My very first digital product was an e book on blogging. It took about two weeks of dedicated time to write, publish and prepare for sale. I released it during the first big snow storm of last winter. My husband and I celebrated every single $15 sale. We kept track of sales all weekend, as each got us closer to realizing our goal.
I was generating income while the snow was coming down — no mailman or car trips required.
And at the same time, I was providing information and ideas that my customer base was demanding. It was a win-win. And, with nearly 500 copies alone of that product sold, it has kept on winning for the last 10 months.
I’m no longer a stay-at-home mom with a business on the side. I’m the sole breadwinner for my family — earning enough to allow my husband to quit his soul-sucking job — and a leader in my field. While much of this success was the result of sweat and tears, it was also due in no small part to my success with creating digital products.
Digital products are my number one income stream, making the dream of owning my own business and providing a great life for my family a reality.
Why Should I Develop a Digital Product? Creating digital products can be one (big) step toward creating a more sustainable business. Digital products allow you to serve more customers, replicate more time consuming work and provide your services at all hours of the day or night.
These products are far from easy money, even if they are referred to as passive income. It is hard work to create a professional finished product, write sales copy and set up sales systems. However, the rewards far outweigh the challenges and, once you get started, you might just get addicted!
Digital publishing and online sales have opened up industries that have long been difficult to break into. You — yes, you, even in your business — can create a successful digital product that provides a valuable service to customers and improves your business model.
Now that you’ve got the bug, keep reading to see what kind of digital product will benefit your business, how to create it and how to sell it.
What Kind of Product Should I Develop?Tired of the word “ebook”? Good, me too. The best digital products on the market today are so much more than just pretty PDFs. Here’s a list of what might work for you:
- membership community
- paid newsletter
- conference call
- group coaching
- digital design templates
- multimedia ebook
If you have something to teach someone, you can develop a digital product. Because our culture is so do-it-yourself focused, developing an informative product based on a premium one-on-one service that teaches your customer how to create something similar at a lower price point can help you reach an audience you never thought viable.
As the new wave of digital shelter magazines demonstrates, creating a digital product is also a great way to get around traditional publishing boundaries. Got something to say? Say it with a digital product.
Who Will Benefit from My Product?As with any product, you can’t sell it if it doesn’t have an audience.
Digital publishing has long been the domain of business-to-business sales. Sure, teaching people how to make more money is a great sales tool. But digital products can also be developed for consumers. Think printable stationery, digital scrapbooking resources, the new spate of design magazines and customizable calendars.
When considering the audience for your product, think about who you’re not currently reaching with your existing products or services. Is there a way to translate those products to the digital medium? Can you lower the price to reach new customers?
You can also consider the opposite. Maybe your customers are ready for the next level. Can you develop a premium product to take them there? Can you offer additional features or bonuses that will let you attract more experienced or high-end buyers?
Finally, the easiest way to develop a product and know its audience is to look in your inbox. As a business owner, you no doubt get emails by the hundreds asking you for information and resources on x, y or z. Developing a digital product around x, y and z allows you to capture those emails as sales leads instead of sending them to another business.
Got My Idea. How Do I Create This with Software I Already Have?Many people would like to get into digital product creation but assume there are many barriers. Well, there aren’t.
I created my first ebook with a demo version of Pages (part of iWork for Mac). Within a few hours of launching it, I had paid for the full version. I love working with Pages for ebooks because of the advanced layout functions. But you can also use Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat Pro, even Google Docs or Open Office to create a PDF suitable for publishing.
If you’d like to create a more interactive product, you can use blog software, like WordPress, to create a private blog or website that only allows access to buyers. Use a free plugin like s2Member and you can integrate payment and registration seamlessly.
Looking to create some pretty printables? Use your photo or design program of choice to create PDF files that include easy instructions for printing and assembly. Don’t assume they have intimate knowledge of their printer settings like you do.
There are also a host of online applications that allow you to create magazines, webinars or conference calls for little or no upfront cost.
It’s Done. How Do I Sell It Online?To sell a digital product, all you really need is a PayPal account and web space.
Using a service like e-Junkie or Clickbank can also automate your product offerings. Big Cartel offers an application called Pulley that does something similar and integrates with your existing shop. Any of these services will dramatically reduce the time involved in selling and distributing your products.
Not only do these services handle check out, they provide automatic and secure downloads for your products, redirect customers to your private website, compile newsletter lists, and make it possible to update your product for customers in the future.
I use e-Junkie and have been very pleased with its integration with peripheral services (for me, Mail Chimp and PayPal), its flexibility and most definitely its price, which starts at just $5 a month.
Whatever you choose, you’ll need to set a space on your website or blog where you’ll describe the product, offer testimonials, show images, etc. This is your product landing page or sales page. It’s where you send readers who might be interested in purchasing your product. It’s where you describe their needs, detail your solutions, answer their questions and make the offer.
How Do I Get the Most Bang for my Digital Buck? As with the any online sales, selling a digital product is not a matter of “if you create it, they will come.”
Having a strong, interactive email list is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your digital product. You can use your list to build excitement about the product as you create it. Ask your subscribers what questions they’d like to see you answer. Get feedback on your ideas. Being a part of the process means your subscribers will be more likely to buy on launch day.
You can do the same thing with your other social media networks. Start building buzz early. Detail your progress. Let them know what you’re struggling with. Tell them about your successes. When you involve your customers in the process of product creation, you’ll feel more confident in the finished product.
If you haven’t built a large following on social media or a big email list yet, don’t despair. You can build buzz about your product by guest posting on other blogs about related topics. You can also submit your product (for free) for review to other bloggers in your niche.
Just about anything you can do with a physical product you can do to promote your digital product, including advertising, giveaways and sales.
But the Holy Grail of digital publishing is affiliate marketing. Now, no squirming at that term. Affiliate marketing is a natural, profitable and intuitive way to sell your new product.
Affiliate marketing is the means by which your friends, customers and colleagues promote your product for you and receive a cut of each sale they generate. It’s really no different than selling a physical product at wholesale. If you go with a service like e-Junkie to sell your product, you can set up your affiliate program in just a couple of clicks. Each affiliate will also sign up through your service and will receive a unique tracking link to use when they promote the product.
You should supply them with banners and ideas for promoting the product. You might offer to do interviews, send them a sample, or answer related questions about your product.
With affiliate marketing, you have the opportunity to activate a whole sales force around your products. You’ll reap the benefits while helping to support other business owners at the same time.
So Do It Already! Still here? It’s time to start creating your first digital product. Whether it’s the premium e course you’ve been dying to create or a free e book you’ll use to start building your email list, the only way to get the rewards of developing a product is to just do it.
Your first offering may not feature the latest in ebook design or the freshest multimedia but working through the process of brainstorming, development and launch will help you become more comfortable with creating products. As with anything, the more you do it, the better you’ll become.
Creating digital products isn’t just the latest craze; it’s the perfect way to build a more sustainable business, a broader customer base and greater authority as a business owner.