Ever since I started making money online the one area that I have avoided was creating a digital product online. The main reason why I didn’t create a product online was because of the time commitment and effort that was involved in making a product.
Over a year ago I made a conscious decision to focus on creating my first digital product in the form of an ebook.
Finally, after six years of making money on the internet, I can finally say that I have launched my first online product.
Now, I wish I could tell you that I blew the roof of my expectations and came out with $100,000 in sales in my first week , but that didn’t happen. The truth is a had a good launch week (a few thousand in sales), but I can definitely improve on any product launches in the future.
The following is the process that I used to launch my first product online.
Phase 1: Building a Website and Following
Before I even conceived of launching my first online product I created a website around a major passion of mine. This is an outdoor activity that I have grown to love over the years. Since I followed a number of other websites in the niche, I knew there was a market that I could target directly on social media. While this niche is very small compared to more lucrative niches, there is still a following and an interest.
For the first year I spent building up a website (simple WordPress) and trying to gain traction. I focused on trying to create viral articles that would get shared on social media by the bigger sites in the niche. For the first 3 months I created content that was very high quality and designed to go viral. These were top 10 lists and articles that people love sharing with others who are passionate about the subject.
After 3 months of writing content, one of the bigger Facebook pages in the niche shared some of my articles and my site took off. Not only did I start getting consistent traffic from social media, but I also started to build my own fans on Facebook as a result.
Once I had my own Facebook audience, it was much easier to create viral articles that would spread online. This was how my website began to gain traction and take off.
After a year my website went from being brand new to one of the major sites in the niche. About 50% of my traffic came from social media and direct referrals and the other 50% came from organic searches. This resulted in roughly 500 visitors a day, which is decent for my particular niche.
Seeing my traffic growing at a steady rate, I knew that I had potential to launch a digital product (ebook) in the niche and make money. The other major site in the niche had already launched a few digital products, so I already knew that there was a market for a good product.
Phase 2: Creating An Email List
After a year of my website gaining traction I finally decided to create an email newsletter. I knew that the newsletter would be important for my product launch, so I scrambled last minute to put together a list of fans. I did a LOT of research on the different email list providers and I ended up settling on MailChimp. I found that they were visually the most appealing and they had raving reviews from everyone who used them.
Have you ever heard the term the money is in the list? This is by far the best advice I have heard and I want to pass it on to you. If you have a website, get people to subscribe to your mailing list. The biggest mistake I made when I started my website is to not get emails from visitors. I made the mistake of waiting an entire year before I decided it was time to build an email list.
To entice people to join my newsletter I created a 20 page eBook that I gave away for free if people signed up. While I gained a few subscribers, the results were much lower than I was hoping for.
It wasn’t until I purchased OptinMonster (Highly Recommended) that I was able to consistently build my email list. OptinMonster provides pop ups and side bar integration with WordPress, which are very effective in conversions.
The hardest part about creating an email list is actually maintaining the list. Once people signed up for my list I had to create bi-monthly emails on specific topics in the niche. I ended up creating an automation sequence so I could create 1 email and it would eventually be sent to everyone who joined the list.
Phase 3: Research and Planning
Since I knew that there was a viable market for a digital product, I immediately began brain storming ideas. I looked online and tried to see the products and books that were already out there. I looked at all of the topics that were already covered and tried to find a particular area where I could set myself apart from the rest.
I focused on trying to solve a particular problem that I lot of people faced in the niche.
After a few weeks of braining storming I finally had a topic that I wanted to cover. The next step was to create an outline of all of the different chapters that I wanted to include in the book. This took me a few hours of brain storming the key things I wanted to talk about in my book.
Lesson: One mistake I made when I did my initial outline is I focused on a topic that was too broad. Instead of narrowing my topic down to something very specific, I ended up choose a broad topic that would cause me problems when I realized it was TOO big later on.
Once I was finished outlining all of the chapters in the book, the next step was to break each chapter down into sub-chapters and sub-headings. My goal was to try and break the entire book down into as many points as I could, to make sure I was focused on a specific topic when I began writing the book.
The key to writing a book is to try and make it as organized as possible. The less time you spend diddling your thumbs and thinking about what you should write, the more time you can spend writing. This is why creating a book outline and mapping out the different sections you want is crucial in writing a successful book.
Phase 4: The Writing and Editing
The hardest part of launching an actual digital product was the writing. Since I am the type of person who likes everything to be perfect, I went through dozens and dozens of edits before I final came to a finished product.
Finding a distraction free environment proved to be very challenging. Since I work at home, I had to deal with family distractions of people coming and going. This made it extremely difficult to focus on the writing of the book.
I ended up going to coffee shops and trying to get out of the house as much as possible to work on my book.
When everything was said and done, I ended up writing a digital product that was over 300 pages long. When I asked people to review it they looked at the page count and never got back to me.
Since I knew it was too long, I ended up splitting up the book into 3 smaller books. This was one of the strategies that I used to try and sell more copies. If someone was paying $50 for 3 books, they would feel they are getting a better deal than paying $50 for 1 book.
