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Hey and welcome to another weekly episode of the SYS podcast! So many of you have emailed/messaged me since I announced my business pivot in episode 14 saying that you want to get started with digital products– but you have no idea how to get started? Like, where do you even begin?! And then– the ever popular questions– what’s the FASTEST way to get a digital product up and out there?
Because I don’t know about you, but it is HARD to stay motivated sitting and creating a digital product that takes you MONTHS to produce and brings you no income in the meantime because you haven’t been able to put it out there. K, this episode is NOT for that. You can still create that epic digital product that you work on for months and months, but this episode is going to teach you how to get something up and out there in a matter of DAYS or WEEKS so you can start earning that passive revenue right away.
Let’s dive in:
Alright, so like I said, this episode is all about getting something up and out into the world as quickly as possible. Which means you’re going to need to leave your perfectionist tendencies at the door. Because I don’t know about you, but it is EASY to get hung up on perfection and keep putting off launching your digital product or products into the world because they’re not “just right” or they don’t look as incredible as so-and-so’s or don’t include a bajillion bells and whistles.
But here’s the deal: nobody starts off with everything 100% incredibly perfect right out of the gates. And for those very, very select few that do, it’s because they’ve put it off for MUCH longer than you needed to and wasted an insane amount of time doing it– time they could have been using to tweak an offer that was already out there and making them money. So bottom line? your goal should always be to get your MVP out there.
But let’s back up a quick sec because I just threw out the acronym “MVP” and you may not know what that is. Up until the past couple of years, I had no idea either other than an acronym for most valuable player, which comes from having a husband obsessed with collegiate sports.
But we’re not talking about that MVP today– we’re talking about a different one– your “minimal viable product” and it essentially means a product that you can create and get out into the world quickly and use to work out the kinks of creating/marketing/fulfilling orders with it.
There are a bunch of reasons why this MVP strategy works vs creating some big, fancy offer, but the real power comes because you took action.
And once you actually start taking action– instead of just staying in the comfort of the research + development phase– you gain mega clarity for moving forward and– bonus!– REVENUE.
Because until you have a product out there, it can’t make you money. So getting it out there into the world– even if it isn’t the A+ rockstar product you have envisioned for the future? It’s SUPER important.
So let’s talk about how YOU can get started with your own MVP when it comes to digital products in your shop.
Okay, #1: Start where you’re at
Unless you’re planning your digital product or product line to go a complete 180 from where you are currently with your online business– whether it’s an Etsy shop or blog or whatever– the first and foremost piece of advice I can recommend is to build a product for your current audience.
I KNOW it’s easy to get distracted by ALLLLLLL the possibilities out there for potential digital product ideas. Templates, swipe copy, online courses, graphics– there are– literally– SO MANY PATHS out there for you to potentially follow, which is one of the reasons why I am head over heels in love with digital products– seriously– SO much potential.
And while I want you to feel inspired and like the world is your oyster when it comes to digital products, I also want to make sure you don’t hit #brainoverwhelm and burn out before you ever settle on an idea because of all the possibilities out there for you that you *could* follow.
Instead, if you’re JUST getting started with passive income (a fancy word for digital products that essentially means income you generate without having to do additional work with every sale) I recommend you create a product with your CURRENT audience in mind.
Regardless of where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, you probably have *some* type of audience– be it a few hundred social media followers or a couple dozen email subscribers if you’re just starting out, or maybe numbers in the thousands.
But regardless of where you’re starting from, you absolutely CAN and SHOULD be using the audience you already have to test your first digital product on.
Like all things in business, it isn’t as easy as creating a quick product and slapping it up into your shop to make it rain sales– you need to have somebody to MARKET it to. Okay, none of this “hope marketing,” when you *hope* for sales but do nothing actively to make them happen. Okay, none of that. Because when you do that, it’s impossible to tell if it’s the PRODUCT that’s all wrong or simply the (lack of) effective marketing.
Okay, that was a slight tangent, but like I said, it’s never as easy as posting a product online and making instant sales. There’s a bit more that goes into the process, and if it’s your goal to get your digital product or product line up as quickly as possible– your MVP product– you’re going to want to save yourself some MEGA time and energy by using the audience you already have built up. I’m ALL about making things easier on myself, aren’t you?
