How to Sell 500 Million Units, Ten Things to Do as Your Own Rainmaker
by Jennifer Xue
In ancient times, Native Americans believed that a “rainmaker” had an innate gift to summon rain. He must had been born in the right family and became an apprentice to a senior rainmaker who was passing his torch to a successor. Today, anyone can become a rainmaker with the right mindsets, strategies, and tools.
In the last few decades, being a rainmaker was harder than today. You had to have been born into a privileged family, attended top schools, joined professional associations or chambers of commerce, and networked with the right people at the right places. Of course, there were exceptions to the norm, as the creator of The Little Blue Books series.
Today, we can harness the power of Internet and other advanced technologies to make ourselves “rainmakers.” And, there are at least ten things you must do.
First, grow a huge following.
Today, the key to success is “no-marketing” marketing: building an audience. Seth Godin called it a “tribe.” Michael Hyatt called it a “platform.” Whatever you call it, it starts with providing value to a lot of people for free. Your goal is having people seeking you out for your expertise. Grow an audience.
A 1920s-author pioneered this “no-marketing” rainmaking method. He was way beyond his time. There was no Internet, no mobile phone, and no tablet computer. His name was Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, who started a series of small blue books named “The Little Blue Books.” It was sold 5 cents each and sold 500 million copies. Five hundred million copies, not a typo.
Haldeman-Julius built his audience by acquiring a dying newspaper with 175,000 subscribers. Today, writers can easily build Internet mailing list. Jeff Goins took 18 months to grow a following of 100,000. Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog now has more than one million subscribers.
Other than with Internet mailing list and podcasting, leverage the power of the media: TV, radio, video, audio, and others. Also, leverage the power of influencers, who are already celebrities in their own rights. Partner up with influencers who already have huge followings. Combining massive scalability of technologies with influencers would result in something explosive.
David Visentin, a real estate agent in Ontario, who is a star of a Canadian reality TV show “Love It or List It” is now reaping the professional and financial benefits for having his skills aired weekly. His offline real estate business soars as a result. Gary Vaynerchuk built WineLibrary.com and used it as a platform to teach about wine with self-produced videos, which groomed 100,000 followers and boosted his family’s wine business.
Jaime Tardy of Eventual Millionaire was unknown a couple of years ago until she started a blog featuring interviews with millionaires and published a business book also titled “The Eventual Millionaire: How Anyone Can Be An Entrepreneur and Successfully Grow Their Startup.” She leverages the power of celebrity millionaires, who have their own huge followings. Once a featured millionaire announces their interview with Jaime, you bet she receives a flood of traffic her way. A smart business lady, indeed.
In your case, you must start growing your mailing list. Collaborate with similar writers or sites selling similar products (but not identical, so you’re not competing with them) with subscribers that might be interested in your products as well. For instance, if your list has 10,000 subscribers, collaborating with three other lists would total in 30,000 prospective buyers instantly. Now if your product features interviews or profiles of individuals or businesses that already have huge followings, you can be sure that their public relations division would disseminate the news and make your product totally explosive.
Second, groom your followers with great content, which solves problems, answers curiosities, and ignites new passions.
An important lesson from Haldeman-Julius’ little blue books: they answered curiosities, solved problems, and ignited passions. At that time, only the rich had access to print books, which were quite pricey and rare. Haldeman-Julius provided the lower class with affordable 50-cent books, which immediately became a hit. He monopolized the affordable publishing at that time and became an important “agent of change.”
People loved those tiny non-assuming books. They created a new breed of readers and inspired new writers. Realizing this money-making opportunity, Haldeman-Julius offered a correspondence writing course for $100 that provided him with an endless supply of new writers to help him produce new books.
Subjects of Haldeman-Julius’ tiny books included:
- Common Faults in Writing English
- How To Improve Your Conversation
- How to Pronounce 4000 Troublesome Words
- A Book of Familiar Quotations
- How to Improve Your Vocabulary
- Handy Book of Useful Tables
- How to Write Letters for All Occasions
I bet you’re already amazed looking at these titles because they sound more todayish than from the 1920s. Read more about these incredible books on Haldeman-Julius.org.
Learning from Halderman-Julius, find topics (keywords) that people are querying. Remember to write about things that solve problems, answer curiosities, and ignite new passions. Some expert marketers prefer to choose “low hanging fruits,” while others choose the wider net. Both come with pros and cons.
If you’re considering to publish Kindle ebooks, an excellent way to know which keywords are trending is by using Kindle Spy. It’s a browser extension that calculates the earnings of best-selling ebooks on Amazon and trending keywords. It goes without saying that ebooks containing the trending keywords are more likely to be picked up and bought by an eager audience.
Next, groom your audience by creating content (blog posts, long form articles, ebooks, slides, videos, and audios) that answer their search queries. Be as comprehensive as possible, so you’d stand out in the vast ocean of short blog posts. Google ranks long articles (2000+ words) higher than short ones, so take advantage of this algorithm.
