I've been blogging for over four years now, but I always hesitated on building out a digital product.Part of it was not wanting to put the time in on top of working a full-time job, running this blog and a side hustle, and renovating a home in my mid-twenties.
But more than that, it was a little bit of imposter syndrome - I didn't think I was relevant or interesting enough to have a product.
I struggled for years to get over this feeling, and finally in early 2016 put out my first product for sale, a workbook about blogging as it turns out. But honestly..... I was only kinda sold on the importance of selling of digital products as a business or "side gig."
Then one day early this Spring I really clued into the power of passive product income. It was a day when I was super sick in bed and had three articles due to clients...and I could barely find the energy to get out of bed.
On top of being sick, I was panicked and stressed. How was I going to get all of it done?
I'm in a business where if I don't consistently produce, I don't earn. That kind of money stress was an awful emotional feeling on top of physically feeling terrible.
I sent my clients an email begging for an extension and delegated a few posts to my assistant. I felt crappy, but had no other recourse.
...But another amazing thing happened that day.
Earlier in the month I'd scheduled an email to go out to my email list on the same day I happened to be sick. I do all of my promotional emails at the beginning of the month, schedule them out and then forget about them.
Except I made $300 that day while I was sick and sniffly in bed.
It may not seem like a lot, but that $300 on a day when I didn't work felt so amazing to me.
It was then I realized how powerful it can be to make money while you're sick, when you sleep, or when you have any other type of emergency.
But digital products also fill a creative need for me as a digital entrepreneur
Honestly, I feel like developing digital products is the best thing I've done this year.
I'd wanted to do them for so long, and they've helped me continue to grow this site and build my skill set.
Building out my own line of digital products has allowed me to scratch a creative itch for design I previously hadn't filled since I left my corporate job in April 2015. I've gotten a few questions via email on how I've made the switch from making money on my writing and into more affiliate and product sales, and doing digital products has allowed me to shift my business model.
I haven't made a ton of money, but for those who'd like to get started or learn how to start selling digital products as a side hustle, I wanted to detail the things I found most helpful as a beginner.
How to Start Selling Digital Products : The 5 Ways I made it to my First $1,000
Prime Your Audience for Sales
Your audience is the most important thing in all of this - they're the ones who frequent your blog, support what you do, and (potentially) buy your products. This is why it's important to prime your audience months in advance before you ever start selling a product.
They're used to certain things from you, and if you automatically start giving them the hard sell, they can get turned off, quick.
- Slipping in affiliates before you start pushing your own products.
- Doing a pre-sale to your email newsletter subscribers
- Social media posts on "exciting projects" and products you're working on.
- Giving folks sneak peaks of the products via social media.
Fill Out An Ideal Customer Exercise
If you blog as a business, you (should) already have an idea of who your target reader is. Completing an ideal customer exercise gives you even more clarity into what kind of product you want to build and who specifically you want to buy it.
You have to get very granular--- which is what surprised me most when I started researching ideal customer exercises to do. I like this one by Mei Pak of the Creative Hive Company in her FREE A Sale a Day challenge. (she's awesome!)
Fill it out. Even if you don't feel like it's useful or that you're just answering a lot of hypothetical questions with answers you pulled from your butt, I pinky-promise it's helpful.
It will inform the design and development process more than you know.
Re-Write Your Descriptions
Building out a truly valuable product is hard work. But the good news is that you do all of that hard work ONCE and then you can sell that product passively for weeks and years ahead.
But sometimes in the excitement of launching a product, you forget to dot every "I" and cross every "T."
I made a huge mistake with this by just putting my products up on my sales platform, Gumroad, and not really investing any time or energy into making the descriptions compelling.
When my sales were stagnating, I began to dig and realized...my product descriptions sucked. It was really egotistical of me to think that just by putting something up, people would download and I'd make thousands of dollars.
So, I looked at some other online entrepreneurs I admired, and saw what they were doing with theirs.
I wrote, tweaked, and then re-wrote again.
Even if you have no idea where to start, think about the type of online products you buy and invest in. What about those landing pages and sales copy made you purchase.
Even when I buy online products I like to know exactly what I'm getting and I enjoy reading (in great detail) how the product works and why...so I made sure my product descriptions reflected everything I felt I would like to know before buying a product.
Leverage Email Marketing
90% of what I've sold this year (which you can read about in my online income reports) has been through my email list. It's such a powerful thing to have because your email subscribers are the people most likely to buy.
After all, they opted into your email list, so they're obviously feeeeeeling you and what you're putting out.
So, if you want to sell products and don't have an email list, put together that email list first before you build out products.
Do what you can to grow the list, as you'll be able to see a very visible correlation between # of subscribers and sales conversions.
And remember: Your email list is GOLD, baby.
Diversify Your Product Offerings
Obviously, we all start somewhere, and that's usually with one small product. My first were the worksheets I developed as content upgrades in several of my most well performing posts. (You can snag your copies here.) From there, I built out my blogger workbook and then an update of my "Grow Your Money Tree" tool kit.
I think having diverse product offerings (products for those who want to blog AND manage their money better) is important because you can
a) learn more about your audience
b) create greater opportunities to bundle and package your products
c) increase your earnings as it gives one time customers more opportunities to become two time customers.
The final thing to remember about selling digital products is to not let perfection stop you.
Do the best you can, build a great product, and promote the heck out of it and stop worrying if it's 100% spot on. Remember, you can't learn anything about your audience and what they buy until you start selling something.
Are you selling digital products? What have you learned about the process?