I went through a ton of emotional exhaustion when I made my first digital product. Now I want to share my experience with you, so you can learn how to create a product yourself. Because it is worth it.
My First Digital Product
Feelings of hopelessness…
The agony that this monster I was creating just never seemed to get done.
My first product took an enormous amount of emotional toil to create.
By the end of it, I vowed never to create a course again.
I’ve made every single possible mistake when it comes to creating digital products because I decided to follow the crowd.
It seems everyone was telling me I needed to create a 5 module course…
And it had to be a premium product because if it’s not, I must be crazy to undervalue myself.
So I did just that.
Over time I realized that a lot of what I experienced was because of misinformation and assumptions about what my first product has to be…about what launching was about…about sales and about buyer psychology.
This post is what I wish someone had told me when I created my first product.
Imagine us having coffee to talk about creating digital products and launching stuff.
This is everything I would tell you.
This isn’t a step-by-step blueprint in any way. But rather factors you need to keep in mind before launching yours.
Because beyond the hype of how ‘passive’ info products are, there are lots of things to consider before you launch one.
If you’re ready to create a small product that actually sells, sign up for the VIP list of Product in 7. This one of a kind templatized system shows you EXACTLY what you need to do every step of the way so that you can add an income stream to your business QUICKLY.
Your Offer Matters
I wish someone had told me that to create a product I have to have a fantastic offer.
#1 Product and offer are two different entities
You can have a great product but a terrible offer.
Positioning is part of the offer of a product.
- What outcome do you promise
- What urgency factors are you using
- What bonuses do you use?
- How about the price point?
A mattress can be positioned as something to help you get a comfortable good night’s sleep or to help you improve your posture.
Same mattress, 2 different ways of positioning.
What positioning will be most attractive to your audience? What outcome will they pay for? What’s that unique X that a customer can get from your product that they can’t get elsewhere?
All of these form your offer.You can have a great product but a terrible offerClick To Tweet
You may not always nail your offer the first time. That doesn’t necessarily mean that people don’t want your product or don’t like it.
It’s probably because their state of ‘want’ doesn’t yet align with your offer. This leads to the next point.
#2 People will tell you they want it but they won’t buy it
And this happens more often than you think it does.
The route someone takes to a sale is not always linear. Rather it’s one big scribble.
People aren’t always ready to buy the first time you launch.
This doesn’t mean that they’re never interested.
It just means that now’s probably not the time. This could be due to a lot of different factors which are out of your control.
It’s interesting to reference a study boy Everett Rogers. His research states that people fall into 5 different personality types when it comes to taking up any new innovation.
- Early Adopters
- Early Majority
- Late Majority
While this study refers to technology, you can see how it could relate to digital products.
There are people who will jump at the opportunity to buy a product that’s pre-selling and there are those who simply won’t. (I’m the latter)
Having this mindset changed the way I viewed my launches and products.
Your offer isn’t necessarily broken. So breathe.
#3 Don’t trash your offer (yet) for new ones
You will feel tempted to throw your offer away and create new products especially if your offer didn’t get you the results that you want.
But the last thing you should do is rebound and start creating new products.
What about the offer isn’t working? It takes time to test things out.
In this post, Digital Marketing Strategist Tara Gentile says that you need at least 3 iterations of an idea before you scrap it or pivot.
#4 People pay for outcomes (fortunately or unfortunately)
I’m not a fan of time-led and quantifiable promises because everyone has different styles of grasping and implementing information learned in courses.
But an outcome led product sells better.
What result can people expect if they buy and implement what you’re selling?
Having a ‘promise’ gives your digital product some tangibility.
It’s easier for a reader to grasp what your course hopes to deliver.
#5 Not all outcomes are equal
Some results are viewed more favorably by readers.
These are promises related to:
- Losing weight
#6 Marketing starts in the product creation phase
Most of us view marketing and product creation as two separate things.
But they’re not. I’ve made this mistake too.
