. She also advertised again on Instagram and another 7 people signed up for the second iteration of her mentorship program.
The program keeps getting bigger – now there are over 15 resources instead of 3, and the pricing reflects that. “It's actually like a very is just a very much growing program and it's being built based on people's feedback.”
Kristi says that you don’t need a lot of social media followers to sell digital products and make money off of them. “When people say, ‘oh I can't monetize, I have under 10k followers,’ I'm like ‘BS. I have under a thousand followers. You can definitely make good money.’”
She was able to make a decent profit off of her product, even though she says it was underpriced and it was still being workshopped.
For Kristi, selling her product was all about understanding her target customer and making sure that she was catering to their needs. Her target customer is someone who is starting out in the online business world, and may not have the money to invest in an expensive course.
“For me, I'm selling to brand new virtual services business owners, like they don't have more than 400 bucks to lay down on something in reality and I want to be able to help as many people as I can. And to me, that's just making this as affordable as possible.”
She also got some really good testimonials from the first iteration of her mentorship program that sing her praises and help her sell her product.
“I added a bunch of testimonials on [my website] from people saying, ‘Kristi's your go-to mentor, she teaches you literally all that she knows.” Kristi emphasizes that this is true, and her program is really worth investing in because she gives away all of the information that she knows.
Kristi is not afraid of creating competition for herself in her industry like she’s seen in other industries. “People have such a scarcity mindset about what's going to happen when they when they mentor other people. But to me, it's like, gosh, there are so many business owners. Everyone needs a VA, everyone does.”
This not only helped her to draw in participants for her program, but also get some great testimonials. Her participants knew how much she was putting out there, and were willing to endorse her because of that.
Kristi almost exclusively used Instagram to reach out and advertise for her mentorship program while she was looking for participants.
While she was posting, about 30 people reached out to her after seeing her stories advertising the program. Of those 30 people, about 4 signed up.
“I send them all the same exact generic message, just saying, ‘hey girl, I'm running this mentorship program for the first time only for the month of February. I'm so excited to be sharing everything that I've learned over the past eight months of my business. You know how I grew it to like five figures without a single paid ad’.”
She described what the mentorship program entailed, gave some examples of the resources that were included, and shared the payment information.
All of this was about 5 days before the program actually started, because Kristi wanted to push the idea that time was running out to increase her sales.
“I think that combined with the fact that it was rapidly approaching and the fact that it was like I didn't know if I would ever offer this again because I was only doing it the one time to see if I'd like it. That scarcity and the fact that time was running out and they only had a couple more days to enroll if they wanted to, things like that really helped me sell it that first time.”
Throughout the first program, Kristi had actively been posting about the process and the materials she was creating on her account, which generated a lot of interest from her audience. The second time she was looking for participants for the program, she had a list of people who had expressed interest in participating after seeing her Instagram content that she was able to reach out to.
The messaging she sent the second time was a lot more strategic, and didn’t have as much fluff. She reached out specifically to the people who had previously expressed interest and re-explained what the program was and all of the details surrounding it.
“For the most part, I sent everybody the same generic message that time. If I could do it over, I'd probably send more personalized messages. I'd probably send more audio messages like voice texts on DMs and things like that. I think it probably would have sold better.”
Even though Kristi invested a lot of time into creating this product, she kept herself unemotional about the results of her sales.
For Kristi, this kind of product is all about the client, not her. She was there to teach people how to be a VA, and if they weren’t interested in participating in her program, Kristi didn’t take it personally.
“I just was very much like, if you want it, I got it. If you want to learn to be VA, I can teach you. I want to help you. But I don't want to help you if you don't want to be helped. So I'm not going to convince you to buy something that you don't want.”
Throughout the sales process, she talked to a few clients about whether or not the mentorship program was right for them at the time. They worked together to decide whether or not it was the best fit for them.
Kristi stayed in a pretty healthy emotional state throughout the sales process, however. “If somebody just said, nope, I was like, alright, well, moving on.”
Since she launched the first and second iterations of her mentorship program, Kristi’s changed it up a lot and has big plans moving forward. She used feedback from her target customers and considered their needs to develop the product into something that would interest more people.
