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You’ll always remember your first…
Ok, not that first.
Get your mind out of the gutter, people 😉
Your first PRODUCT.
We’re talking specifically about selling digital products here — aka digital downloads like eBooks, courses, etc.
Our first product launch (a yoga eBook), coincided with friends coming to visit us in Seattle.
So, we finished the product, got the sales page set up, wrote the emails, and set up everything else before they came into town.
This is what it looked like:
The stress and tension between Lauren and I were palpable. We had actually gotten into a big fight while creating the product over disagreements about minor details.
Upon further reflection, it turns out we were both just scared nobody would want our product. That we’d never figure out how to really make money blogging and we’d fail.
That nobody actually bought online products like this.
That we would fail and have to go back to our regular jobs forever.
But we sucked it up and pushed through our fears and doubts. We were determined.
If you want to hear more about how to make money selling you own stuff online, listen to the podcast episode here:
Our First Product Launch
That weekend that we launched the product, we went to Portland, Oregon with my friends.
To say I checked my phone for email notifications of sales a lot during this trip would be the biggest understatement of the year.
I was waiting for that “Stripe Payment of $37” to come through on my phone. Stripe is the third-party payment processor that we use to collect payments on our sales pages.
Sadly, not a single sale came through that weekend.
4-5 days had passed before we headed home, and it seemed as though no one wanted our product, and our worst fears had come true.
But then I logged into our Stripe account when we got home… to find out that I had didn’t have email notifications for payments enabled…
WE HAD MADE A FEW SALES!!!
I don’t want to be too overdramatic here, y’all, but…
Seeing those first $37 payments made me feel like someone had punched me square in the chest and knocked the wind out of me.
In a really, really good way… If that’s a thing…
I ran to Lauren, told her the news, and we jumped around screaming like idiots in the living room for a little while.
We celebrated. There were a lot of mimosas.
This wasn’t the first money we had made with our blog. We had made some already through selling affiliate products.
But selling your own product to your audience… That’s a whole different ballgame and a whole different level of success.
The money felt more real in a weird and unexpected way. It paved the way for a new connection and appreciation to our blog and the work that we put into it every day.
And it wasn’t just the money. It had everything to do with what the sale represented…
- All the late nights
- The fights and disagreements that really just spurred from fear
- The insane decision to quit our jobs before we were making any money
It all began to feel worth it — like it was finally paying off.
This was our first taste of REAL success, and we want to show you exactly how it’s done!
For all of you preferred video learners out there, here is a video on The Ultimate Guide to Creating and Selling Digital Products from our YouTube Channel below.
Okay y’all, here it is!
The very first step is to GET YO’ MIND RIGHT!
1. Set the Right Expectations
It may seem weird, but this step may be the most important.
Selling products to people you don’t know isn’t easy and it starts with having confidence in yourself and the knowledge that you have to share with the world.
Yeah, there are a lot of two-bit peddlers selling half-baked products out there. And yes, a few of them make some money.
But they aren’t the ones on top. They don’t understand (or don’t care) that their knowledge can actually change the world.
They care more about money.
Here are a few mindset shifts we have learned that helped us succeed.
Remember that EVERYONE has doubts.
This is why we started out with our story. We told you about some of the feelings we had when we started creating our first product:
- We’re not good enough.
- It’s going to fail like our first product did.
- Nobody wants this information or will pay for it (it’s free on the Internet like everything else!).
We were literally moments away from not making our product because of these fears and doubts.
Lauren and I never will forget that moment because of how strong the emotions were.
The courage to push forward despite these fears stemmed from the idea: “What’s the worst that can happen?”
We had already quit our jobs and essentially pledged our commitment to this blog, so let’s see this thing through. We have to know that we tried everything.
And I am damned glad that we kept moving forward.
Here is the second truth…
People WANT solutions to their problems.
Could you invent an injection that I could take once a year that would give me the ability to get drunk with friends every evening without all the negatives that come with alcohol consumption?
Great, because if you did, I’d gladly pay $5,000 of dollars for it.
And so would just about anyone that loves to drink alcohol above the age of 25.
People WANT solutions to their problems. And they will pay wisely for those solutions if you can deliver on what you promise.
There is no reason to feel weird and “icky” about selling to people because you’re HELPING them (assuming your product really does work).
The other thing to keep in mind here: People work harder for the things that they pay for.
People don’t take free information as seriously and they don’t generally put in as much work for something that is free.
It’s like a 16-year-old whose parents give him a Mercedes.
The kid didn’t pay for it, so he doesn’t know the true value of it and therefore doesn’t respect it as much as a 35-year old adult who saved up for it.
And then… there’s the fact that people will actually THANK YOU for your product.
When you create a solution to someone’s problem, sell it, and treat them right, these are the things they will say about you:
Selling digital products has a LOT of upsides.
Here are some of the top reasons why digital products freakin’ rule:
- No shipping involved. Physical products need to be stored shipped. Even if you’re not the one doing this, it’s still an extra step to be managed.
- High-profit margins. Other than some transaction fees, software costs, and maybe some marketing costs (if you use ads), the profits are mostly yours.
- Automated and passive income. Once you create the products and the systems that sell those products, the money is pretty darn passive.
- Immediate gratification. The downside is that people love to have products they can hold, but the upside is that they can get started using your product or solution IMMEDIATELY. People love that kind of instant gratification.
- Less time to develop. You can create them in a lot less time than it takes to develop or create physical products.
- Fewer costs to develop. Because it’s mostly just your time that goes into creating a product (plus maybe some minor software costs), it’s a lot cheaper to produce than a physical product.
