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How Praveen Malik of PM by PM Earns a Living Helping Others Pass the PMP Exam
- Who: Praveen Malik
- Website: pmbypm.com
- Course Topic: PMP Exam Preparation
- Interesting Stats: 5-Figure/Month Earner
Who are you and what types of courses have you created?
My name is Praveen Malik. I am a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with 24+ years of rich professional experience. I am a computer science engineer by education and have a good working experience of managing $1m+ multi-geography projects and programs.
Today, I manage a successful eponymous blog (Project Management by Praveen Malik). It is one of the top 3 global blogs in its niche. I sell eBooks for PMP exam preparation through my blog.
What market do your learning products serve?
I have created learning products for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam preparation.
PMP exam is conducted by the Project Management Institute, USA. One has to take this exam to become PMP certified.
PMP is the most respected project management certification and one of the top-paying professional certifications.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your learning products?
PMP is a very expensive and difficult exam. It costs $555 just to take the exam. A large percentage of students fail this exam.
My learning products help students to crack the certification exam in their first attempt.
My products provide a unique perspective for the PMP exam preparation that is not provided by any other course provider in this field.
How did you get into the market?
I had an entrepreneurial bug right from my college days. Starting early on, I dabbled in a few businesses while working as an employee but did not see much success.
I started as a software programmer way back in the mid-90s. It was a boom time for the IT industry in those days and I got a regular appreciation for my performance. I was quickly pushed into a quasi- management role and was given responsibility for client communication and team management.
This gave me my initial thrust into project management. I really liked it and I started learning the ropes of finer aspects of managing projects and made it my full-time career. I gained expertise in project management through my work.
Before venturing into my current business, I worked in diverse business environments doing product development, services & support, product-oriented services, and software as a service. I traveled extensively and was exposed to many different cultures. I worked and interacted with clients from different geographies viz. USA, Europe, and India.
I took a mid-career shift in the year 2008 and started doing freelance project management activities. In the process, I conducted a few project management workshops.
I think I have a natural inclination for training and coaching, so I started concentrating only on the training business. Over the years, I have mentored & formally trained many successful individuals in the finer aspects of practical project management.
I started writing my blog in the year 2014. I wanted to enhance my reputation in the professional training world. The blog certainly helped my training business but it did much more than that. In about a year, the blog started attracting visitors from all over the Globe.
From here on, I started learning about blog monetization and Internet marketing. This transformed my classroom training into an online business.
Why did you decide to create online learning products in the first place?
There are a couple of factors that led me to create online learning products.
Firstly, I am a popular and well Project Management trainer. I am considered as a foremost expert for PMP exam preparation. Many project management practitioners in India know me by my name. For me transitioning from classroom training to create online products was a natural progression.
Secondly, a few years ago my blog became very popular and it started attracting global traffic. I wanted to monetize the blog so I started promoting third-party courses and providing online coaching.Over the years I moved to create my own products as it is the most efficient, effective, and profitable way to monetize a blog. -Praveen Malik Click To Tweet
Thirdly, over a period of the last few years, the training industry has started shifting from classroom training mode to online training.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched your first product?
Oh! I had a lot of doubts before creating the product. But the doubt was not about the product itself.
I was almost sure that the product would be good. That’s because I was already conducting professional training for a number of years and I knew what kind of products people needed. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was if the product would be successful online since I did not have much knowledge about Internet marketing.
I procrastinated a lot before creating and launching my first product.
What are your online learning products like?
My full course is a combination of PDF files and an Excel spreadsheet. It contains eBooks and a Quiz. I am in the process of creating a video version of these products.
How long did it take you to create your first product?
My first product was an eBook. I created it while I was still learning the ropes of Internet marketing.
It did not take me long to create the eBook. That’s because I practically locked myself inside a room for three days and wrote the first draft of the eBook. I put it on the blog and kept it free for a few days. Later I refined it after receiving some feedback from the readers.
After refining the eBook, I formally published it with an initial price tag of $3.99. I was not sure how much would people pay. As the eBook became more popular, I increased the price. The current version of the eBook sells for $9.99.
Tell us a little about the process of launching and getting your first sale(s).
