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The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Selling Digital Products on Your Blog (Step Five)

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Step Five Serving Cusomters

Your product is out there! You’re starting to make some money! Now you can sit back and just watch the passive income roll in, right?

Wrong.

One of the biggest mistakes most people make when selling digital products is thinking that the work ends after launch day. Very few people can “set it and forget it” when it comes to digital products. You need to provide great customer service to turn your fans into customers and to turn your customers into advocates.

Step Five: Continuously Serving Your Customers

Today, before ending this series of posts on selling digital products, I want to delve a little deeper into the life of a digital product after launch day. Let’s talk about…

  • Whether or not digital products are actually a source of passive income
  • Finding new customers beyond the initial burst of sales
  • Short-term customer care
  • Long-term customer care

When Passive isn’t Really Passive

Everyone always talks about how great passive income is, but the fact of the matter is this: passive income isn’t typically truly passive. Whenever you have money changing hands, customer support is needed. There will always be someone who has trouble downloading your product or logging into your website. There will always be someone who wants a refund. There will always be someone who has problems with payment processing.

This can be passive in the sense that you don’t have to be personally providing the customer support. You can instead hire a team of VAs to help you with this task. Then, all you’ll need to do is some initial training.

Just be aware that if you choose not to provide customer support, the result will not be good for your bottom line. People who have bad experiences tend to be extremely vocal on social networks. When someone googles your name/product, do you want a bunch of bad reviews to be the first thing that pops up?

Finding Customers

Launching a digital products is exciting because you typically see a rush of sales on launch day, slowly dropping off over the course of a week or two. But what then? If all you do is link to your product on your sidebar, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Every person who visits your blog is a potential sale. How much money are you missing out on, simply because you leave it up to people to figure out you have a product for sale?

So what can you do to find new customers continuously? Here are a few ideas?

  • Set up an email campaign some that when someone signs up for your mailing list, they get a message about your product.
  • Write blog posts about similar topics and link to your product at the end.
  • Write guest posts for other bloggers and mention your product in your bio or even within the post if relevant.
  • Run promotions throughout the year, offering discounts or free trials.
  • Work with your affiliates for special promotions.
  • Host a Google+ Hangout and talk about your product.
  • Come up with a plan to mention your product on social networks on a regular basis.
  • Create free products related to your paid product to give away, then upsell to the full product.
  • Do a free webinar about a related topic and talk about your product at the end.

Short-Term Customer Care

Short-term customer service is all about taking care of problems, right? Well, kind of. Problems should be your main focus, since these are opportunities to turn a bad situation into a good situation. However, don’t ignore your customers who are singing your praises or you biggest group of customers–the ones who say nothing at all.

Create an automated email sequence so that about a week after your product is purchased, the customer receives an email follow up. Ask for feedback, offer a surprise bonus, or simply thank them a second time. You want that “second touch” with each customer to show that you really do care.

Make sure you reply to anyone who emails you, even if they are not inquiring (or yelling!) about a problem. The people who love your product or just have a question are the people who will sing your praises if you give them a little attention. We all like to feel like we’re important. When you personally reply to someone, even to just say thank you, you’re making your customers feel noticed.

While I do advocate you doing this yourself, you can have a VA help you manage this part as well by categorizing your emails so you can reply more quickly.

Long-Term Customer Care

Think about how you’re going to connect with your customers long-term as well. Why should you care? Because they’ll give you even more money! When you have another product for sale, someone who has felt they received a lot of value from you in the past is going to pull out their credit card a second time.

It’s about more than a great product. You do want to be sure that what you’re selling is awesome. But more importantly, if you go that extra mile, you’ll have people begging you for another product or even giving you more money in the form of a donation. Pat Flynn once told a story about people purchasing a product from him that they didn’t even need just to say “thank you” for his free help in the past!

The key is VALUE. Here are a few ways you can offer long-term value:

  • Offer a free “second edition” version of your book to people who purchased in the past.
  • Ask your customers to become affiliates so they can earn a little income from recommending your product.
  • Engage with customers on social networks. Beyond just talking about your product, get to know them and share their links from time to time.
  • Create a community around your product, offering forums, Facebook groups, etc. for customers to talk to one another.
  • Do a call/webinar with your customers around the 3-month-since-launch mark to answer any lingering questions.
  • Touch base via occasional emails.

