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.