First, I got a Gumroad subscription and created my profile page on it. Next, I uploaded my eBook on my Gumroad profile and started marketing it through my blog. And lastly, I used three mechanisms to promote the eBook:
- First, I wrote a blog post for it and promoted it through the post.
- Then I promoted the eBook through my social media properties.
- Finally, I sent an email to my blog subscribers announcing the launch of eBook.
Do you have a lead magnet?
I have a few lead magnets. These are all PDF files that help PMP aspirants for the PMP exam preparation.
The most popular lead magnet is on the website’s home page but the lead magnet that brings most sales is on one of my blog posts.
Many professionals download these PDF files and become blog subscribers. I send a sequence of 7 mails after they download the file and describe the benefits of my products. Some people go on to buy the products.
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works best for me. About 80% of my traffic comes from organic search.
In my first year of writing for the blog, one of my posts got very popular. Initially, I could not understand the reason for its popularity. Later it became clear that most of the traffic was coming from Google search. My blog post was ranking on page 1 of Google search. This is when I started reading about SEO.Today, I have a good understanding of SEO and as a result, a number of my articles rank on page 1 of Google search. -Praveen Malik Click To Tweet
What online learning platform are you using?
I have used Thinkific but currently, I am using Thrive Apprentice. I stopped using Thinkific because it has a bug; one cannot make purchases from India.
I like Thrive Apprentice. I do wish it had a feature for providing a course completion certificate.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
I decided against using Thinkific because it has a serious defect and the Thinkific team had no plan for resolving the bug.
I chose Thrive Apprentice as it is much cheaper than any of the other course platforms that I have seen. Plus it is easy to use.
What other tools do you use to run your online learning business?
I primarily use Mailchimp for email marketing and Gumroad as a payment engine.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
I’m an avid reader and I have read many useful books. If I have to make a choice between all the books that I have read so far, I would recommend the following two books:
- Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber
The book is a must for every small business owner. It explains why most small businesses fail and what business owners should do. The book is written as a long story in a simple and lucid language. There is absolutely no business jargon. It can be understood by anyone. The book painstakingly explains why small business owners should work on their business and not in it. It talks about the virtues of implementing systems and processes to run the business.
- Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson
This is a highly motivational and inspirational book. Dr. Ericsson has assimilated his years of research and written this book in a very simple manner. The book talks about the power of the mind and explains how one can achieve almost anything by doing purposeful and goal-oriented practice. Dr. Ericsson calls it “Deliberate Practice”. The book refers to many case studies to prove how Deliberate Practice outscores natural talent.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
I have not made any mistakes as such but I had a serious shortcoming which is that I’d get too many ideas that I’d jump on.
I have wasted a lot of time chasing many of these ideas. Some of the ideas have been successful but a lot of them have been a wasted effort. The ideas were not bad. In fact, most of them were good but each idea needs time and effort for fruition, which requires a concerted effort.
This used to keep me distracted from my primary goal but, over a period of time, I have realized all ideas are not worthy and many of them cannot be practically executed. Nowadays, whenever I get a new idea, I make a small note and move on. I try not to get distracted by the new idea. Usually, I ponder over the ideas, validate them with the team, shortlist them, and them execute them.
Please share some idea of revenue.
Our revenue is low five figures per month in US Dollars. It has grown consistently in the last few years. This income goes a long way in India since the cost of living here is much less than the western world.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from your learning products has done for you.
The money earned from my business has done a lot of things for me and my family. Most of all it has given us freedom. As a family, we can spend time together. We have started taking regular and sometimes expensive International vacations.
Secondly, because of the extra income, I was able to recruit employees to move to a proper office.
What has creating your business done for you personally?
My blog started generating income automatically after I created my first learning product which gave me a lot of freedom. I started working on new learning products and was not too much worried about day-to-day sustenance.
After the initial success of my first learning product, I also recruited a few people for additional support. This gave me additional freedom to spend time with family.
What do you wish you knew before you started?
Hindsight is 20/20. I would like to give the following advice to people who are just starting out:
- First, do not run after too many things and ideas. Concentrate on a few goals and make your effort count.
- Secondly, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. One should recognize their weak points and work on them. It is never a good idea to brush something under the carpet.
- Lastly, there are always unforeseen risks in life and business. One should be prepared for them. No one knows what will happen in the future so it is better to be prepared for the unexpected.