First, she’s bundled all of her guides as a separate product that customers can buy without having to participate in the mentorship program itself. Kristi made the decision to do that because she realized that everyone learns differently and some people would rather just read through the materials.
The bundle now includes the 15 guides, 3 tutorials that include material on how to use MailChimp and Planoly, a sample Trello board, and more. The bundle costs the same amount as her original mentorship program, $197.
For Kristi, all of these topics were “things that come naturally to me, but I realized that they're not actually natural. It's just over four years running a business. It's not even just stuff that I've learned since starting VA for day, it's stuff that I have all the way back in my brain.”
Kristi also included a few add-ons for people that want more of the mentorship experience, including two 30-minute phone calls with her, access to the VA for a Day Directory and the opportunity to join Kristi’s networking Facebook group. All of these are only available to people that have demonstrated that they read through the guides and information in the bundle.
Both the Directory and the Facebook group provide members with the opportunity to meet other VAs, share referrals and network about services. Anyone who has gone through Kristi’s mentorship program automatically gets access to both of these.
Overall, Kristi really likes the opportunity to make passive income with the guide bundle. She wanted to transform the content that she had created for her very active membership into a passive source of income, and this has helped her to develop her business a lot. “I've never really had true passive income in any of my businesses. I've always been selling a service or product or things like that.”
One motto that Kristi has decided to live by in her business mindset is a quote by Jasmine Star – “I’m only responsible for the effort, not the outcome.”
Kristi works hard to try to succeed in all of her businesses. She sets big goals and puts in a lot of effort, but she doesn’t get attached to any specific kind of outcome. “If I don't hit those goals, I'm fine because I know that I tried like as long as I'm just effort-ing and I'm working toward something if that thing doesn't happen, I'm not heartbroken over it.”
Kristi is a proud ENTJ on the Myers Briggs and Enneagram 3, which means she’s much more logical, rather than emotional, in her decision making. But she uses this to her advantage in her business.
“I'm such a pragmatic thinker… And so I just kind of go. Is this a good idea? Yes. Is this going to sell? I don't know. Let me try it out. Let's see if it's like I just kind of logically think about everything. And that's how I run my business.”
This complements her target customer pretty well. Kristi says that her idea client is a more creative-type, who needs her logical, systems-oriented brain to come and set up workflows and structure.
If Kristi could emphasize one thing to other entrepreneurs and online business owners, it’s that it is totally possible to sell a product before it exists. Whether you have an idea for a project, a course, a guide, a business or a service, Kristi says “you can not only sell it before it exists, you can actually sell it before you even have the idea for it to exist.”
The key to doing this is making sure you’re listening to your audience and target customers.
“You may not have a huge audience and have a million people asking questions. But my guess is you probably have had somebody in the past who's reached out and asked you if you have any advice on X, Y, Z.”
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. “If you're doing your stuff right, If you're posting on Instagram and you're doing all the things and people can see that you're having success, others want to have your success. They want to know how you're doing it.”
People will want to know your tips and tricks to save themselves time and the hours of work figuring it out on their own, so if you’re listening you can use that information to figure out how to help people.
“When somebody reaches out to you and says that they have a question, It's up to you to create it for them. It's up to you to actually answer their question in a way that is going to serve them in their business. It's getting something from demand.”
If you can create something based off of that demand, you’ll be able to make money before it exists. This is also definitely something to keep in mind for any digital product – before spending a lot of time and effort creating a digital product, make sure that you know there’s a demand and an interest in that product.
“Test the waters like see if people bite, release it incrementally like I did and you know just kind of build the course or the program or whatever it is around your schedule.”
Kristi’s last piece of advice?
“Build your business around your life. Sell something based on demand. You're doing your audience a disservice by not serving them what they want. Like, I truly believe that. So whether you have 10 followers or you have ten thousand followers, they follow you because you're giving them some sort of value. So serve them with what they want in you and you could make over a thousand dollars in just a couple days.”
//LINKS IN THE SHOW//
Find Kristi’s website, Coffee with Kristi, here – https://www.coffeewithkristi.com/
Follow Kristi on Instagram