Okay, so don’t make this harder on yourself than you need to– take the audience you’ve already got and use them as “guinea pigs” when you launch your new digital offer.
What do you already know about these people and their needs/struggles? What kind of digital product can you create that will solve a problem for them and create that passive income for you?
Maybe you currently sell physical terrarium kits. Can you create a digital resource guide on how to DIY at home with shopping lists, styling tips, answers to FAQ’s– basically an “ultimate guide” and blueprint to creating + designing DIYing terrariums…
Maybe you currently sell baby bows. You can create digital pattern listings for those sellers who pop in but maybe want to try their hand at making them themselves. I am NOT a DIYer, but the nesting phase of pregnancy is a real thing!
Maybe you sell essential oil items— you could create an ebook on Essential Oils 101– everything you need to know about buying + using them.
Seriously– so many options out there– you just have to start thinking outside the box!
Now, I’m not saying it has to be an absolutely perfectly seamless fit with your audience because yes, some people will want to buy the finished physically-shipped product vs. a DIY version or a digital product related to it. THAT’S OKAY! It’s all about having the option for them if they so choose.
And if you’re struggling to come up with an idea- and even if you’re not but need a little guidance– one of the BEST things you can do is to design a digital product based around your customer’s needs.
What does your current audience struggle with? What challenges do they face? These will all be REALLY easy questions to answer if you’ve nailed down your target market (or, as I like to call it, “dream customer”). But if you have NO idea what your audience is struggling with or needs or wants, ASK THEM!
MVP tip #2 – Pick the product of least resistance
Now maybe you have BIG DREAMS of an incredible course or program that will teach people how to do xyz and create these super incredible life-transforming results.
First off, that is AWESOME. Keep dreaming that big dream because that visionary aspect of you is going to take you FAR when it comes to online business. And I have NO DOUBT that you’re going to get there with your product.
But let’s not try and eat the whole elephant at once. Trust me– I’ve already tried myself and I promise you it’s harder than it looks.
If you’re *just* getting started with digital products, there are A LOT of things that are going to be new to you. Depending on where you end up selling your product and through what systems there may be some new tech to figure out or how to deliver your product or just a million different little things that we don’t think of when we’re getting started because we’re insanely passionate about an idea and become so laser-focused on just that.
But trust me when I say there are a bunch of small things that’ll pop up that you’ll need to figure out IN ADDITION to your actual product creation and launch.
And it’s for EXACTLY this reason that you should not go too big when launching your first digital product.
If you’re trying to do this as quickly as possible, pick something that you can easily create and you know how to export/upload/format/whatever it is for delivery and work with that.
Don’t create a full-blown video e-course on jewelry making if you’ve never filmed or edited a video in your life.
Don’t create a series of Lightroom presets if you’ve never opened up an Adobe program in your life.
While those might be “good” ideas and would serve your current audience’s needs well…
…they’re not actually “good” ideas if it’s going to tack on 6+ months of a learning curve to make them happen, right? Remember– your goal is to get something up and out into the world– so pick something with as little resistance as possible. I’m not saying you can’t push and stretch yourself– absolutely do that– but cut yourself some slack with that initial digital product so you can get over the learning curve that comes in and of itself with selling digitally– especially if you’ve always sold + shipped physical products.
MVP step #3 – Create your B-list product
It may seem like kind of a no-brainer step, but this is a MEGA roadblock for people when creating product, so let’s talk about what it means to create a “b-list” product and how you can become “okay” with that in your business– especially if you’re a recovering perfectionist like myself.
A “b-list” product is essentially a product that is still above average. Still an incredible product. Still something you’re proud of. But it’s still a B-list product. There is room for improvement. There are bells and whistles you could add. There are additional things you could improve about it– be it the layout or colors or copy or WHATEVER. Okay, it’s not 100% perfect.
But it’s close enough.
Now if you’re like “No, I’m not putting something out there and selling it for my audience when I know it’s not my best work,” then let’s talk about a little bit of a mindset shift here.
As long as you are creating this product and keeping it to yourself, you are in NO way serving your audience. In fact, you’re actually doing them a DISSERVICE because you have this incredible product– whatever it is– but you won’t let them see it until it’s “just right” in your eyes.
You’re still creating an incredible product– okay, I’m not telling you to put something that’s crappy out there– it’s still a product that you put time + energy into and you believe in. You absolutely MUST believe in it.
