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

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Step Four Plan Your Launch

You’ve build awesome relationships. You’ve chosen the perfect product topic. You’ve created a digital product that would make your mama proud.

Now what?

“If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work when you create a blog, so why would it work when you create a digital product? If you want to sell more than a handful of copies, you need to plan a product launch to get the word out about how awesome your product is.

Step Five: Plan a Digital Product Launch to Promote Your New Product

The best product launches combine the following pieces:

  • Promotion to your networks
  • Extended network “favors”
  • Affiliate promotions

But before we talk about those things, however, we have to talk about what is perhaps the most important part of your product launch: timing.

Timing Your Product Launch

Someone once told me that if you have a good product, you can launch it any day of the year and be successful. While I do think this is true, if your timing is crap, you aren’t going to maximize your success. If I launch a digital product on Christmas, I might sell 100 copies and deem it a success, but if I had launched another day with the same product, I might have sold 1000 copies…so how successful was I, really?

It isn’t just about avoiding holidays, though.

First, I recommend doing some research to see which day your community is most active. Your list is a great way to do this kind of research. Split test your next few emails by sending to different groups on different days to see if one day has a higher open rate than others. Remember to test weekends as well. Although product launches are typically during the work week, some communities are just online more over the weekend.

Timing your product launch well also means that you don’t start selling your product the day it is done. Yes that new car smell might be enticing, but if you set yourself up for success first, you’ll sell more units!

Something else to consider: People respond well when there’s a sense of urgency. So, make sure you build this into the timing of your product launch. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Make it available early, for a limited time, to a certain group of people, like your email subscribers.
  • Make it available at a lower price point during your “launch” period.
  • Combine it with other products or offers for a limited time.

Promotion to Your Networks

During the creation phase of your product, you should start “hinting” to your community that you have something coming. People love to be in-the-know, so this is a great way to generate sign-ups for your mailing list. Be a little secretive, but release enough details that you’re giving people a juicy tidbit to whet their appetite.

At this point, you should also begin planning how you’re going to promote the full product to your community. This includes:

  • Writing and scheduling tweets, Facebook updates, and shares on other social networks for launch day.
  • Writing and scheduling email blasts to go out to your network.
  • Writing and scheduling a blog post about the product.

Don’t wait for the night before to do these things. Get them written and scheduled so the day of your launch you can focus instead on customer support.

Extended Network “Favors”

Hopefully, you’ve already been working to build relationships with others in you niche and in related niches. Now’s the time to call in some favors. Two to four weeks before your launch day, it’s time to start working with your online friends to get ready for launch day. Here are a few things you can ask for:

  • Guest Posts: Ask your friends if you can publish a guest post with them about the topic of your product. Link to the product at the end of the guest post, in your bio or as allowed by the other blogger.
  • Social Shares: Ask your friends to tweet about or otherwise share the link to your new product or the blog post about the launch. Make it easy by creating a few pre-written tweets they can use.
  • Emails: Ask your friends to mention your new product in their email newsletter or even send a dedicated email to their list.
  • Bonus Items: Ask your friends to provide a “bonus” item (like a short guide or video) that can be given away during your product launch to help entice people to make a purchase.
  • Testimonials: Ask your friends to write a short testimonial about you or (if they’ve seen it) your product.

Remember, to have a friend, you have to be a friend…and beyond that, be careful not to use people. If your primary reason for building a relationship with someone is so they can help you, you’re doing it wrong!

When asking for favors to go with your product launch, be respectful of others’ time and always make it as easy as possible for people to help you.

Affiliate Promotions

Two to four weeks before your product launch is also when you can start working on your affiliate program. You can invite your friends to be part of this, and you can also reach out to your broader community to invite them to take part.

You need a program to manage your affiliates so they get paid and can easily share your content. Here are some of the top affiliate management programs out there for digital product sales:

  • E-junkie
  • Share-a-Sale
  • Commission Junction
  • Has Offers
  • Infusionsoft

Another great option is to work with an affiliate management consultant. This person works on your behalf to increase your affiliate sales, but they take a percentage of the cut. Affiliate managers usually have a specific program they like to use, and they’ll set it up for you from start to finish. Make sure you’re on board with whatever service they’re using though, as the monthly fee or percentage of sale you’ll pay varies from company to company.

For more on affiliate programs, I really like this post: The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Affiliate Program.

Guess What? No Product Launch is Perfect!

No matter how well you plan and how many connections you have, no product launch is without your problems. So, be ready to provide support, and get ready to take notes on what to do differently next time!

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 (this post)
  5. Step Five: Customers Service

Image credit (altered): Bigstock

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

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Step Two Choose the Perfect Product

Yesterday, I started this “selling digital products” series with step one, about building relationships. Today, let’s get into the meat of selling digital products and actually talk about the type of product you’re going to sell.

In the past, I’ve made the mistake of just starting to create, but in actuality, it behooves you to put a little thought into determining what product will be perfect for your audience. It might not be the product you’re initially inspired to create. This is one time that you don’t want to go with your gut, at least without giving your gut’s advice a little thought.

So, the second step in selling digital products is examining your options and choosing what kind of product to sell.

Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product for Your Blog

In thinking about the product you’re going to sell, there are two main things to consider:

  1. Topic
  2. Type of Delivery

Topic is the most important category, so let’s start there–but make sure you read to the end to learn about type of delivery as well, as this makes a difference to your bottom line too.