Third, earn your followers’ trust by being a transparent, generous, and reputable expert.
We all love dealing with honest, open, and credible individuals who are happy to share. So, be one! Neil Patel and Guy Kawasaki, for instance, are always approachable on their blogs. They answer questions and post informative articles, sometimes as requested by avid readers.
My personal favorite is Dean Wesley-Smith with his “writing in public” blog articles. His writing schedule and what he thinks about the latest publishing landscape are open books for all of us to read and comment. Dean’s wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote a series of blog articles, which she compiled into an ebook titled “Discoverability: Help Readers Find You in Today’s World of Publishing.” She is as generous and reputable as her husband for sharing her experiences as a veteran author and marketer.
You can start with one of your skills, hobbies, and passions. Create a platform for you to talk about it freely, comprehensively, and authoritatively with a blog, a video blog, or a podcast. The key is to open the channels of communication with your audience to find out what they need and want from you. Of course, you can always check with search engines’ keyword queries to justify your discussion topics.
Fourth, come up with authentic ideas and challenges.
James Altucher repackaged the concept of entrepreneurship and being courageous enough to live its lifestyle with these terminologies: “chose himself,” “said no,” and “became an idea machine.” Despite there is nothing new under the sun, how you say it renews the old concepts. Repackage, combine, reformat, rewrite, and reprogram old concepts, so they appear new and fresh. You can talk about being an entrepreneur from all kinds of angle and Altucher chose to talk about it from courage and acceptance of uniqueness points of view.
How many books about “mindfulness” can you find on Amazon.com? The last time I checked, it was more than 20,000 titles. Every title offers something new despite the main concept is likely identical. Whenever you want to cite something from another author’s work, make sure to cite them with proper citations either directly or indirectly.
If you want to combine what you already have in mind with what you’ve just read, close the source and rely on your memory when typing the new passage down. This way, you can genuinely make the concepts yours with your ideas and synthesize new information. Plagiarism only occurs when the wordings are identical. Similar ideas that are written down differently is acceptable in the publishing world.
Remember, there is nothing new under the sun. You just need to be creative enough in presenting them in new ways for your audience. Create a system that allows you to write and rewrite with a lot of fun and creativity. Be as creative as you wish. Whenever the new information is presented in a different way, it’s publishable. In different sentences, different words, and different structures. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Fifth, package information in various formats for your audience’s convenience.
We’re inundated by formats, platforms, and distributions channels now. There are so many of them that we can hardly catch up. I’m always interested in new platforms and distribution channels so I can disseminate my works easier and in larger quantity. Familiarize yourself with them.
Many applications can easily convert any file into PDF. For converting a text file into EPUB dan MOBI, two of the most popular ebook formats, you can choose Scrivener (an advanced paid writing program that truly helps writers getting their job done) or Calibre. Calibre is a comprehensive free application for ebook conversion from HTML to PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and others.
For distributing your ebooks, you can choose to sell or promote them for free on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and other ebook retailers or to have them available for free on Noisetrade, Publi.sh, and others. Many authors give away the first book as a “bait” for subsequent books in a series or selling more expensive packages or products/services —also called “funnel marketing.”
Sixth, use titles that stand out and powerful words.
In a nutshell, a title of an article or a book solves a problem, answers a question, or ignites a passion. Both the wording and the content of the title should have elements of curiosity, controversy, surprise, benefit, and novelty (extraordinary).
solve problems with curiosity
solve problems with controversy
solve problems with surprise
solve problems with benefit
solve problems with novelty
answer questions with curiosity
answer questions with controversy
answer questions with surprise
answer questions with benefit
answer questions with novelty
ignite passions with curiosity
ignite passions with controversy
ignite passions with surprise
ignite passions with benefit
ignite passions with novelty
Next, sprinkle powerful words in your title to add passion and sense of urgency in readers. You want your title to solve, answer, and ignite with curiosity, controversy, surprise, benefit, or novelty with passion and urgency.
