Expanding your horizons from blogging to creating your own digital products sounds like a really big undertaking. That’s because it is. Just thinking where to start is daunting in itself. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll give you the lowdown on how to make digital products so you can start creating your digital product and profit!
First, let’s explore why digital products are worth making. As I’ve mentioned before, creating them is simple but not easy. By this time, you already have decent traffic on your site, people like your content and share it, and you have an email list. I mean, why go through all that trouble of making a digital product?
YOU made it, YOU own it, YOU get all the profits. No one else gets a cut of your hard-earned money. No legal stuff to think about.
You get to decide what the product includes and what it doesn’t. You get to decide how it looks and how it’s presented. Most of all, you get to decide when it’s time to update it or when it’s time to retire the product and make a new one. You don’t need to please anyone other than your customers and yourself.
Instead of spending hours working for a client and being paid just for that time, you can invest that valuable time into creating digital products that you can get paid for over and over again, long after you’ve actually created them.
Unlike physical products, you can easily update your digital products whenever there is new information or something you want to add.
I really wanted to say “no cost,” but that would disregard the time and resources you’ll actually need. Some resources aren’t free, and of course your time isn’t free. But the cash you’ll have to shell out is minimal compared to making physical products. No manufacturing costs, no distribution costs, no renting out spaces for you to sell out of.
Having your own line of products increases your authority in your niche and does wonders for your reputation. More authority likely increases traffic to your blog, which you can leverage to sell even more products.
All good reasons, yes?
Great. Let’s start the process!
Notice how I said “process.”
Stay with me, okay?
First, you need to think about what the possibilities are. I’ve listed down some products previously, but let me discuss them with a little more detail.
People just can’t get enough ebooks on their e-reader, tablets, or even smartphones. Information that you can access it whenever, wherever is just irresistible.
It doesn’t even have to be a traditionally long ebook to be valuable. It depends on your niche, but concise manuals, reports, case studies, white papers, checklists, anything that is informative is always valuable to the right reader. So if you’re blogging in a profitable niche, you should already have a head start in knowing what types of information are important to your audience.
Video is a great way to teach more complicated topics than can be presented in an ebook, particularly those topics where you need to show instead of tell. More importantly, they allow you to connect with your audience on a different level.
Let’s differentiate webinars from ecourses. Webinars are done live on a previously scheduled time, while ecourses are pre-recorded, on-demand training courses. Of course, you can compile webinars on related topics and bundle them as an ecourse later (just don’t forget to press “Record”!) This should go without saying, but the slides should be part of the package when you offer your buyers an ecourse.
Audio courses have traditionally been used for teaching languages. Remember those “Learn French in 5 Days!” cassette tapes? Nowadays, you can make an audio course about almost anything (and yes, digital audio courses that teach a language are still very much around).
This is also a good add-on later if you’re already planning to create an ebook or a video course. You can convert your ebook into an audiobook, or your webinars into audio files that you can also sell.
If you’re a graphic designer, this is probably a great fit for you. People are always looking for beautiful graphics they can use for their blogs, for their corporate presentations, or just for their own projects. Just to give you an idea of the possibilities:
Because more and more video presentations are now being produced, the demand for digital music that can be used for them is also on the rise. Everyone from YouTube vloggers to corporate video producers are looking for appropriate audio they can use as background music. Free is an option for them, of course, but most professionals are willing to pay a bit more for background music that’s flawlessly produced and fits their content.
If you’re a singer who can write and self-produce your songs, you might want to take it up a notch and sell your songs in a digital album format. You’ll need a loyal following to earn a substantial amount of money here, just like any musician. The difference is, if you know how to publish your songs yourself, you won’t need to share your profit with a music publisher.
High-resolution photographs are also in demand these days from bloggers of all niches looking for stock photos and images to use in their blog posts as visual elements.
If you’re taking pictures of the usual elements, It’s difficult to stand out from the crowd, as millions of photos are flooding the online market. However, if you feel there’s a dearth of stock photos in your specific niche, you can go this route and be the one to provide this need.
Just reading through the options is overwhelming. How do you know which product you should make? Here are some guidelines to help you decide.
Because your customers are the ones who’ll spend money on your product, it makes sense to find out what problems they need solutions to. In short, what do your customers want? Flex your fingers, activate your research mojo and find these out:
You want to know what your readers want?
Going straight to the source is seriously effective. How to ask them? You can create a blog post, a social media post, or compose an email to your email list. More often than not, your readers are more than willing to share with you what’s on their mind.