Marketing has to be baked into the product creation process. the earlier you think about it, the more successful your offer will be.Marketing has to be baked into the product creation processClick To Tweet
#7 Name should be clear, not clever
Remember Jason Fried’s quote?
Be clear first and clever second. If you have to throw one of those out, throw out clever.
Your audience should know what your product is about from the name.
So skip the exotic names.
#8 It will kill you to create that bonus, but do it anyway
There are people who will buy a product for its bonus.
The juicier your bonus, the more attractive your product looks. The bonus does make up the offer and what people take into consideration even if they tell you they don’t.
#9 Your first product does not have to be a course
Here’s exactly what I said in this post: Your first product, does not and dare I say should not be a premium product that sells at $200+ especially if you’re new to digital products and just growing your audience.
There are lots of products that are not courses and still make bank. These are:
- Masterclass or workshop (1-2 hours live or recorded)
- Mini-course (3 modules max with video and/or worksheets)
- Webinar recording
- Email course
- Spreadsheets/Tracking Sheets
You’ll feel more confident getting a small product out fast and start to earn an income than sit for weeks or months creating a course that may never see the light of day.
#10 You don’t have to wait for a magical number to create your first
So what’s the magical number of subscribers or page views to have before you create your first info product?
There isn’t any.
You do however need to have a small following and meet one important condition: Trust with your subscribers
This takes time to build because they need to see you as someone who provides value. You don’t need to be an ‘expert’ but you do need to be someone who can help them. And you need to give to your community first before selling.
Just as you can have thousands of page views with a very small number of subscribers….
…you can have lots of subscribers and still not sell well if you don’t have a solid relationship with them.
#11 How do you know what to create?
The product you create has to hit at a problem.
It also has to be a topic that you’re familiar with and enjoy talking about.
One way to validate your idea is to give away a freebie related to the problem your product is trying to solve.
When you give a short email course for free or a cheat sheet/workbook, you get to test the viability of your product idea depending on your audience’s reaction to it. You could also write a series of blog posts to gauge interest.
I ran a free email marketing course (currently rehashed as Email lists for newbies) about 3 months ago. I also did a series of posts to gauge how much of a struggle email was with bloggers and solopreneurs. I had lots of positive feedback from both before I decided to work on Email lists Simplified – The Complete A-Z Implementation plan to start, own and benefit from your email list in 60 days.
Another way to test your product idea is to pre-sell it.
Create Product Branding
The branding of your product is just as important as the product itself.
#12 Brand your product
Give your product a distinct look. This could be the logo, colors or imagery you use.
But make this consistent across all your promotional materials. This will give your product an identity and your readers will come to recognize it.
#13 You don’t need fancy graphics and high-end branding
You may be swayed into hiring a designer to do the branding for your products.
But trust me – you don’t need one. At least not in the beginning.
You can outsource the covers or logo to a freelancer but you don’t need to spend a couple hundred dollars on it.
Create A Product Pre-Launch
You can’t just create a product and launch it. You need to create hype and get people excited!
#14 Even a 3-part video series will fail if you don’t build hype
Hype is so important to a launch.
You need to tease your audience and get them excited about your product. Does this come easily? NO!
There is an art to doing the subtle tease. You need to tread carefully and balance not giving away too much and giving too little that they can’t connect you as being an expert on the topic of your product.
You can try different launch vehicles – challenges, email course, webinars, lives or 3-part video series.
But if the hype is the missing factor, you may end up with a lackluster launch.
#15 Competitors will release courses at the same time
It will seem as if the whole world is launching products around the same topic as you have.
Products similar to yours are proof that there is demand for such a product.
But it also means that you need to take more time with positioning your product. So take this as an opportunity to study their sales pages and offer. You’re not doing this to be better.
It’s about seeing how you can position your product and offer differently.
#14 Don’t call it a beta
I’m opening a can of worms here. Lots of people have differing opinions on this.
But if I could go back I won’t launch a beta version of my email course.
About half the people who bought the course at the beta price didn’t access the course at all.
So skip the beta and just launch it properly.
