Create Your Own Products
You can use your blog as a home base for products you create and services you design. If you need to make money quickly from your blog and already have a following, this is a fabulous starting point. You can use money from your products and services to fund your blogging growth.
The next chapter covers services in more detail. In this chapter, I want to zero in on product creation, which is one of my favorite ways to monetize a blog.
There are two types of products you can sell: digital and physical. Let’s look at digital first.
Digital products are things that are stored digitally. You don’t need to physically mail them to a buyer. Instead, you deliver it via email or provide access online.
There are many possibilities for digital products. Here are six examples:
> Stock photography
> Video tutorials
Before you jump into creation mode, do some research. See what people need. What kinds of products will your target audience want to purchase? You want to make sure your product fills a need, or it won’t sell. Here are four ways to complete your research:
1. Read the 2-star and 3-star reviews on books in your niche on Amazon. Find out what information readers thought was missing.
2. Head over to Quora.com and see what types of questions relevant to your niche people are asking.
3. Send an email to your subscribers or post a question in a Facebook Group and ask people about their pain points.
4. Create a quick poll for people to take. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all support polls.
While researching, you are in information-gathering mode. Get as much data as you can. Then start sifting through it. Look for patterns. Look for gaps in the existing market. See what people want, and consider what you can create to fill that need.
What are your readers’ biggest pain points? What problems keep them awake at night? What problems are they willing to pay you to solve?
While analyzing your data, try to answer two main questions.
1. What kind of product am I going to create?
2. What is the big picture topic of this product?
Does your tribe need access to high-quality photographs they can use for commercial purposes? Do they need a beginner’s guide to writing web copy?
Are they struggling with time management and wish they had a morning routine checklist to help them stay on track?
Find a need and figure out how to solve it.
Create Your Product
Once you know what you want to make, you can begin creating. Start by outlining. Make sure you know exactly what you need to include to get your buyer from point A to point B.
You don’t want to promise to solve a problem and then create a product that does something else. Stick to the problem and deliver the solution to your customer.
Some products are quicker to create than others. You might be able to knock out a checklist in a couple of hours. An in-depth, video-based course takes a lot longer, as does an ebook.
To estimate how long your creation stage will take, work backward. Decide how many chapters, lessons, steps, etc., your product will have. Then think about how many you can create in one work session. Be honest here, because you don’t want to discourage your progress by thinking you can create it faster than you actually can.
Now you can figure out how many work sessions you need to draft your product. Put the time on your calendar and write down your goal. Share it with someone. Committing publicly to your product creation makes it a lot more real than committing silently.
It may feel strange to tell others about your goals at first, but the accountability is wonderful. Just a simple post on social media works.
Whenever you have extra time, work on your plan. Outline your next chapter. Jot down notes for your videos. Do something every day to make progress on your product.
These baby steps add up. I know from experience, because that’s how I created my course, Balancing Diapers and Deadlines.
Once I had it outlined, I found time each day to write content. Some days I knocked out two lessons. Other days, life was crazy, and it was all I could do to outline a single lesson. But by making consistent progress, I got it done.
Don’t forgo creating a product just because you don’t have a long period to devote to it each day. Baby steps may not race you to the end, but they still get you there.
As you create your product, you might be tempted to keep adding more. I encourage you to be clear about your scope.
Analyze each new idea carefully and see if it’s necessary. If it is, add it in. If not, write it down to address in a future product.
Your first product doesn’t need to include everything. It just needs to offer a solution to the problem you said you’d solve.
And one last word of warning. In his book, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, Jon Acuff talks about the dangers of perfectionism. The desire to be perfect is what keeps many people from finishing projects. He says:
“The harder you try to be perfect, the less likely you’ll accomplish your goals.”
Just accept it right now. Your product won’t be perfect. Every time you look at it, you will think of something you could improve. So, instead of going for perfection, strive for “good” and “done.”
You can always make changes later.
Test Your Product
Your product won’t be perfect, but it should make sense. Get a second set of eyes on it. It’s easy for your brain to miss errors since you’ve been staring at it for so long.
You can enlist some beta testers or hire a professional editor. You could ask a friend to review it in exchange for a couple hours of babysitting.
How you test your product depends on your budget and other resources. But at a minimum, you should get at least one person to review it and provide feedback.
Taking time to test your product will ensure you deliver the best experience for your customers given your available resources. There are many badly compiled digital products on the market today. Don’t add to the list.
Package And Price Your Product
People buy with their eyes. They want to see what they are buying. If your product doesn’t look nice, you won’t make as many sales. Put some thought into your design.