If you want to motivate them to answer, you can try to “bribe” them with a freebie. You can even offer to send them a preview of the product, or a chance to be part of your beta test group, or a special discount coupon for your product. Be creative! It’s a good chance to drum up interest in your product before you even make it.
Don’t know what to ask? Here are some ideas.
Some (or a lot) of your readers will state lack of time, lack of money, or being overwhelmed as pain points. Everyone has those barriers to action. Those aren’t problems you can solve. When people state those as their biggest barriers, there’s always an underlying reason. If you find that almost all of the answers to your question are pertaining to these vague ideas, you’ll need to go back and be specific.
The most important thing with your research is to act on what you find out.
Consider talking to one or two of your readers one-on-one. It’s better if these are readers that long-time subscribers or readers that seem more engaged than others. These are the readers who are more likely to open up to you more and express their problems to you.
After you’ve found out what your audience wants, it’s time to brainstorm ideas to solve one of their challenges. Just one. Even superheroes save the day one day at a time.
At this initial stage, just let the ideas flow. Write them all down. Nothing is too far-out or idiotic at this point. Just write them down. Sleep on it a bit and then come back to it later. One idea can lead to another, or combine, or split further.
Look inward. What existing assets do you have that could be transformed into digital products? What did you have to learn on your own that you’re now an expert at that you could teach it? What did someone teach you that you could now train someone to do?
Do some keyword research. Find out what keywords your readers and your target audience are likely to type in their “Search” box for them to find a solution to their problems. You need to get inside their head and think how they think.
Learn from other products. Find other successful products in your niche and learn as much as you can. DON’T COPY THEM. See what challenges they are addressing, what they promise to deliver (and if they do deliver), and if their price is reasonable. Learn from their product as much as you can, but again, DON’T COPY THEM. You want to make your own product, not a knock-off of someone else’s.
Remember, the best product idea is not what you find valuable or what you think is the most profitable. The best product idea is the best solution your customer will find valuable and what your customer will pay for.
It seems a little late in the game to prepare yourself to create the product. You’ve done the legwork and now you need to prepare?
Think about it, though. Going into it, you didn’t even know what product you wanted to create. Am I right?
Now that you’ve done the asking and the research and the poking and prodding and the brainstorming, you now have a much better idea what you’re going into. It’s the best time to prepare yourself, actually.
It’s important at this point, and actually, throughout the entire creation process, to always be honest with yourself.
What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? Are you able to handle constructive (and not-so-constructive) criticism?
Do you have the necessary expertise needed to create a high-quality product? Do you have the soft skills and technical skills needed? If not, what are the alternatives? Can you learn the skills in a reasonable amount of time? Or can you hire somebody to do it? Can you afford to?
Does your product idea fit your personality? If your research says that your customers would like to see more of you conducting a webinar, would you be able to do it? Will you be comfortable speaking live to people you don’t know? If you’re too scared, is there an alternative solution or a compromise?
Don’t deny what you’re good at and what you’re lousy at.
You’ll need to think forward. Can you deal with promoting this product as long as you need to? Will you be able to update the product as needed? Or are you the type of person that wants to do a project and then be done with it?
So many questions at this point, but trust me, it’s better to ask these questions now instead of deep in your creation process.
Now that you’re ready to make an awesome product for your customers, it’s now time to do some planning!
Okay, but what is a value proposition?
Simply, it’s a statement that contains the following points:
For a specific example, say you want to make a stock photo pack of people playing basketball. The problem statement could go:
“I am a life coach and blogger who also happens to like basketball. Most of my advice and metaphors borrow heavily from basketball terms, and I want to include images of real, everyday people actually playing basketball in my blog posts for more visual impact. These photos could also go in my landing pages and my emails to my subscribers.
However, I’ve noticed that there is a shortage of beautiful photos of people playing basketball. Of course, images of professional basketball players are available, but they’re almost always expensive and it distracts from my content.”
Your solution statement could go:
“I have a 50-photo pack for you. These are artistic shots of actual people playing basketball shot in stunning HD and available in different file sizes so you can use them wherever you want–from your blog posts to your landing pages, even on your homepage.”
Your support statement could go:
“The shots are varied, of both male and female players, at different points of a usual basketball game. Even the angles are varied, as they’re shot from different places on the court.”
The most important statement here is the value statement. This is where you get your customers go from “I like your product” to “I’m buying it.”