As you can see, digital products are the way to go!
2. Focus on Building the Relationship FIRST
I call this learning how to sell ice to Eskimos.
Let’s pretend like your best friend ran up to you right now and asked you for $100 — no questions asked.
They said it was very important and needed it RIGHT NOW!
You’d give it to them, right?
That’s because you trust them.
Sales are about trust. Another easy analogy to relate this to is sex.
Let’s say you’re walking up to your porch and about to enter your home when some guy off the street walks up and asks you to sleep with him…
You’d probably think:
- This guy is a creep…
- Where’s my pepper spray?
And my hope is that you wouldn’t proceed.
Now let’s pretend the same guy isn’t some weirdo on the street but is someone you’ve just recently met at your local grocery store.
You’ve been on a few dates, have tons of fun with him, and all your friends gush about how much they love him.
You’re on your porch again, and he asks if he can come in…
Moral turpitude aside, you’d probably say yes, correct?
The difference is the trust he has built with you, and building trust is all about proper sequencing.
Just like with dating, your relationship with your reader must grow and progress before they trust you enough to give you their money.
Ask too soon, and your reader may slap you in the face with a nasty comment.
Ask at the right time, and they will gladly “go home” with you and love every second of it (if you treat them right).
3. Generate Ideas and PLAN
Okay, time to start DOING!
This next phase involves forming your idea and planning out your timeline to finish the product.
First, you’ll want to start gathering some intel.
Examine your competitors, your current audience, your most popular content, and whatever other data you have at your disposable.
Look at what is working for others in your niche, analyze your own most popular content to see what YOUR audience is most interested in, and start drawing some conclusions.
These conclusions should help you ultimately form a hypothesis for a solution that your audience wants and needs most.
Lastly, think about what that solution looks like and start planning a timeline to complete the project.
4. Create Your Outline FIRST
A detailed outline of a digital product is a more involved process than most of you would imagine.
A great outline contains:
- A well-thought-out product name
- A great headline to complement that product name
- All the content broken down into modules, lessons, or other sections
Here are a few tips to help you out with this part.
Your product name should be fairly short and somewhat descriptive of what the product does.
You can try to get cutesy with your product name if you want, but make sure people know what type of product it is by the name alone. This will make it more recognizable.
Next up is the headline.
This is probably one of the most important things that you will write.
This is very similar to the headlines of your articles and the subject of your emails. This is your hook to get them reading more.
Make sure that you address either the problem or the solution in your headline.
Lastly, you should create a thorough outline of what content you want to include in your product.
We usually write this in a Word document with different “modules” for the main topics we want to cover and then “lessons” within the modules for more specific talking points about each topic.
5. Write Your Rough Draft
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
Once you know what your product is going to be, what you want it to look like, and what problem you want to solve with it…
It’s time to START.
This is by far the most daunting part of the project, and it’s a daily attack until it’s done.
Some days, you may get a few hours done, and some days, a few minutes. But every day, you need to wake up with that draft on your mind.
YOU DO NOT want this process to extend over multiple months.
It will loom over your head at every turn and become a constant stressor on your system.
Trust us, we have created almost ten different products now, and “product creation mode,” as we call it, can be VERY stressful.
Don’t drag it out!
Attack that draft until it gets done. You’ll be over the moon when it is!
What does this look like?
Well, it will be different for everyone depending on the type of product you are creating.
If you’re writing an eBook, it will just be a whole lot of WRITING every day.
If you’re creating an online course, it’s likely going to be a combination of creating presentations, recording videos, and writing lessons.
But no matter what you’re creating, it’s just about content creation — every… single… day… until it’s done.
6. Finalize and Publish Your Product
Once you’re finished with your first rough draft, it’s time to start finalizing your product!
The first step here is to PROOFREAD EVERYTHING — at least a couple of times.
Use a free tool like Grammarly, proofread it yourself, and then get someone else to put their eyeballs on it for a second opinion.
The more familiar you are with the content, the more likely you will be to read faster and miss grammatical errors. Don’t skim over this step.
Once you’ve done this, you need to think about where and how you will sell your product.
Our favorite platform for selling products is Teachable. This is what we use to sell both our online courses and our eBooks.
After you have built your sales page, checkout form, and thank you page, it’s time to TEST EVERYTHING!
Do an entire walkthrough as a customer and purchase your product to make sure that your buttons work, your checkout page and order forms work, the right emails are sent, and the product is delivered.
It’s SUPER easy to overlook small things in the setup, so this step is VERY important.
It also helps to get a friend or partner to go over the sales page again to look for errors.
Once everything has been tested… CONGRATS! You have a live product!
But this does not mean you are done, my friend!
Oh no… We have only just begun!
We’ve saved the hardest part for last…
8. Learn How to Sell
I’m going to be honest with y’all…
Creating the product is the EASY part of this process. Learning how to market and sell your product is a whole different ballgame.
Our first product failed miserably because we tried to dive in headfirst without any guidance whatsoever.
Here’s the interesting thing about that experience…
The product wasn’t the problem. It was that we had absolutely idea how to sell it.
We didn’t have any experience. We didn’t know what we were doing.
You can’t just link a product on your website and wait for the sales to roll in. It doesn’t work that way.
You have to create sales centered content and funnels designed to sell your product.
It took us several months of trial and error to start really getting the knack of the whole “sales and marketing” thing.
And honestly… It’s actually quite fun once you get the hang of it!
These are the strategies that we teach in our Six-Figure Blogger course.
If you enjoyed this article on how to create and sell digital products or have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below!