If you aren’t a designer, don’t worry. You can use templates in Canva or PicMonkey to create a beautiful cover or image for your product.
Once you’ve created your product, think about how much you’re going to charge for it. Pricing can be complicated. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. How much time did you put into creating it?
2. Did you invest any money in the creation of the product? (Editing, design, etc.)
3. At each price point you consider, how many copies would you need to sell to break even?
4. How much flexible income do your readers have?
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to pricing. You may consider asking a few people what they think it’s worth. Pick a starting price and go from there. You can always change it later.
Figure Out Your Delivery
How are you going to get your product into your buyers’ hands? Below are five options for you to consider, depending on the type of product you sell and the resources you have available.
Option #1: Third-Party Service
If you’re selling a downloadable product, such as an ebook, a guide, or a checklist, you can use a third-party service to sell. These are free (or paid) accounts you sign up for.
You can upload your file and integrate it to your site with a “Buy Now” button. When a buyer clicks on it, they are sent to the third-party site to complete payment. That site digitally delivers the product.
Here are four services you can compare:
> Easy Digital Downloads (free starter plan)
> Podia (allows you to offer both downloads and courses for $39/month)
> SendOwl (what I currently use, $15/month starter plan)
> Gumroad ($10/month starter plan)
Take some time to read the terms and conditions of each. See which plan will work best for your needs.
Option #2: store plug-in on your website
Another option for selling goods is to turn your website into an ecommerce site through a WordPress plugin.
This keeps you in control of the whole process from start to finish. However, this requires more technical know-how to ensure you integrate multiple components (like a way to get paid and required plugins) correctly.
You can set up your store to automatically deliver digital products after purchase. If you are personally shipping a physical product, you can see the orders as they come in.
One downside of turning your site into an ecommerce site is the increased security you must provide. You need to ensure your customers have a safe and secure connection for payment.
If you’d like to explore this possibility, here are three plugins you can compare:
> WooCommerce (free)
> eCommerce Shopping Cart by WP Easy Cart (free plugin to install, but requires a $50 license to use)
> Cart66 ($9.99/month after a free trial)
If you decide to go this route, make sure your site meets the legal requirements for e-commerce.
Option #3: An Email Course
Some courses work well for delivery via email, especially if they are text based. One possibility is to drip the content out to your readers. When you drip content, you send out one lesson each day or each week over a scheduled period.
If you don’t want your readers to have to wait for the next lesson, you can set up your course on demand. After finishing one lesson, your reader clicks on a button and the next lesson is automatically sent.
The process of setting up this delivery is beyond the scope of this book. There are plenty of YouTube videos detailing the process for the main Email Service Providers.
Option #4: A Course Hosted on Your Site
If you want your students to log into a system to access online course materials, you can install courseware on a subdomain of your site.
On my subdomain, students can access my free and paid courses. It looks different than my main site, because it’s running the theme recommended by the Zippy Courses plugin I use to create the courses.
Your host company should help you create a subdomain. These are free with most companies, but be sure to verify this. You don’t want to wind up with unexpected charges.
Once you have your subdomain, treat it like a brand new site. Install WordPress and the plugins you need for your course.
You can also run a courseware plugin on your main site, but you risk running into compatibility issues with your theme and other plugins.
Here are three plugins you can consider for courseware:
> Zippy Courses Plugin
Option #5: A Course Hosted Via a Third-Party
Many bloggers don’t want to deal with the technical burden of self-hosting their course and integrating with a payment processor. Instead, they opt to use a third-party system.
Here are four platforms for hosting courses:
Make sure to read the details of your agreement no matter which platform or plugin you use. Find out if you need to pay a percentage of your sales, a flat annual fee, or a one-time fee.
Promote Your Product
You can’t just create a product and expect sales to happen. You must market.
Schedule social media blasts. Try to write guest posts on influencers’ sites and mention your product in your bio. Weave it into your blog posts. Send a special coupon out to your list.
If you get good feedback from a student, ask for permission to use their words as a testimonial. This social proof will help you in your promotions.
Keep promoting your product throughout the coming months. You can’t just tell your people once and then forget about it.
1. Decide if you want to offer a product.
2. Pick one type of product to begin with.
3. Follow the steps in this chapter to work through creating your product.
We covered the foundational steps in product creation. If you want to know more about selling digital products, check out our other title Make Money From Online Courses.
In the next chapter, I will dive into services. Offering a one-on-one service is the fastest way to earn money from your blog. You only need a handful of customers to make your first four figures from home.