It needs to answer: What can’t your customers do now that they’ll be able to do once they buy your product?
Your value statement could go:
“Now, you have a collection of basketball-themed photos right at your fingertips. You don’t have to spend hours sifting through thousands of photos, searching for that perfect image, and buying them individually. Get them all here.”
Why do you need to do this?
Sometimes you get so caught up in the idea of selling something, especially if this is your first product. There will be a point in the creation process that you’ll forget why you’re doing it and who you’re doing it for.
If you feel your focus drifting, go back to your value proposition. Make it your desktop photo or write it down on a sticky note and place it where you can quickly go back to it.
The next step in the planning process is to validate your idea. This means making sure that your audience will, in fact, buy your digital product. Doing this step will prevent the unnecessary costs and disappointment in making a product no one wants.
It’s important that these potential buyers are people you trust. They’ll most likely be most avid, engaged readers of your blog. Individually message at least 3 of them with your value proposition and ask them what they think. Be open to their criticism, if any, and adjust your idea accordingly.
The objective is two-fold: create buzz for your product and gauge audience reaction.
You can start with some blog posts around your product that will introduce it to your readers and incite curiosity.
Bonus: you can take the questions and comments about the product and use them to improve your product idea.
You can also run some ads, but that will cost some money initially, and you’d want to minimize the early costs so that you have some budget later for ads for your actual, finished product.
A minimum viable product doesn’t mean a half-finished product. It means a complete product that is a fraction of the scale of the digital product you’re creating. A great way to envision this is through the cake model.
For example, if you’re planning to release an entire album of digital background songs, you can produce one song first. Or if you’re planning to sell an ebook, write a summary of it first. A single chapter may not be very desirable because it seems incomplete, even if it’s a great resource. A summary has a more comprehensive thought and concept and may be more attractive to potential customers.
It seems foolish to jump the gun and create a sales page for something that doesn’t even exist yet.
But hear me out.
What you want to sell here is your free minimum viable product plus an exclusive slot on the waiting list for the complete product. You can even offer an additional discount to those who will take the trouble to fill out a feedback form about the minimum viable product you’re giving out. Again, make sure to take the feedback constructively and use it to build a better, more useful product.
Plus, you’ll need the sales page later anyway when you officially launch the product, so that’s one item to be ticked off your list of things to do. Of course, you’ll have to edit the copy and the call to action later, but having it set up is still some load off your shoulders.
Promote the sales page on your blog, along with the blog posts you create about your product. Promote it as well on social media. You’ll have an idea of how many readers are actually interested in your product by how many people will leave their email addresses on your form.
If it pans out, then GREAT! You can now start to really get into producing it. If not, then it’s back to the drawing board. And that’s okay. At least the people who’ve left their email addresses still have your minimum viable product that’s useful to them, but then you haven’t wasted a lot of time, money, and other resources to create a full-fledged product that won’t sell. You just need to explain why you’re not pushing through with the product to the ones who actually signed up for the waiting list.
It’s worth mentioning that I’m not a fan of creating a fake sales page. Some experts or influencers would advise you to create a sales page that sells your nonexistent product and makes you click a “Buy Now” button that leads to an explanation that the product is still under construction. Some even advise taking a small payment for it (just a fraction, but still something), and when it doesn’t gain traction then you can just return the money and call it a day.
It’s not really illegal because you’re returning the money, but even if you don’t take a payment for it, it’s misleading to put “Buy Now” in your CTA when it’s clearly not available to purchase. I just think there are always other approaches to measure actual demand for the product without misleading readers and breaking their trust.
Identify and gather the tools and resources you’ll need to create your digital product. Different products, of course, will warrant different resources. Some ideas of the resources needed for various digital products are listed below.
Note: The above list is by no means a comprehensive list; my goal is just to acquaint you with the possibilities and give you an idea of the resources you’ll need and the cost they entail, as some of the above tools are paid. None of the above links are affiliate links.
Once you have an idea of the resources you’ll need, outline the key stages of creating your product.
For example, when creating an ebook, you’ll want to create a general table of contents first, with the introduction, chapter titles, and the conclusion. After that, it’s writing the chapters themselves. Then, designing/placing the illustrations in the text. Then, thinking of a title. Then, designing/creating the book cover. Lastly, converting the ebook into a pdf file and securing it so that it doesn’t get pirated.