From the original brain storming of the book to the completion date, it took me almost a year to write the books. To be fair, I probably could have finished the writing in 3 months if I was able to focus and write full time on the books.
Phase 5: Creating a Sales Page, Distribution and Pricing
Now that I had finished writing my books it was time to create a sales page. I researched a number of different landing page builders and I ended up choosing Profit Builder, a program that gave me everything I needed to create an excellent landing page for my website. (It was also much cheaper than some of the other options that were available)
From start to finish, it took me about 3 full days of working to complete my Landing page. What I did was I went to an established online site that had a great landing page and I copied the exact layout, font and color scheme. This ensured that my landing page looked very professional, even though I designed in myself in a few days.
Once the landing page was finished I need to decide what digital download service I was going to use. While most people use Clickbank and Gumroad, I wanted to choose a service with a low commission rate, so I could keep more money that I made. I ended up settling on a Digital Download Service provider called SendOwl.
SendOwl doesn’t take any commission on products you sell. They simply charge a monthly few per month to use their service. they also have a built in affiliate program that they use which makes it extremely easy to set up affiliates. (I highly recommend using SendOwl to sell digital products)
Once I signed up with SendOwl I needed to configure my payment system. Since SendOwl acts as a platform, you get all of the payments from your customers directly into your bank account (something I love). This also means you need to sign up with a payment system like PayPal and Stripe (I use both).
After choosing my digital distributor and signing up for the payment systems, it was now time to upload my digital pdf files to SendOwl and create specific product packages that I was going to sell. Since I had 3 digital ebooks, I decided on creating 3 different price points.
My pricing strategy consisted of trying to convince people to purchase my first bundle, which combined all of the books into a single offering. To do this, I strategically made the book that people at the least interest in the cheapest option at $29. The book that I knew would be the most popular I charged for $45 and for the complete package of all 3 books I charged $49.99.
The end results were much better than expected. Nobody bought the first 2 options and everyone who has purchased the books so far has bought the most expensive option. This 2 other price points were simply created to push people into buying the Value price of $49.99.
I will create an article on this topic in the near future.
Phase 6: Marketing and Pre-Selling
After I had everything ready for the final launch, it was time to start begin marketing my product to my already established email list. To help gain traction for the book, I decided to create a series of emails based on topics that I cover in the book. This would not only get people interested in the topic, but it would also make people aware that I was launching my online product.
Since I am someone who hates marketers constantly making sales pitches at me, I wanted to make the pitches at the end of every email in a non-intrusive way. This way people who didn’t want to purchase my product, would continue to read my emails so I could market to them at a later date.
Overall, I created a series of 6 emails that were sent out in the 3 weeks leading up to my product launch. Each email transitioned to the next email, so that I would get people looking forward to reading the next email they received.
In every email I continued to blast the date that the book would be launching. I wanted to try and create hype around the launch date of the book.
Besides marketing to my newsletter, I created a number of banner ads that were launched around my website. The banner ads were designed to promote the book to the hundreds of visitors who came to my website everyday. While non-email list visitors have a much lower rate of conversion, it was still and area that I didn’t want to leave untouched.
Phase 7: Product Launch and Sales Figures
When the launch date finally arrived I sent out an email to my newsletter announcing the book launch and created a post on my website. By this time my newsletter had a few thousands subscribers so I was confident I could get a percentage of those people to buy. Keep in mind that the open rate on my email list was around 30%, so only 30% of people who get my emails actually read them.
As I sent out my newsletter announcing the book launch I sat by more computer waiting for the sales to come in.
I waited 2 hours and finally went to bed without seeing a single sale. One year of writing and countless hours of stress and I had yet to make a sale.
Fortunately, when I woke up I had racked up my first few sales. While the sales were much slower than expected, they began to trickle in over the next few days. Over the first month I ended up making just over $2,600 in sales. While this was not amazing, it was definitely a nice reward for all the hard work that I put in on the product. Especially considering I didn’t have to do much work after I released the product.
Phase 8: Following the Launch
After the first week of sales I began creating more posts on my website that were related to the products. These posts all have links at the bottom of the post that promote my product.
I have managed to sell roughly 1 product a day since the launch. If that number holds over the next few months, that is an extra $1,500 every month of the product. While this amount is not life changing, it is a nice addition to the income that I already make online.
Another thing I did following my product launch is contact other websites in the niche and ask them to join my affiliate program. While some websites ignored my messages, I was able to land a few affiliates who will start selling my book very shortly. Hopefully this can generate a few extra sales every month and add to my earnings.
Should You Launch A Digital Product?
If you have a website and have traffic, you should 100% launch your own digital product. Having a digital product that sells itself is the definition of passive income. It generates money that you never would have had if you never created it.
Popular websites that have a strong fan base often create products that sell for $50,000+ dollars in the first few days of sales. My product launch was much smaller than some of the bigger sites, but I am confident over time it will easily compensate me for all the long hours spent creating it.
The key is to get started. Stop thinking about when you are going to start making a product and just do it. Sitting around and thinking about it is the reason why most people never end up launching a product in the first place.