#16 When you think you’re getting in the face with too many emails, still do it
You will think you sent plenty of emails but people will still not see them.
10 emails or more during a launch? That’s completely normal.
#16 It’s ok to repeat the same message
You may feel like you’re saying the same thing over and over…within the same launch or across different launches of the same product.
When you repeat the message behind your product, it gets stronger. It also contributes to the branding of the product.
So it’s perfectly ok to repurpose your launch material.
#17 Software is the smallest of worries
Technology may seem like this huge daunting monster.
But the incidence of a launch failing due to technology? Very tiny.
You have bigger things to worry about and that you should worry about.
Technology isn’t one of them.
#18 Your pre-launch content can make or break your launch
Your pre-launch content is equally if not more important than your product itself.
The way you structure and frame your content…the way you nudge the reader right through cart open is critical.
I talk more about how you can create content that sells your products and services for you in my Amazon Bestselling book The One Hour Content Plan.
#19 Pre-Selling is just one option
Several gurus tout pre-selling as a must. This safeguards you from launching to crickets.
Pre-selling is just one way of kicking off your product launch. Your offer isn’t doomed if you don’t pre-sell it.
I’ve lived to tell. If you don’t feel comfortable pre-selling your offer, don’t do it.
Have a VIP list instead.
Open your cart to VIPs and give them an early bird price or incentive to purchase.
#20 Even 97 will be hard to sell
Sell 10 copies of a $97 product to make your first 1000. Seems simple enough right?
When you’re not yet adding double digits to your email list consistently, this will still be an uphill task. When you have more people entering your sequence or funnel, the higher your chances of making sales.
This will take some time to kick-in especially if you’re not paying for ads.
#21 People will try to cheat the system
There are people who will buy a product to ask for a refund.
I’ve had a person ask for a refund 3 minutes after their order came through citing the product lacked everything that it actually already has.
It’s not you. Really.
This leads to the next point…
#22 Have a refund policy
And then stick by your refund policy.
Like I mentioned above…a handful of people will try to cheat the system.
Be prepared for it and don’t let it ruin your day.
#23 The same product may sell better positioned differently
Weird but true.
A mattress can be positioned as something to help you get a comfortable good night’s sleep or to help you improve your posture.
Same mattress, 2 different ways of positioning.
What positioning will be most attractive to your audience? What outcome will they pay for?
#24 People need pressure to buy
We want to be adults and trust that people will buy something when they want it.
But that’s not always the case. People do need pressure to buy.
Be ethical when you use urgency. Don’t talk down to your audience and make them feel bad for not buying right now.
You may end up losing that person who was saving up to buy your product the next time it launches.
#25 Copy can make or break your sales
The best products can be ruined by terrible copy.
Here’s what will kill your sales: A lackluster sales page and emails that do nothing to convince your reader that they need your product
great copy can’t save a terrible product.
Every customer who gets a refund because they felt the product never delivered on its promise is one less brand advocate
#26 Payment plans work but may lead to more issues
Payment plans encourage more sales.
You may be tempted to break down your price into several small installments. But keep in mind that this can also lead to students missing payments and disappearing altogether.
Don’t break your installments into very tiny numbers. A product of less than $100 does not need an installment plan.
#27 You will NOT want to send that last email but you really should
You will think that your subscribers will get annoyed if you send that last email. You may even feel sleazy putting that offer in front of them so many times.
But there are always people who need that last reminder.
I’ve missed out on several sales because I didn’t send that last reminder. So don’t make the same mistake and stick to the plan.
#28 Don’t let numbers fool you
Numbers are important to test what you need to work on. Whether it’s your sales copy, product positioning or marketing…
That said, just taking the number of units sold doesn’t give you a full picture of what’s working and what isn’t. These are the numbers that you need to give you a complete picture and assessment of what’s going on with your product launch.
- The number of people who accessed your sales page (you can easily set-up a link trigger to tag the number of people who accessed your sales page in Convertkit. This was one of my main considerations for wanting to go with Convertkit as my email service provider
- Units sold
- Conversion rate
The average sales page conversion is about 5%.