Whatever you end up doing, make sure you outline the stages of production so you’ll have definite milestones to measure your progress against. Some tools you can use to manage your product creation process are Trello, Asana, and Podio.
Given all of the information above, like the resources you’ll need, the costs they’ll entail, and the stages or milestones you’ll need to achieve, you’ll need to plan your launch date around all of that so you don’t get too overwhelmed when actually creating the product.
You’ll need to allow for some flexibility, especially if running your blog already feels like a full-time job. The trick here is to carve out time for it so you’ll get things done without being too overwhelmed. This does depend on your working style.
For example, for some people, setting aside one extra hour on the weekdays to write doesn’t sound so bad compared to blocking off 5 hours to work on it on a weekend. But if you’re the type of person who works better in large chunks of time rather than spread out, the latter schedule may be a better idea.
Always keep your working style in mind when you’re planning the stages and the timelines of your work.
Considering the resources, cost, skills, and time involved in making digital products, you’d certainly want to price them fairly.
The selling prices of digital media (web elements, graphic elements, digital music, stock photos), can vary widely depending on the third-party site selling them. For instance, a cursory look at the WordPress themes for sale in ThemeForest would reveal that the price of a theme can go anywhere from $29 to $99, depending on factors such as quality, usability, and inclusions, etc. For digital music, the standard price is $1 per single and $10 per album, based on iTunes prices. Stock photos have the widest price variety per site, as again it depends on the quality of the photo, aesthetics, subject, etc.
For information products, however, the best way to price your product is to use a value-based approach. This simply means to come up with a price that your customers will gladly pay for your product.
The questions you’ll need to ask are: How valuable is your product to your customers? How much will your customer earn or gain when they buy your product? How much are your knowledge and expertise worth?
For example, you offer your customer an ebook worth $100 that will teach them the basic skills to produce their own line of organic personal care products (soap, body wash, bath bubbles, bath salts, shampoo, body lotion) that can earn them at least $10,000 a year. Do you think this is a fair price for your ebook? I wouldn’t say so. I’d say it’s worth at least $500, even $1000.
Don’t be afraid to put a premium price on a premium product. You might think that lowering the price of a premium product will get you more customers, and that’s true to some extent. But if you overdeliver on a product with a low price, you’ll get almost nothing for the considerable effort you exerted to create that product. You might even resent the process and swear off creating products forever (okay, maybe not that dramatic).
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to put a low price on a budget product. Promising great things and underdelivering on a product with a high price point will give you high profits in the short term, but a lot of customer resentment in the long term. Customer resentment equals decreased trust, and no trust equals no customers.
Bottom line: The price of your product should depend on the promise.
Flex your fingers (and toes?) because it’s finally time to start creating!
Here are some general guidelines on how to make digital products. Note that you don’t have to follow the steps exactly as they’re laid out here. Flip them around or skip some steps if you want to. Do whatever method works for you.
I’ve also included some ways to repurpose your existing content. This is not to pressure you at all to make as many digital products as you can. I just want to give you an idea of the possibilities. It may not make sense to create so many products now, but later on, as your customers’ needs change and evolve, you might look into repurposing your older content.
Review your value proposition and work backward. What is the ultimate goal of your ebook? What steps do customers need to take to achieve it? What resources/tools do they need to take these steps.Organize your material into a table of contents.
Take the content above and arrange it into a table of contents, complete with an introduction and a summary/conclusion.
Start writing chapter by chapter. Write simply and clearly. Let your personality shine through. The tips to write a blog post that I previously posted apply in writing your ebook as well.
Compelling visuals do a lot for your ebook. If you haven’t felt the need to pay for stock photos, you might want to do that when creating your ebook so that the images don’t look like every other photo out there. If you’re a decent photographer with a digital SLR, you might even want to take the photos yourself, so that you’re sure that they’re unique and entirely yours.
Take the opportunity to place relevant calls to action (CTAs) and links in front of them. These could be CTAs to read related posts on your blog, to join your mailing list (if they haven’t already), or even to be part of the waiting list for your next ebook.
Don’t just use the first title you think of. Give it as much (if not more) thought as one of your blog post titles. Write out a huge list of potential titles; from the silly, to the serious, to the clickbait-y, to the intellectually inclined. Having lots of choices will ensure that you’ll have at least one title that’s good enough. You can use headline analyzers to score your titles (check out Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer) so you can choose the right title.