The point is this: keep people involved. Then, when you have another product for sale or want a boost in sales for your current product, ASK your community of customers to help you! They can…

  • Tweet, pin, and otherwise share via social networks
  • Send emails to their friends and followers
  • Write testimonials
  • Review your product on other sites

So, while you might be thinking of your digital product as a passive source of income, if you put some more time into building a community around the product, you’ll sell more products over the long term. Passive? Not really. Profitable? Absolutely!

I hope this series has helped you prepare for selling your next digital product. Remember to check out all of the other posts in the series if you haven’t already!

 

See Other Posts in This Series:

  1. Step One: Building Relationships
  2. Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product
  3. Step Three: Creating Your Product
  4. Step Four: Planning Your Launch
  5. Step Five: Servicing Your Customers (this post)

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Selling Digital Products on Your Blog (Step Three)

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Step Three Create Your Product

So far in this guide, we’ve talked about building relationships to help you sell your product and about choosing the right product format and topic. Today, it’s time to get down to the meat of selling a digital product: we’re talking about how to go about creating the product itself.

It can seem like a daunting task. This is where a lot of bloggers get hung up and their digital product never happens. How many of us have half-finished products just sitting on our computers? Yes, I’m in this boat as well! But I’ve also finished products that have gone on to be very successful. So, today, I’m going to share with you the difference between creating a great product and losing steam half way through the product creation step.

Step Three: Get Organized for Perfect Product Creation

Creating a digital product falls into five main parts:

  1. Planning
  2. First Draft
  3. Polishing
  4. Editing
  5. Packaging

Some people only do step two and maybe three. This is a recipe for disaster! Let’s walk through each step from start to finish.

Planning for Product Creation

You might think that determining the type of product you’re going to create is all the planning you need, but if you don’t spend some time outlining and collecting your thoughts, your end product will suffer. Here are the steps I suggest you take before you start writing or recording:

  1. Brainstorm or mindmap your topic: Allow yourself to freely think about all of the ideas you have related to your topic that you could potentially cover.
  2. Edit your ideas: Not everything about the topic needs to make it into your product. You want to cover the topic adequately, but keep in mind that your product needs to be focused. If you have to many ides, your topic might be too broad. Focus for a single product or make plans to create several products.
  3. Organize the ideas: Once you’ve crossed off sub-topics that aren’t going to make the cut, organize the remaining ideas into an outline that makes sense for your type of product. For example, if you’re writing an ebook, organize by chapter. Or if you’re creating a video series, organize ideas by which video you’ll use to cover them.

Then, start to flesh out your outline. The more details you can add, the better.

Let’s say, for example, that I’m writing an ebook about Twitter, and one of my chapters is going to be on creating Twitter lists. I wouldn’t just leave it at that and start writing, though. I would break down the outline farther:

  • What is a Twitter list?
  • What kinds of Twitter lists should you create?
  • How to find people to add to your Twitter lists
  • Promoting your Twitter lists

But I wouldn’t stop there. I would break down this topic even further:

  • What is a Twitter list?
    • Definition
    • Explain how to create them
    • Why you should create them
  • What kinds of Twitter lists should you create?
    • Private versus public
    • Naming your lists
  • How to find people to add to your Twitter lists
    • Manually adding people to your lists
    • Tools to help you automate the process
    • Who NOT to include
  • Promoting your Twitter lists
    • Should you promote your lists
    • Methods for promotion

Now, if i were really going to write an ebook on this topic, I might break down these topics even farther. That way, when I start writing, I just go down the list and make sure that every topic makes it into the book in the write order.

First Draft and Polishing

Once you’ve planned, it’s time to start creating your product. I’m going this the “first draft,” which typically refers to written content, but your videos, membership site, course material, etc. can all be “first drafts” of sorts. Basically, we’ll talking about the first attempt at creating the content.