Your Product’s Topic: How do you choose?

If you want to make money on your blog by selling a digital product, you have to think about what your audience really wants. A poll is a great place to start, but sometimes your audience doesn’t know what they want or need.

To have a better grasp on what will sell, think about Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you’re not familiar with Maslov, his hierarchy lists what people want/need in life, in order of importance to survival. At the base of the pyramid, you have things you actually need to live, like food and water, and as you move up the pyramid, you see other wants/needs in order of importance. This video explains it well:

In the video, the speaker is talking about this pyramid in relationship to helping mental health patients. But anyone who is selling a product, digital or otherwise, should access where their product falls on this pyramid as well.

What problem does your product solve for people? The lower this need, the more people who are likely to buy it. For example, if you’re selling pills someone needs to live, that’s going to be a higher priority for someone than if you’re selling jewelry or tickets to a sports game.

Now, it is possible to sell products no matter where they fall on this hierarchy. But the higher you go on the pyramid, the more money you need people to have. If someone doesn’t have a ton of disposable income, they’re going to spend their money on an ebook about financial planning before they spend their money on an ebook novel.

Of course, not everyone makes smart financial decisions, and some people spend beyond their means, going to the movies when they don’t have enough money for rent. But in general, the higher your digital product falls on the hierarchy, the higher income your average customer needs to have.

Here are some more great tidbits of advice when it comes to choosing the topic for your next digital product:

Product Delivery: What Type of Digital Product to Sell

After choosing a topic, you also have to choose a delivery method for the information. You can choose this first, but I like to think about topic initially, before I decide how to deliver the information. In my mind, topic is key!

Here are some of your options for digitial products:

Ebooks: These can be anywhere from 10 or so pages to hundreds of pages long. The digital formatting means that you don’t have to keep inventory in stock or pay for printing, so you cut your self-publishing costs significantly.

Here are arguments from people much smarter than myself about why ebooks rock:

White Papers: Like ebooks, white papers are traditionally text-based. The terms are actually used interchangeably in many cases, though a white paper delves more deeply into the topic and focuses on thought-leadership, instead of a general overview like you get with an ebook, and are extremely data-driven. White papers also often focus on explaining the specific benefits of a product, service, technique, or way or thinking. They are also usually very text-heavy, as opposed to the “hipper” highly-designed ebooks that many people are producing.

I like to compare white papers versus ebooks to scholarly articles in journals to educational articles in well-respected magazines like Time or Rolling Stone or Popular Mechanics (or whatever is comparable in your niche). Both give you great information, and often cover similar topics, but the scholarly articles are on a different level (though that doesn’t make them better…they are just written with a different goal in mind).

Courses: Sometimes, an ebook isn’t quite as organized as you want the information to be. So, instead you can offer a course with lessons. This allows you to present the content in a way that encourages more action from anyone who purchases it. Course don’t just include text, like an ebook, but also activities for the student to complete. Course can include workbooks, suggested reading lists, videos, and more.

This video from David Siteman Garland is awesome for explaining why online courses are great for packing your information:

Tutorials: Maybe you don’t need a full course on your topic of choice. Maybe you just need a tutorial (which can be text, audio, video, or a combination). Tutorials are shorter, but typically teach a highly-desired skill to learn. For example, you might sell a tutorial on you beauty blog about how to achieve a certain hair style that you’d typically have to pay to get at a salon.

Membership Sites: If you have lots of content to share, a membership site might be the right route for you. Membership sites can include virtually any kind of content – blog posts, interviews, videos, even full courses, and you can also build an “inner circle” community behind the pay gate using forums and other means for members to talk to one another. One of the great thing about membership sites is the recurring revenue stream option. While someone might pay for your ebook once and be done, with a membership site, they’ll pay you a small amount every month, and often, even people who never log in don’t take the time to cancel!

Here are a few resources about why membership sites might be a good option for digital information distribution:

Webinars: You might be able to charge $100 for consulting or coaching on your topic of expertise, but there’s a ceiling with this business model. If you work 8 hours a day, you can only make $800 max. Even if you were super human and could work every single hour of the day, never sleeping, you’re still limited to making $2400 a day. Nothing to sneeze at, for sure, but what if you could do the same work, but make ten times that amount? With paid webinars, you can. Webinars allow you to teach a class on your topic to a live audience, then open the floor for questions. You won’t make as much per person as you would if you were working with them one-on-one, but you still have a higher earning potential this way. Instead of coaching one person for $100 an hour, you can coach 50 people at once for $20 an hour each – and make ten times the amount!

This is not an exhaustive list of infoproducts you can choose to sell, of course! You can sell just about anything if you have a community of willing buyers!

The key is to match your digital product’s topic with the format that makes the most sense. If you’re teaching someone a very visual skill, like how to bake bread for example, you probably want a video tutorial or course, or at least an ebook with a ton of pictures. The answer isn’t always what is cheapest or easiest to make. You’ll sell more products if you really think about what your audience needs, because when people like your product, they tell their friends!

So take some time to brainstorm. Then come back for tomorrow’s post in this series, all about how to actually create your product!

See Other Posts in This Series:

  1. Step One: Building Relationships
  2. Step Two: Choosing the Perfect Product (this post)
  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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