It’s easy to say you can do this yourself, but believe me, you are too close to the project. You will miss some details (even if you’re a proofreader by profession). Have another person, preferably an actual proofreader, do it.
There are numerous free and paid ebook templates available for download. Alternatively, if you have an eye for design, you can put it together yourself. Keep the look and feel as close to your blog as possible so that there’s no disconnect between your blog and your product.
I kept this separate from the design of the contents because this step is usually best left to designers. Your book cover is crucial because it’s the first, and sometimes only, impression of your ebook. It doesn’t matter how awesome the content is if no one takes a second glance because your book cover sucks.
If you must convert your ebook to only one format, let it be PDF because it’s the format universally read by smartphones, tablets, laptops, and ereaders. Plus, you don’t have to think about the formatting too much. If you feel you must convert to EPUB or MOBI (Kindle-exclusive format), you can use conversion software to do this (you can check out Calibre for starters).
After you’ve converted your ebook, you’ll want to make sure that it looks good in any device. Automatic conversions are not perfect, and these imperfections may range from slightly annoying to entirely unreadable. Open your converted files in different devices and ereaders and check if your book cover looks good, if your table of contents are working, if your images display properly, and if all the pages are there. If you want to skip this step, you can hire a professional to make sure your ebook looks good in all three formats.
Ebooks are normally small enough such that they’re okay to be stored where you’re hosting your blog. But if you’re planning to expand your selection, you can use Amazon S3.
Begin with your value proposition and work backward. What is the ultimate goal of your ecourse? What will your customer need to achieve this goal, and what steps will they need to take?
Take the content above and organize it into a course outline. You can begin with a short introduction to the course and end with a course summary round things out.
Jump in and start writing your lessons. As with an ebook, write simply and clearly. The tips to write a blog post that I previously posted also apply in writing your ecourse.
Take bite-sized pieces of your lesson content and place them in slides. Include visual elements in your slides (images, photos, artwork) to be more compelling, especially because this is a video. Have your slides proofread by someone else, preferably an actual proofreader.
Practice speaking straight to the camera if you plan to include yourself in the video. Be comfortable playing to an imaginary crowd while managing the presentation.
Record your screen while presenting your slides and talking over them. If you plan to record yourself on video, make sure you look presentable. Remember, people will be buying this and will have this video in their archives for a while, so you’ll want to look your very best.
If you only have to edit “uhms” and “ahhs,” you should be all set with the video editing software I enumerated in the previous section. If you’re not entirely confident in your video editing skills, you can have a video editor do this for you.
Go over it again and make sure that the quality is great and that there aren’t any more mistakes, especially on the slides.
Make sure access to it is restricted to the ones who paid for it.
You’ll want to bundle them with the video at some point, or maybe sell it as a standalone product, or maybe even give it away as an incentive for subscribing. So don’t make them accessible to everyone.
Start with your value proposition and work backward. What should your audience learn by the end of your webinar? How should you discuss it? Can you teach it all in an hour, or would you need to direct them to one of your blog posts or elsewhere?
The usual webinar structure is 5 minutes at the start for your introduction and story (i.e., how does this particular topic apply to you?), 10 minutes at the end for Q and A, and the bulk at the middle for your presentation (25 to 40 minutes). That middle part is the most important one to organize. Write a rough outline with headings, subheadings if necessary, and bullet points.
Some people like to wing it, but if this is your first time or if you have stage fright, it’s better to have a script ready in case you get lost.
Take the headings, subheadings, and lessons from your script and place them in slides. Incorporate visual elements in your slides (images, photos, artwork) to be more engaging.
Have your slides proofread by a professional, if possible. Just don’t be the one to do it because you’ll miss details.
The best time to bring this up is at the end of your main presentation, just before your Q and A session. Invite your audience to click on a link that you’re going to send them. That can be a link to one of your blog posts that helps comprehension of the webinar you just conducted. It can also be a link to subscribe to your mailing list, or a link to reserve a slot to the waiting list for your next webinar.
Live speaking is no joke; it’s a source of anxiety for many. Couple that with managing technical aspects like the camera, the microphone, the webinar software, the presentation slides, and this can be a disaster in the making. You also run the risk of going over your time limit, and some of your audience may have to go attend to other things, and they might not get the maximum benefit of your webinar.
Before you go live, make sure you practice with two or three friends or family members just to make sure you can manage everything without a hitch.
No too-loud colors, no over-the-top makeup, no stuff between your teeth. Nothing should distract your audience from the valuable information you’re imparting.
