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There are a few things in our lives that are finite. The number of times that we’ll watch Tom Brady play in a Superbowl. The number of times that we’ll eat pizza. And… well, time in general.
I’m sure this fact isn’t lost on you.
As a matter of fact, you’re spending your valuable time right now reading this post when you could be eating pizza. (Or maybe you’re doing the right thing and eating pizza while you’re reading this.)
But as a business owner, you probably live the adage “time is money” even more than most. Most business owners start by trading their time for dollars.
Whether the time is spent as a pooper-scooper, freelance writer, preschool teacher, or even a handmade artisan – the amount of time you can physically work becomes a limiting factor. You can only grow so much when you're a team of one. Sure, you can charge more, but you run the risk of pricing yourself out of the market.
There's also the risk of new competitors in the market and market needs shifting. When I was a kid, there was only one option for pizza delivery. Now I can get sushi delivered to my door. If that innovative Mom & Pop pizza place from 1989 didn't update their product offerings, their delicious food probably got left out in the cold. So – how do you diversify your products and income stream
- Add additional complementary products and services
- Create premium products or services
- Teach others how to do what you do
- Extend your product or service to reach a new audience
Let's take a more in-depth look at each of these diversification options and how you can apply them to your business.
Option 1: Add complementary products and services
Adding new products and services allows you to sell more to your existing customer base. You don't even have to create all the products or do all of the services yourself. You can create joint partnerships, hire contractors, or participate in affiliate programs to expand your reach. Here are a few examples:
- Use Amazon affiliate links to recommend products that you use regularly.
- Join affiliate programs for software that you use in your own business and can recommend.
- Hire contractors to provide additional services. If you’re a copywriter, work with a designer who can assist with layouts or a tech person who can help build websites and funnels.
- Bundle your products and services with other people’s offerings. For example, a nutritionist could create a meal plan to go along with a fitness professional’s new workout program.
Option 2: Create premium programs and services
Premium products and services allow you to charge more for each minute of your time. Consider how you can bundle several pieces of work together to create a premium experience or add value to an existing product.
- Create “intensives” that allow you to focus on a brick of work for a specific client on a day. You'll be more efficient, and the client will feel great because they've made significant progress on a project.
- Develop high-touch versions of some of your products or a membership program for recurring revenue. This can be adding 1:1 coaching, small group programs, or reviews.
Option 3: Teach others to do what you do
One of the best ways to diversify your income streams is to find ways to teach others to do what you do. Selling information and instruction is a booming industry – according to some studies, it could reach $325 billion globally by 2025.
- Create and sell templates or patterns. From pre-written social media posts, customizable printable templates to knit and crochet templates, selling low-cost products can create ongoing income streams from your skills.
- Create courses for specific skills – from parenting to organizing, hand lettering, etc. Whether your course focuses on the basics or takes your readers deep into their skill set.
- Write a book about your experiences or the “secret sauce” of how you do what you do. Whether you find a traditional publisher or self-publish your book, writing a book establishes you as a thought-leader in your industry and can introduce you to a whole new audience. (A great example of this is my book – Minimum Viable Marketing.)
Option 4: Extend your product or service to reach a new audience
If you've always served a local audience, consider ways to reach a new audience. Of course, teaching others what you do helps you reach a broader audience, but there are also ways that you can expand your services.
- Provide your services online. Consider OnlineTrademarkAttorneys.com. While many attorneys still practice in their local areas, Brent Sausser and Alexandra B. Summers expanded their practice to help business owners and content creators trademark their work anywhere in the US.
- Franchise your business. You can’t be everywhere, but your systems and services can be. When you franchise your business, other business owners run a branch of your business, replicating your products and services.
- Approach a different niche. Different audiences will invest more in the same products and services than others. An experienced social media marketer may charge $25 an hour when working for a solopreneur and $150 an hour when working for a large business or as a consultant.
Need more inspiration? Check out these businesses that have expanded and diversified their product offerings.
- Friends Art Lab. The Friends Art Lab team started by running an in-person preschool and selling coloring pages, coloring banners, and sensory bin materials. Now they also offer a virtual preschool of highly engaging pre-recorded videos and lesson plans that serve thousands of children worldwide.
- GoCleanCo started as a cleaning company in Calgary, Alberta. Now they teach the #CleaningArmy of over 1.7 million to clean their own homes, do laundry better with printable guides, product recommendations, and even create a licensing model so other cleaning companies worldwide can help homeowners live a cleaner life.
- TL Yarn Crafts. Toni Lipsey, the creative genius behind TL Yarn Crafts, started by selling handmade creations. Now she focuses on selling her own patterns, teaching online, and developing partnerships for her community of over 120,000 fans.
- The Happy Ever Crafter. Becca Courtice started out doing calligraphy as an outlet from her boring corporate job. Just 6 years later, she spends her days teaching others to do handmade calligraphy and start their own creative businesses. She still offers calligraphy services for weddings, store windows, murals, and signage.
There are always new and creative ways to expand your reach and increase your bottom line when you’re open to it.
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