Here's what I learned from launching my second digital product
Here’s what I learned from launching my second digital product
A few weeks ago I launched my second digital product, the Income Tracker Spreadsheets, and I wanted to share my thoughts, observations and lessons learned from this project.
I really enjoy reading these sorts of “behind the scenes” posts from other business owners and for me personally, it’s fun to look back on them a few months later.
First and foremost, I’m a web designer/developer but as I start expanding my offerings to include digital products, I want to write about my experience (while it’s still fresh) and fill you in on what it’s really like to take an idea and turn it into something that you sell on your website.
Grab a drink and get comfortable because this is a beast of a post. Let’s jump right in!
The stages of launching a product
IDEA > BUILD > LAUNCH > MONETIZE > GROW
This blog post focuses on the first three stages of product life cycle. Maybe I’ll write more about monetize, automate & grow as a follow up in the future but I wanted to publish this while everything is still fresh in my mind.
OK so first off, when you are creating a product (same general idea for service but we’ll stick to products here), you first have to start at the IDEA stage. There are a few ways to go about this but generally you can either build something that interests you OR you can build something that solves a known problem.
Your product can take off and be successful both ways, but generally speaking, it will be easier to market and sell a product if you already know that people are asking for it. I chose to create a product that solved a “problem” that I was already familiar with (more on this below) because I figured if people kept asking for something and I could create it for them, they would buy it. In my case, people really liked my Website Growth Tracker but the biggest bit of feedback was that they wanted to dive deeper into the money pages.
That took care of the first stage, which is the IDEA stage. Once I had an idea, I whipped out my notebook and started planning out the product. I went back through the customer feedback from the WGT that related to the product I had in mind, made notes on it and figured out how I would incorporate the requests or address their problems in this new product.
I outlined the content of the product (e.g., what pages/sections to include) and made notes on how I wanted to build that out (i.e., monthly vs yearly, timeline graph vs table, etc.). Basically I thought about what I wanted people to get out of this product and what results they could expect if they used it, and planned the idea out BACKWARDS from there.
Next up was the BUILD stage. This was pretty easy because I had already done most of the planning in the Idea stage so all I had to do know was create it. I built these spreadsheets in Google Sheets and leveraged some of the sections from the WGT but expanded it in this new product. This part was the most fun, in my opinion.
Once Version One of the Income Tracker Spreadsheets was done, I sat on it for a few days before going back and doing a final review before publishing it. I made sure that all the pages were there, the tables and charts worked with example filler data, the date ranges made sense, and that the automations & formulas worked and auto-populated correctly. I tried not to get hung up on making the product design super pretty (because spreadsheet aesthetics is not my forte) and instead focused on functionality and making sure that it worked how I wanted it to.
After the product was built, I moved onto stage three which is the LAUNCH stage. I’ll expand on this further in Lesson 1 below but this part was fairly easy because I had already launched a similar product so I knew what to do. From a technical standpoint, selling a digital product isn’t hard. In my case, all I had to do was upload the new product to my Squarespace “store” (see that here) and fill out the required fields before pushing it live. I also chose to create a bigger product page (see it here), like I’d done with my Website Growth Tracker, because I knew that would help to explain the product and how it works. I also recorded a video tutorial that shows the Income Tracker Spreadsheets in action, but this step didn’t take too much time.
I might do another post to talk more about how to market a digital product but this post is already long enough so that will have to wait :)
Ok so now that I have give you a look at HOW and WHY I built this second digital product, let’s take a look at the lessons I learned, takeaways and other observations.
Lesson 1 : Creating and launching a product is easy if you’ve already done it
I launched my first product, the Website Growth Tracker, in summer 2017 but I sat on the idea for literally MONTHS before I created it. For some reason I had a major hangup about creating a digital product to sell on my website - I thought it would be hard, that I would mess it up, waste a ton of time and that it would be a total flop that no one would buy. I had all these (unfounded) fears of failure that held me back until finally I got over myself, pushed past those mental blocks and just launched the dang thing. And wouldn’t you know it, the Website Growth Tracker was a bonafide success!
Creating my second product (the Income Tracker Spreadsheets) was infinitely easier because I’d already proved to myself that people would buy my product(s) so I was less scared to try it out. I knew how to listen to customer feedback and create something of value from it, which is what I did with these spreadsheets, and this time I around I was able to move much faster from idea to finished product.
Even the little things were simpler : I already had a platform on which to sell my product (i.e., my Squarespace website), an audience to market it to, and an understanding on how to create “hype” around it.