It’s another chance to connect to your audience, plus it’s a chance for you to ask feedback about the webinar.
Most webinar software have recording functions, but you’ll want to use your own video recording software. Why? The webinar software records the livestream that’s going out on the internet, which means there is a loss of quality. Your video recording software records right on your computer, giving you a higher quality recording.
Remove irrelevant parts of the webinar you conducted, such as if you gave instructions or remarks that are specific to the live audience, or if you got interrupted by a technical glitch.
You’ll want to provide the slides so that it’s a complete package. Depending on how you conducted your webinar, some of the slides may have too little information on them. Make sure that the slides have complete information.
You might want to include additional written content, like the notes you referred to during the webinar, or even the transcript of the whole webinar. If you do decide to include those, make sure you format and proofread them thoroughly, especially the transcript. It’s advisable to have someone else to transcribe your webinar.
Restrict access to it such that only the ones who paid can access it.
Restrict access to these materials as well. In the future, you’ll want to bundle them with the video, or maybe sell it as a standalone product, or maybe even give it away as an incentive for subscribing.
Go back to your value proposition. What should your listeners learn by the end of your audio course? What concepts do they need to learn along the way? What resources do they need?
Take what you’ve written above and organize it into an outline. At this point, it doesn’t have to be rigidly structured, just arranged in such a way that the discussion flows naturally and doesn’t feel disjointed.
Start writing your script. You don’t have to strictly adhere to this, but it’ll help you stick to the topic at hand and not go off on a tangent.
Read your script out loud a few times while recording yourself. This way you can check your tone, speed, and whether you stumble on certain words or phrases.
Bring out the microphone and your audio recording software and start recording. Don’t worry too much if you stumble or make mistakes as they can be edited out later. What’s important is you speak clearly and at a steady pace (around 130 to 180 words a minute should be okay).
Remove any mistakes, adjust any unclear parts, and eliminate any background noise. If you want a flawless audio file, hire a sound editor to do it. Otherwise, most audio software will allow simple edits to audio files.
If you’re not an experienced transcriber, it’s better to hire one. Make sure to go through the transcript to make sure there aren’t any errors. Finally, format the transcript so that it looks professional.
Secure your file so that only those who paid for it gain access.
Restrict access to the transcript as well.
Chances are you’ve already forgotten what you’ve written. Read it again to familiarize yourself.
Read your ebook out loud a few times while recording yourself. Check your tone, speed, and any difficult words or phrases that you might stumble on.
Get out your microphone and your audio recording software, then start recording. Don’t agonize if you falter or get some words wrong. Pick up where you left off and edit out the mistake later. It’s more important that you speak clearly and steadily (around 130 to 180 words a minute should be okay).
Remove any mistakes, adjust the sound quality, and erase any background noise. If you want a flawless audio file, it might be a good idea to hire a sound editor to do it. Otherwise, most audio software will allow simple edits to audio files.
Restrict access to the file so that only those who bought it will have access.
As I mentioned above, you’ll want to use your own video recording software because the webinar software records the livestream that’s going out on the internet, with a loss of quality as a result. By contrast, your video recording software records right on your computer, giving you a higher quality recording.
Check to see if your video recording software provides this function. If not, you may have to hire someone with the technical skills to do this correctly.
It’s advisable to hire a sound editor to do this if you’re not sure what to do. Normally, background noise should be removed, and the sound quality optimized so that all the words sound clear. Also, you’ll want to remove parts that were only relevant to your live audience.
If you haven’t already done it for the video file, have the audio file transcribed. You’ll want to bundle the transcript along with the audio file, so have it transcribed by someone who is experienced. Go through it again to check for errors and ensure that the format looks polished.
Ensure that access to your file is restricted to only those who paid for it.
Secure the transcript as well so that only customers who paid can access it.
I’m not a graphic designer or web designer, a musician, or a photographer by any means, so this is beyond the scope of what I can guide you with. However, Envato Tuts+ offers a comprehensive collection of how-to tutorials for graphic design and illustration, web design, photography, as well as music and audio.
If you’re a budding musician, you may also benefit from this site: E-Home Recording Studio. They offer tutorials, courses, and even ebooks about setting up a home studio and recording.
Refer back to your value proposition from time to time. When you feel fatigued, exhausted, burnt out; remind yourself why you’re doing this. When you begin to doubt that your product will sell, go back to your waiting list and remind yourself that people are counting on this product to come out.