If you sold 15 units of your ebook and you’re upset because of that number, don’t be (yet). If you have access to the number of people who accessed your sales page, have a look at that.
If 100 people accessed your sales page, and you’ve sold 15, your conversion rate is 15%. That is higher than the industry average of 5%.
So you need to work on getting more people to access your sales page and more people into your funnel.
If you have a low conversion rate on your sales page, then you likely need to work on your product positioning and sales page copy.
Viewing numbers in this way give you a complete picture as to what’s working and where the problem could be.
#29 It takes time to figure out pricing
Pricing is tricky.
What level of support are you providing buyers?
How big of a transformation does your product give?
The bigger the transformation and higher your level of support the higher a price you can justify.
#30 Always aim to exceed the value in people’s heads
People have a baseline expectation of price to value in their heads.
It’s not something they can necessarily articulate.
But they do know whether it’s met or not.
Whether you over or under deliver on what buyers think a $197 course is supposed to contain makes a huge difference to how they are going to feel about their buying decision.
When the value exceeds the price they paid for, you have a happy buyer and one who goes on to become a brand advocate.
If the price exceeds the value they think they received, you have a disappointed customer.
#31 Think of the path. ALWAYS think of the path
If you’re having an evergreen product – one with no specific open and close carts, you have to think about how new prospects will find your product.
How are you going to ensure a steady stream of eyeballs on your product apart from
1. bombarding anyone from your list who hasn’t bought the product and
2. promoting on Facebook groups.
Because your list will tire out after a certain time.
The easiest way is to create a solid opt-in freebie and promote it like any of your other freebies.
This freebie could be a splinter from your main product.
Or something that agitates the problem and hits at the pain point that your product is trying to solve.
Once someone opts into this, you can connect them to an email sequence which then leads to your paid product.
#32 You can’t create an info product at $0
There are upfront costs involved in creating your info product.
If you’re working on a video course you would need a screen recording software and a microphone in the least.
If you’re working on an ebook you need to think about outsourcing your cover or investing in software to do your own.
Depending on the platform you choose, you may also need to pay a monthly fee to host your course or ebook on the platform.
But these are tools that you would need in your toolkit, especially if you’re going to add info products to your revenue stream.
These are what I use:
Payment delivery gateways and to host your files
- Blue Yeti Microphone
- Google doc
The sooner you research the tools and platforms you need, the easier it will be to plan your time.
#33 It will take longer than you planned
On top of your regular blog publishing schedule and social media, creating an info product is a huge strain on your time.
As much as you plan, especially if it’s your first time, it will take longer than anticipated. There are lots of things that can set you back. Here are a few:
- Choosing what tools to use
- Choosing a platform to host and sell your product
- Writing your sales page
- Creating your sales page
- Editing videos
- Writing your email sequences
- Tech issues with uploading or exporting your videos
You may notice that you can’t keep up with social media scheduling or writing your own blog posts. The easiest way to deal with this is to be open to guest posts or rehash and update old pieces of content.
#34 Dealing with yourself as your harshest critique
You will fight yourself more than ever.
- Will this sell?
- Will people buy it?
- How do you gauge success?
- Should you wait longer to sell?
- Is it perfect?
All the questions are packaged in a single word.
That’s what it really is.
Asking for a sale is a whole different ball game from asking someone to subscribe to your email list or free email course. It’s a lot harder than pitching a podcast or guest post.
It’s easy to spiral down to stress point, but you need to remember that this happens to the best of us.
You’re first of many
Whether your product does well or it doesn’t, it’s important to remember that this will not be your last info product.
And because you have invested so much of your time and energy into it, your product becomes an extension of you.
But the further you put yourself from your product, the more objective you’ll be when it comes to analyzing what worked and what didn’t.
I believe very much in the concept of a minimum viable product, a product that’s good enough for sale. Because no product will be perfect from day 1.
But it’s better to get something out for feedback than hoard it to yourself.