But just because it doesn’t have the “perfect font” or the “bonus video tutorial” guide in it doesn’t mean you can’t put it out into the world.
So much fear and uncertainty– and I’m speaking 110% from experience here– comes from over-analyzing and keeping things to ourselves. Creating and actually putting things out into the world is when that clarity comes. So stop talking, stop tweaking, and start DOING.
Alright, so what does a “b-list” product look like? Well, let me share a personal example of this and then some hypotheticals.
So for my signature program, Mastermind Your Marketing, well, it’s come a long way since it’s creation in 2017. The graphics, the content, the bonuses, basically all of it.
When I *first* created it– and keep in mind this was my FIRST digital course– it was on a completely DIFFERENT platform, I had NO branding whatsoever so I picked CORAL and unflattering fonts– trust me– NOT a graphic designer here. And I created the course curriculum to be robust, but it was basically just videos. No worksheets or swipe copy or graphic templates or anything like that. It was always my goal to get to that point, and trust me– I would have LOVED to have launched that first time with the product I was visioning in my head– but my business coach told me I needed to get it out there and that I could add to it afterwards.
How right she was.
Fast-forward 3 years later and Mastermind Your Marketing looks COMPLETELY different. We’ve added in alumni coaches and mentors, custom tech support, a completely streamlined curriculum, and all the swipe copy, templates, bonuses that you could ever need. It’s truly the product I envisioned 3 years ago. But it took time to get to this point.
Now as bare bones as that first iteration of the program was, I knew it was still a good program. I was still sharing what *I* had done to grow my business and I knew the content in there was good– I believed in it. And that was and is really important. That’s how I was able to put it out there even though it maybe wasn’t as “ideal” as I would have liked.
And guess what?
Even though it wasn’t “perfect,” it sold 78 spots that first launch and earned me $28,000. That’s $28,000 I would never have had if I had waited until everything was “perfect.”
In fact– bonus points for a MVP– when you put your b-list product out there, you can invite feedback from your students or customers. Ask them what they’d like to see. What improvements you can make. They’re going to have better ideas than you are when it comes to creating a product they love.
Okay, so that’s my personal example. Now for some hypotheticals:
If you want to create the ultimate Watercolor course and teach a million different techniques, start by creating a smaller course with maybe 5 basic techniques– a Watercolor 101 course– and get that out there. Then, as you have time and your product is validated with students, continue to add on lessons + resources until it becomes the product you initially envisioned.
If you want to create a bundle of jewelry patterns and package them together in an ebook or something similar, you can start off by creating the individual patterns, listing them online, and then compiling them when you have enough created. Or, you could JUST compile the patterns into the book and then add in a supplies purchasing guide and a jewelry terminology cheat sheet or whatever it is as you go.
Alright– so the idea here isn’t to create a crap product. Not at all. It’s to create a good product that maybe isn’t absolutely perfectly robust, but is still valuable to your customers and has the potential to get to where you want it to go.
Step 4: Put it out into the world + market the heck out of it.
As much as I’d like to say “the hard part is over,” you and I both know it’s not. Marketing your digital product is just as big a game player as the actual product itself, for better or for worse.
So first things first– once your product is all created– even though it’s not perfect– you’re going to want to put it out there. In your Etsy shop, on your website– wherever it is that you’re selling it. GET IT UP THERE ASAP. Don’t worry about having the “perfect launch” or whatever. Just get it up there. Getting it up there will FORCE you to take action marketing it more than planning out the details of a perfect launch. Again– we don’t want perfection or to get hung up in a way that prevents you from taking action. So just GET IT UP THERE.
Now, depending on your product and where you’re selling it, this may be as simple as uploading a zipped file on Etsy, or as complex as setting up automations to enroll students in a new course when purchased. Anything you can do to automate the delivery is critical at this point so that you can focus 100% of your attention on SELLING it instead of trying to figure out in real time when you have actual people purchasing it.
And then once it’s up there, THEN it’s time to dive into marketing.
Now obviously we can’t dive into #allthedetails about your marketing today– or you’d be stuck listening to this podcast for hours, which isn’t to say I *couldn’t* keep going on for hours– just that I value your time and also the fact that I do, in fact, have to converse with my children tomorrow and I can’t do that if I’ve lost my voice.