This step is where a lot of projects go to die! 🙂

Here are my best tips for getting it done, even if you don’t have tons of free time (who does?):

  • Have content creation goals. For example, when I’m writing an ebook, I set a goal to write a certain number of words every night before I go to bed. Or I might have a deadline to finish each chapter Stick to these small milestones. The first time you give yourself permission not to complete your daily tasks is the beginning of the end.
  • Use content you already own. Blog posts, older video scripts, etc. can be reformatted and used to create new content. This takes a lot less time.
  • Give yourself a work time and space. Every night from 10 PM to 11 PM you sit in your home office and write. Or every Monday during your noontime lunch break you record one video in your dining room area. Having a set schedule and location for doing your work can help you meet your goals.
  • Set a firm deadline. These are a little different from goals. A deadline is a time for the entire first draft to be done. The best way to make your deadline real is to tell someone (like an editor) when the draft will be available. That way, you’ll hold yourself more accountable. If you work with a mastermind group, you can also work with others to hold one another accountable for meeting goals and hitting deadlines.

Part-way through the product creation process, a weird things sometimes happens: you figure out that you’re doing things in the wrong format. That’s okay! Now is the time to change your idea a bit to better play to your skill set and make sure that you’re giving your future customers the best possible product.

Once you have a complete first draft, it’s time to polish it. This is the self-editing process can be difficult, but try to be liberal with your red pen. Cut unnecessary words and even unnecessary sentences or full sections if you’re producing written content. For other content, be just as liberal with cutting sections. You want to present your customers with the best, most focused product possible.

Editing

So if you’ve already self-edited to polish your work, why am I calling this section “editing”? Because self-editing and proofreading isn’t the same as having someone else look at your work to give you feedback. I know a lot of people cut costs in this area, but if you work with an editor, your final product will be much stronger.

And if you don’t have a great final product, customers will disappointed and less likely to recommend it to their friends.

If you don’t have a big budget, here’s how you can still get a great editor for your product:

  • Trade services with a friend: You edit their new ebook, they edit yours. It’s easier to see mistakes in others’ work. This is a great way to get free feedback and even proofreading services.
  • Offer a free “sneak peak” to your top community members: Give them free access in exchange for providing feedback on your product. This isn’t good for proofreading, but it is good to get general comments on how to make your product better.
  • Work with a VA: Virtual assistants (VAs) are often available at a very low cost, and they do great work. Find someone who specializes in editing and proofreading, preferably in your niche/industry.

Don’t skip this step. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

Packaging

Lastly, once the content of your product is created, you have to package it. You need to design the ebook and create the pdf. Or you need to upload your videos and create a page to host them. Or you need to design your membership site. Or…well, you get the picture.

In the food blogging world, the saying is that people “eat with their eyes first.” In other words, you have to make it pretty if you want to sell it. So don’t skimp on this part either. Hire a designer if you can’t do the work yourself.

Along with packaging, you need a distribution method. Here are a few options:

  • Put the content behind a pay wall on your site. People will need to log in to view and/or download this content. The easiest option for this is a service like Wishlist Member.
  • Use a service like E-Junkie for easy distribution when someone purchases the product. You can also do this through PayPal, though other services allow you to have an affiliate program as well.
  • Manually distribute the product whenever someone buys it. This requires virtual no set-up, but can be too hard to manage depending on your sales. If you go this route, you may need to hire a VA to help with this process.
  • Set up an email sequence to distribute the product. For this option, you’ll need an advanced email management program, like Infusionsoft, where payment processing is also an option.

I can’t give you advice on which mention you should use. That depends on your specific product, the skill level of your customers, your budget, and your projected sales. Look into all of the options and try to stick to just one for all of your products if possible (this is the easiest option!).

Now…go out and create your digital product! Next up, we’ll talk about preparing for launch day. If you missed any of the posts in this series, you can view them below!

See Other Posts in This Series:

  1. Step One: Building Relationships
  2. Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product
  3. Step Three: Creating Your Product (this post)
  4. Step Four: Planning Your Launch
  5. Step Five: Customers Service

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Selling Digital Products on Your Blog (Step One)

Author:

Step One Build Relationships

The right digital product can continue to make you money forever. You want to know how to make money on your blog? Sell your own product and pocket all of the profits instead of just getting a percentage like with affiliate sales.