I already touched on this a little bit when I discussed planning. For each stage, you want to hit a minimum output. For example, when you write your ebook, you might want to target writing at least 500 words a day. It doesn’t matter if the words don’t make sense or they don’t make it to your final product. Aim to build a habit of creating a little at a time until creating becomes a given and you can’t go a day without making something.
Although there isn’t a 100% foolproof method to protect your digital products, at least make it extremely difficult for people to steal your work. This is too broad a topic to discuss here, but some useful articles you can read are here and here.
I talked a lot about hiring other people to do other tasks that you may not be an expert at. Choose carefully who you outsource to because it’s your name attached to the product and your reputation on the line. Don’t settle for the least costly option or a random name you found on Upwork. Take the time to review their work and interview them to make sure they are a great fit for you. Explain the task carefully and leave absolutely no room for misunderstanding so that they know early on what you want to achieve and whether they can do it or not.
You’ve finished making your digital product!
Or are you?
Nope. Not by a long shot. Now it’s time to go on review mode, i.e., objectively looking at what you did.
But how can you be objective about a product that you created?
Here’s where customer feedback comes in. Basically, you’ll need to collect feedback, analyze it, and then act on it. Below are some guidelines on each stage.
If you followed my earlier advice and offered some of your readers a chance to preview a pilot or beta version of your product, now’s the time to make good on that offer. Let them have a look at the first version of your finished product and ask them for honest feedback.
Asking the right questions is crucial, so here are some questions to get you started.
Questions to ask:
Answers to this question will give you insight on what’s working with your product. They’ll also help reveal what your customers value.
If you selected your test group right, it should be composed of your oldest subscribers; the ones who’ve been with you the longest. They’ll tend to be more honest with you, so steel yourself for that honesty. When reading this part, always remind yourself to not take it personally. Your readers, for the most part, want to see you succeed, and if honest feedback will help, they’ll give you honest feedback even though you might not like it very much.
The simple “yes/no” answer is helpful in overall statistics (think “7 out of 10 users found this product helpful”), but the “why” is more important when tweaking your product.
When a customer recommends a product to someone else, it’s their integrity on the line. They might find it helpful for themselves, but they wouldn’t recommend it unless they feel strongly about the benefits of the product.
This question is not an afterthought. It’s a cue for them to tell you what they think about the product that may not be covered by the questions you posed. This is also their chance to ask you questions about the product that they may be curious about. Their questions and suggestions might just surprise you.
Don’t be overbearing at this point. Five questions should be enough for your test group to answer thoroughly. Any more and they might give incomplete answers or worse, abandon the questionnaire completely.
Bonus: Asking your audience to test out the product also gives you the chance to get testimonials if your product does work. These testimonials will come in handy later when you go on to market your product.
Time to read all of the feedback you were given. If your test group is small (20 or less), you can sort through the feedback and identify the trends and outliers yourself. Consider automating this later on when you’re selling more of your product.
Look at the data you’ve collected and let that be the basis of your next steps. Is the feedback mostly positive? Negative? Did they generally find the product useful but just don’t like the design? Or they liked the design but thought it’s not what they need at this time?
Is something unclear or you’ll need more details to be able to relate? Politely reply to their email saying so. You can even suggest a one-on-one conversation through Skype or Google Hangouts if they seem to be open to it.
There will be the odd one out. You know, that one customer who has a wildly different opinion compared to everyone else. In this case, investigate. Reply to their email and get more specifics and details. Maybe the root cause isn’t that different from everyone else’s feedback, but if it really is, then try to decide if there’s any merit to it and if it’s worth applying to your product.
Summarize the actionable feedback as best as you can and refer to it while you’re polishing your product.
You have all this precious feedback and suggestions, now act on them!
It’s sometimes difficult to act on a suggestion when you don’t agree with your customers. When you find yourself hesitating to apply those suggestions, ask yourself who you’re doing it for. Remember, your customers know what they want better than you do.
It sounds simple enough, but a feedback loop is important not only for your product life cycle but also for maintaining great relationships with your customers. Here are some reminders when going through a feedback loop.
You can use third-party services (like Google Forms or Survey Monkey) to have a central location for your survey questions and answers, and you only have to email your test group the link to answer the questions.
Yeah, don’t do that. (Unless your test group is in the hundreds, and I really don’t recommend getting that many people in a test group.)