Amazing, Awesome, Badass, Captivating, Enticing, Exceptional, Extraordinary, Fantastic, Fascinating, Hot, Incredible, Interesting, Intriguing, Irresistible, Killer, Powerful, Radical, Sensational, Sexy, Perfect
All, Any, Anyone, Anything, Anywhere, Every, Everyone, Everywhere
The Latest, The Most Recent, All New, Breakthrough, Cutting Edge, Fresh, Groundbreaking Innovative, Modern, New, Revolutionary
Budget, Cheap, Dirt Cheap, Shoestring
Benefits of Increase
Enhance, Expand, Explode, Get more, Have more, Increase, Skyrocket, Supercharge, Turbocharge
Benefits of Decrease
Annihilate, Curb, Decrease, Destroy, Eliminate, Have less, Incinerate, Reduce, Shrink
Benefits of Change
Change, Expand, Fix, Free From, Freedom From, Help, Improve, Overcome, Overhaul, Redesign, Reprogram, Transform, Upgrade
End, Kills, Ruin, Sabotage
Crucial, Essential, Must Have, Required
Automatic, Easiest, Easy, Effortless, No-Stress, Quick and Easy, Relaxing, Simple, Simplest, Step-By-Step, Stress-Free Trick
Assured, Can’t Fail, Clinically Proven, Fail-Proof, Guaranteed, No Fail, Proven, Scientifically Proven
Challenging, Difficult, Frustrating, Hard, Overwhelming, Tough
Secret, Shocking, Strange, Surprising, Twist, Uncommon, Weird
Breeze, Fast, Immediate, Instant, Automatic, Now, Overnight, Quick, Quick-fix, Speed, Speedy, Lightning fast
A-Z, Complete, Comprehensive, Essential, Ultimate
Best, Extraordinary, Favorite, Greatest, Indispensable, Irreplaceable, Most Effective, Most Powerful, Perfect, Smarter, Top, Ultimate, Unstoppable
Hidden, Lost, Mystery, Secret, Unexplained
Banned, Censored, Controversial, Dangerous, Forbidden, Restricted
Death, Die, Instinct, Primal
Addicted, Hooked, Obsessed
Conquer, Dominate, Outsmart, Outwit, Overcome, Overpower, Unstoppable
Crazy, Extreme, Insane, Radical, Ridiculous
Funny, Happy, Hilarious, Humorous, Laugh out loud
Bible, Blueprint, Formula, Solution, Ultimate Guide
Anguish, Anxious, Disturbing, Dread, Horrified, Miserable, Misery, Overwhelmed, Stuck, Terrified, Worried, Worry
Brain Wash, Control, Influence, Make, Mind Control, Persuade, Persuasion
Glowing, Healthy, Radiant, Vibrant
Annihilate, Fat Demolish, Fat Incinerate, Fat Melt, Fat Sculpt, Shred Fat, Slim, Slimmer
Cookbook Buzz Words
Irresistible, Chewy, Cravings, Delicious, Healthy, Irresistible, Melt-In-Your-Mouth, Mouth Watering, Savory, Scrumptious, Tasty
Keep this long list of powerful words handy to save time when you’re considering for a book or article title.
Seventh, provide your followers with searchable resources to assist their pre-purchase research. Let them test your claims, so they believe you.
Just like when you’re buying a car, you’d need to do a pre-purchase research, including a test drive and comparison with other makes and types. When you encourage readers to do pre-purchase research, you’re showing your good faith and trustworthiness.
The Internet comes with the spirit of abundance. Scarcity was the feature of agricultural and industrial societies, while knowledge society today comes with abundance. With the Internet, complete scalability is possible as a digital product in any form can be enjoyed by one, hundreds, thousands, millions, or even billions with literally a one-time cost of production.
There is no need to feel intimidated by competitors, as long as you believe that your product is of superior quality. With this spirit of sharing, you encourage readers to review competitors and make their decision with confidence.
Eighth, be visible where your audience and prospective followers are.
This takes time and hustling skills. We’re not the Kardashian-Jenner family who are known worldwide and whose combined Twitter followers are in the tens of millions. We need to show up by collaborating with influencers, competitors, and people with similar passions, so at least we have access to thousands of audience.
Youtube stars, for instance, make themselves visible in VidCon and other events. You can use this strategy to better promote your digital products, like blogs or ebooks. In addition to leveraging the power of the Internet and media, be visible in person by going to appearances would greatly help. Gigi Gorgeous, a Youtube star, is renowned for her confident and positive attitude. She has meet-and-greet events in big cities from time to time, which is a great way to promote her media star status.
Make your audience feel close to you, not only in the media but also in the flesh. Taylor Swift understands this very well. She gives out presents to her fans and meets them whenever possible. This way, her brand as a “good girl next door” would live long and her audience becomes more loyal through the years.
Ninth, be available and make yourself useful in various events where you can help others.
Whenever there is an opportunity to do good for the people, do it wholeheartedly. Sponsor charity events by donating your products, volunteer for good causes, and invite those who need assistance to attend a social event. Start with your community and children’s activities.
On your blog, you can always answer questions nicely and tactfully. Project an image of helpfulness. You might always have time to give long answers, but give at least 30 minutes per day reading comments and appreciate them. You can also start Facebook or Twitter events where you’d spend an hour answering chat questions related to your products or specific topics. Be creative in being helpful.
Tenth, be a gardener, not a trophy hunter.
A rainmaker does more than summoning the rain. She is also a gardener. With patience, dedication, and rainwater, the seeds she planted would eventually grow into trees with blooming flowers. A rainmaker understands this. Rainmakers are in the business long-term, not temporary. They have trees to grow and, eventually, harvest.
Maintain your stamina for a series of marathons. Create a product or products. Market them with the right strategies. Rinse and repeat. Rainmakers love the rain, so they continue to keep themselves ready to get “wet” in the process.
Image Credit: Pixabay