It’s an appealing prospect: create a product–something that doesn’t require inventory or physical shipping, put it for sale on your blog’s sidebar, and watch the cash roll in. That’s what all the guru-expert-ninja-bad-ass Internet marketers say you can do, right?

In practice, things don’t really happen that way, unless you have one of two things:

  1. A huge audience of millions of people who follow you online and buy anything you try to sell them
  2. A plan

Unless you’re Lady Gaga, let’s focus on having a plan instead! This is my step-by-step guide to selling digital products on your blog the RIGHT way. Yes, it is a lot of work. But trust me, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Step One: Selling Products Online Starts with Relationship Building

Before you sell any product, you need to build two types of relationships: peer relationships and customer relationships. Sometimes there’s a bit of overlap, depending on what you’re selling, but it really depends on your specific market.

Please note: I believe you can start making money from day one, but if you put a product for sale on your blog immediately, before you have much traffic or a strong community, you won’t see much in the way of sales. Instead, consider a free product to get people on your mailing list while you build trust.

Peer Relationships

It’s hard to successfully sell a digital product if you don’t have the backing of your niche community. In other words, when other food bloggers like you, you’re going to be more successful at selling your cookbook. Why?

  • They send traffic to your posts, which can be converted to sales.
  • They review your product.
  • They mention your product to their fans.
  • They become an affiliate for your product.
  • They purchase your product themselves (this is the customer overlap I mentioned).

In the beginning days of blogging, it was fairly easy to get to know other bloggers in your niche, simply because there were only a few dozen people. Today, every niche is crowded. There are thousands of bloggers in your niche, no matter what you write about. Why should they notice your blog? Why should they let you into their circle of trusted friends?

Here are some of the top ways I’ve found to connect with other bloggers, even if you are brand new and don’t personally know anyone else in the niche:

  • Guest Posts

Contrary to popular believe, I’ve grown to learn that guest posting is not just about reaching new readers. In fact, it might actually have very little to do with reaching new readers. Instead, it’s about providing content that the blog owner loves. We’re all really busy. If someone sends you amazing content so you have a break from publishing on your blog, that’s a really good thing! Even better if that post sends a ton of traffic your way.

So write guest posts for other bloggers in your niche. Make sure it is your absolute best work, and support your guest posts with social shares and mentions on your own blog.

  • Community-Building Link Roundups

In every niche, there are certain topics that lots of people blog about. For example, if you’re in the fashion niche, during September and October, many people will likely be posting about fall fashion.

Do some legwork. Reach out to other bloggers, one by one, and ask them to submit a link to their top post about fall fashion (or whatever the topic might be). Then compile those posts into one giant roundup on your blog that includes pictures, links, and encouragement for readers to visit the other bloggers and follow them on social networks.

You can also do something similar, but instead of asking for a link, ask for a tip about a certain topic. For example, if you’re a travel blogger, you might ask other travel bloggers to submit a few sentences about the best restaurant they’ve ever been to or their top tip for traveling with kids. Again, after receiving everyone’s tips, you would create a roundup post on your blog that links back to everyone’s blogs and social profiles.

Doing community-building roundups puts you on the map for other bloggers in your niche, especially if you put work into making them special. Create a button for every participate to display on their blog. Tweet about the post, taking the time to @-reply to each blogger thanking them to participating. Be extremely complimentary about their submissions. Email them the link when it is posted (with no pressure to promote).

  • Social and Blog Interactions

Bloggers make an effort to know the leaders in their own blog communities. If you’re someone who comments on all of their posts, shares all their links on social sites, and otherwise supports their content, they’re going to notice you. Easy as that.

You can also interact with other bloggers by linking to them in some of your posts. Huge link roundups are one thing, but why not also take the time to individually link to specific posts when relevant? For example, if you’re writing about the best ways to use Pinterest, you might link to another blogger’s post on a similar topic.