Send them emails personally. Getting an email from you addressing them directly will make them feel valuable to your creative process and to the product you’re creating. They’ll be more motivated to answer your questions thoroughly and really think about how to improve your product.
Once they’ve provided their feedback, answer their emails promptly. Their time is important, and you need to make them see that you see it that way, too.
There may be some in your test group who won’t respond. Be patient with them; life may have gotten in the way.
But don’t be afraid to politely follow up with them. Express how excited you are to hear from them so they can be persuaded to reply. It can go one of three ways: they can answer your questions (most useful), they can reply saying they haven’t looked at your product and have no plans to (still useful if unexpected), or they can ignore your email again. Whichever way it goes, one follow up is enough. Their reply (or lack thereof) says volumes.
You’ll get some negative feedback, sure. Even some cold shoulders (see above).
Don’t take it personally. Always assume that they have the best intentions, and always be grateful for their time. Bear this in mind always whenever you reply to their feedback, request for more details on something they said (positive or negative), or asking for their advice on how you can improve the product. Give the impression that you are open to feedback so they’ll tell you what you want to know.
If you did take your customer’s suggestions and advice and applied them to the product, they’ll want to know about it. Update that person (or persons) who gave you that advice and show that you’re taking them seriously and working on the product with their comments in mind.
Make them feel that their time and effort to review your product and give you honest feedback are greatly appreciated. Whether they liked the product or not, whether they offered great advice or just generic answers, give them a thank-you gift for reviewing your product and answering your questions. It can be a greater discount to that product or just give the final product to them as a gift!
I gave you A LOT to think about, haven’t I?
Just to sum everything up:
Allow me to give some parting words before you go and create your product.
Your first product doesn’t have to be this all-in-one ecourse with the video, a transcript of the video, an ebook, a workbook, and a checklist. Sure, if your customers want it, but you don’t have to start with such a massive project. It’s easy to get lost in the technical aspects and forget your customer.
Sometimes, simple is the solution. Sometimes, compiling your best blog posts on a single topic, then updating and annotating them with some expert resources, then collecting them into an ebook is valuable enough for your audience.
It doesn’t have to be hard to create to be profitable. If your customers say it’s valuable, it’s valuable.
You might go 2 feedback–improvement cycles before you decide that your product is ready to sell. That’s okay.
But if you’ve gone through 10 cycles, and your customers are now wondering if you’re ever going to release your product, that can’t be good.
Your product will never be perfect. You will always want to change and add to it to make it better. But if you get on that ride, it’ll never end.
You’ll never finish your product if you aim for absolute perfection.
Once you get to a point where you’re getting mostly positive reviews from your test group (if you listen closely to your customers’ feedback, this should take just 2 or 3 cycles), and you’ve proofread and polished your product such that there aren’t any obvious mistakes, STOP. You’re done. Move on to the next step (that’s in my next article, so watch out for that! UPDATE: The next step is here).
Creating something requires a significant commitment from you. At times, you’ll be tempted to just give up and run AdSense and call it a day.
When that happens, take a break. Go outside, see the sun.
And then remember who you’re doing it for.
Of course, you’re doing it to make some money, who are we kidding?
But more importantly, you’re creating your product to help other people.
So get back there and do it.
The thought of making a product that sells widely can get you excited. Which is normal!
Don’t let it consume you, though.
There is a chance, however small, that your product just isn’t going to be successful. Such is the life of an entrepreneur. Only extremely lucky ones get it right the first time. And oftentimes, their succeeding projects don’t match up to that first success. But they keep at it anyway.
The danger of being too emotionally invested in your product is that you equate its success or failure to your success or failure as an entrepreneur. Or worse, as a person. If your product doesn’t interest people enough, you think you’re a failure.
The thing is, it isn’t true at all. It’s unhealthy for you to be even thinking that way. It’s just the wrong product, or the right product at the wrong time. That’s okay. Allow yourself to make mistakes so you can learn from them and go on creating something else.
Commit yourself to your product, but don’t equate it to your self-worth.
At every stage in your creation process, always go back to your customers. Once they buy your product, what will they be able to do? What can they achieve with it that they couldn’t before?
Answering those questions should always be your focus because that is the product that will sell. That is the product that will add to their lives and help them create a better version of themselves.
That is the product that your customers will pay for. So give it to them.
You can only read so many words. Now start creating!
Planning to create your own digital product? Did this article help you in any way? Or have you created your digital product? What did you wish you knew when you started out? Share your experiences in the comments below!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.