So let’s just talk about the MOST important part of your product marketing: Your email list.
Oooh, did you just cringe? I feel like I heard the cringing. It might have been my cat pawing at the door because I have to lock him out when I record or he jumps on my laptop and paws at the microphone, but I suspect it wasn’t that.
If you’re cringing, you’re in good company. Most Etsy sellers (and e-commerce sellers in general) get anxious when the words “email list” come up. The new platform, the tech, the actual writing of the emails (which seems to freak people out the most) can be scary. I get that.
But I would be doing you a disservice today if I said that social media or SEO are your best bet for selling this digital product– because it’s simply not true.
Having an email list of subscribers that you can pitch your product to is non-negotiable. If you’ve been putting it off because the tech scares you or you don’t know what to say to your subscribers, it’s time to become bigger than your excuses. And I’m saying that for myself as much as you because I can make excuses with the best of them as for why I am still carrying part of the baby weight around 1 ½ years after my son was born. But when it comes to selling your products, email marketing is CRITICAL to not only getting higher sales conversions, but also setting up automations that allow your marketing to be very “hands off” which I know is a big deal if you’re introverted or uncomfortable with selling in any way.
And the goal of adding a digital product to your shop is to free up your time, right?! For almost everybody, that’s the big goal– it’s either to free up time, or earn more revenue. And both of those go hand-in-hand and are tied together. So in the spirit of FREEING UP YOUR TIME and MAKING MORE MONEY– 2 birds with one stone–, an email list just became your new marketing BFF.
So take a few hours, a day, WEEK (but probably not longer than that) to wrap your head around the idea that yes, email marketing is going to play a big role in your digital product selling– and just any online selling in general– and then get started. Just like your MVP, get going and out there! Don’t worry about the fonts or the colors or the way you sign off. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you’re using the BEST platform out there to sell your new digital product for you on autopilot.
Now this is something we explore super in-depth inside Mastermind Your Marketing with all the emails you need to send and how to structure them and where to put what, but in a nutshell, you’re going to send some “launch” emails when your product is up– possibly adding in some sort of promotion to get people excited about taking action and purchasing it– and then you’re going to want to set up an automated “welcome” sequence that all of your new subscribers go through.
This sequence is a 4-5 part email sequence– sometimes longer if you’re feeling ambitious– that introduces, educates, and passively SELLS your product for you. Your goal is to take that new email subscriber and walk them through those emails over the course of a couple of weeks to build that know, like, trust factor with them so that they purchase your product.
Step 5: Add in the bells + whistles and bring your A-game
And then once you’ve done ALL OF THAT and got some customers and proved to yourself that yes, people are actually willing to buy your product (which is a huge mindset issues, by the way, so it’s another reason why getting it up and out there so quickly is so important). But NOW it’s time to add in the bells and whistles and uplevel your b-level product to it’s A game.
Use your customers to get feedback on your product. How can you improve it? What would they like to see added? Does it need better organization? More customization options? Just create a quick survey that asks for their feedback and then be willing to take it.
Acting on this feedback and improving the product you already have is going to make you significantly MORE money even faster than getting to work on your NEXT digital product. Okay? We ALWAYS want to optimize things to their fullest potential before moving on. It’s true with product creation and marketing, too. You figure out what’s working and you work even harder to make it work even better.
Alright, so just a quick recap:
Step 1: Okay, #1: Start where you’re at – build a product for your CURRENT audience
Step 2: Pick the product of least resistance
Step 3: Create your b-list product
Step 4: Put it out into the world + market that baby!
Step 5: Add in the bells + whistles and bring your A-game
And there you have it– the quick + dirty big picture guide to how to get your digital product up as quickly as possible in your shop. Adding a digital product is going to be a GAME CHANGER for your revenue and your sanity– and I can’t wait to see what you put out into the world!
Thanks for listening to this episode. If you liked what you heard, make sure you subscribe to the Simplify Your Sales podcast over on iTunes where I share a new episode every single week. And if you’ve found ANY sort of value in this episode, I would head over heels LOVE YOU (in a non-creepy way, pinky promise) if you left a review so that this free resource can get in front of as many eyes as possible.
Thanks for tuning in and I’ll see you next week, same time, same place.