Don’t be afraid to tell people when you’ve linked to them, but never be pushy about them sharing your stuff. Link to people because you want to show your readers great content and you want to say “thank you” to the blogger for writing it, not because you want someone to share your stuff.

  • In-Person Meetings

When you meet someone in person, it’s easy to remember them. So, if you can meet your favorite bloggers face-to-face, do so! Have an intelligent question ready, and keep the conversation short. You want to be memorable, but not because you droned on and on!

Where can you meet other bloggers?

  1. Events (like NMX of course) where they are speaking
  2. Events they are attending
  3. Book signings
  4. Tweet ups and Meet ups

If you’re going to be in town where one of your favorite bloggers lives, or you know they’re going to be in your town, you can also offer to take them for coffee. Don’t be afraid to ask. Not everyone will take you up on the offer, but heck, I would never turn down free coffee with someone who enjoys my blog!

There are tons of other ways to continue building your relationships with peers in your niche as well, depending on your specific niche. Just keep in mind that you also want to be a giver, not a taker. In other words, when you’re trying to build a relationships with someone, be helpful, flexible, friendly, and kind.

Customer Relationships

At the same time you’re building peer relationships, you also want to be building customer relationships. This falls into two categories:

  1. Reaching new people
  2. Strengthening the relationships you have.

Let’s talk about reaching new people first.

Most bloggers understand that making money is truly a numbers game. The more readers you have, the more money you’ll make. Now, this doesn’t mean that someone with 1000 readers per day is going to make more than someone with 100 readers per day. You can’t compare yourself to other bloggers. But if YOU have 1000 readers per day, you’re probably going to make more money than a few months ago when YOU have 100 readers per day.

So, you want to reach new people, constantly.

Whenever possible, target, target, target. Paying for targeted traffic is an option that we recently covered here on the NMX blog, but even when you’re looking for free (organic) traffic, spend your time looking for readers who are going to be extremely interested in your blog and able to purchase your product. For example, if you’re a food blogger, it probably makes more sense to focus your time on Pinterest than it does to build a presence on LinkedIn.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that strengthening the relationships you have with current readers is just as important, if not more important, than finding new readers. And it’s actually not very hard. Here are some of the best ways to strengthen your relationships with current readers so that someday, when you’re selling digital products, they throw their money at you:

  • Reply to comments. Sometimes you can’t respond to each comment and sometimes you have nothing to say in reply to a comment. That’s fine. But I know bloggers who don’t respond to any comments.
  • Reply to emails. When someone actually takes the time to write out an email to you, that means a lot. The least you can do is respond, as I wrote about here. If you don’t have time to respond, it’s time to hire a VA.
  • Take time to visit your readers’ blogs. I know, I know. There are only so many hours in a day. However, visiting someone’s blog can really make them feel special. So, once or twice a week, sit down and see where your commenters are blogging. Visit and leave a comment. They’ll feel like a rock star.
  • Follow your community on social sites. I really don’t like when I see bloggers following just a few people. It tells me that you want to broadcast your stuff but you don’t give a crap about what your fans are saying. Use the private list function on Twitter, circles on Google+, etc. to filter out the people you know personally so those messages aren’t lost in your stream, but occasionally see what your community is saying.

Most importantly, write content so valuable that they have to keep coming back.

“Valuable” is a term that means different things to different bloggers. It might mean that you write posts that are so entertaining, your readers have to come back for more. It might mean that you write posts filled with information that helps someone reach their own goals, even when nothing else could. It might mean that your content is presented with a unique voice that really makes them think about life in a new way.

In other words, you have to consistently publish content that people can’t get anywhere else. That way, when you have something to sell, people know they have to buy from you, because they aren’t going to be able to get the content they’ve grown to love anywhere else.

To summarize, step one of selling digital products has…well…nothing to do with digital products. It’s all about building relationships with your peers and with your readers!

Stay tuned for our next installment, about figuring out what kind of digital product to create.

See Other Posts in This Series:

  1. Step One: Building Relationships (this post)
  2. Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product
  3. Step Three: Creating Your Product
  4. Step Four: Planning Your Launch
  5. Step Five: Customers Service

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

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