Lesson 2 : Creating a second product is FUN
I touched on this in Lesson 1 but launching a second product is way more fun than launching your first. I was a bundle of nerves before I launched the Website Growth Tracker but this time around, I didn’t take it too seriously and instead had a “why the heck not?” attitude. After my brainstorming session, I felt energized and ready to CREATE, so I let those feelings drive the idea to build to launch process.
Because I already sort of knew what to do (because of my experience launching a first product), I was able to move quickly and with way more confidence. It was FUN to take customer’s feedback from the WGT and turn it into something new that solves a problem.
As I built out the Income Tracker Spreadsheets, I got a little thrill every time I finished a sheet and it felt awesome once the whole thing was done. Even writing out the product description page was fun because I was happy to show off this new product that I had worked on. It didn’t feel like soulless selling but instead it was like “hey check out this cool thing I built, I think you’ll like it and it will help you grow you biz!”.
Also, I had more fun launching this second product because I didn’t put a huge amount of pressure on it’s success. My business would carry on as normal and this new product would either add to it or nothing would happen (i.e., if it flopped, there wouldn’t really be a downside but if it took off, there was potentially something to gain).
Lesson 3 : Sales on other products will also increase
My original digital product, the Website Growth Tracker, has been live on my site since summer 2017 and sales have been steady since then. There was a bump in the new year as people purchased the updated 2018 version but since then, sales have been pretty level.
I noticed, however, that launching a second product resulted in a spike in sales from the first. Maybe it’s because people are in the buying mood or maybe it's because a new product announcement draws attention to the OG product, I’m not really sure. It could also be because people can see how the two products compliment each other? Maybe it’s because the price point is so reasonable that customers decide to get both products as a bundle? I can’t be 100% sure why this happened but I’m definitely not complaining!
Lesson 4 : Give the people what they want
Coming up with an idea for a product doesn’t have to be hard and you don't need to reinvent the wheel. In fact, sometimes it’s the ideas that are staring you right in the face that are the ones that will be the most successful!
Strong sales of my first digital product, the Website Growth Tracker, validated my offering and proved to me that people would buy the stuff I created. The biggest piece of feedback I received from those customers was that while they loved the revenue page in particular, they wished that it was more robust, that it dove deeper into different income/revenue streams and that it was generally broken down further with websites and online businesses in mind.
Ask and ye shall receive, my friend!
I knew that people were asking for this so I listened to their feedback and created a product around it. I already had a validated idea so I felt confident that this product would solve their problems and be of value to this customer base.
If you receive the same feedback and requests over and over again, it might be time to create something to address that need.
Lesson 5 : Don’t sit on an idea for too long
I’m including this point as a “lesson learned” for myself because when I look back on the process, I really could and should have launched the Income Trackers Spreadsheets ages ago.
I like to think of a product creation process in several stages (the first three are idea / build / launch) and I definitely got hung up in the idea stage. I kept hearing the customer feedback and was hung up on actually doing something with it, even though the idea was planted in my mind. It took me much longer than it should to move to the build stage and that’s a big takeaway from this second product launch.
If I were to do it over again, I would remind myself to get to work on an idea and build it without delay. Keep it simple and don’t over-think it : create, launch and refine later.
I had the Income Tracker Spreadsheets idea in my head for a while (at least since the new year) but instead of actually building it, it hung around my To Do list for months. This is silly because in reality it only took a few hours to build from start to finish. It’s a set of spreadsheets, for crying out loud!
I’m the first to admit that I’m not a spreadsheet genius. My pages aren’t the most gorgeous things you’ve ever seen and aesthetically, there’s room for improvement. But in terms of content, functionality, and value, I know the product delivers.
Take an idea and create a product within that scope and give yourself grace to go back and edit/update/improve as you go. Obviously you want to release a GOOD version 1 of the product but at the same time, don’t let perfectionism hold you back.
Next time around, I’m going to let “done is better than perfect” be my motto so that I can ship my product much faster! And I can always go back and refine it once it's launched.
Lesson 6 : Build in automation
People love automation because it makes it stupidly easy for them to use your product correctly. They’re looking for results with as little effort as possible, and automation is great because it takes away redundant steps.
For example, I built automation into the Income Tracker Spreadsheets so that you don’t have to input the same value in multiple places - instead, the value will automatically populate the required sections. There’s no need to enter the same data in multiple places when you can automate that shiz!
Not only does this save time, it also leaves less room for human error and gives people more confidence in the data.
Lesson 7 : Ask people to buy it
I was reminded by an online business friend that people are more likely to buy your product if you actually ask them to.
Use clear language, create direct call to actions, add obvious BUY buttons, and ask them to purchase your product. I added a bunch of buttons that look like the ones below to various blog posts and noticed that people are way more likely to click on a button than a basic text link. There's no grey area in the language here - people know exactly what action they are being instructed to take.
Buy buttons (like the ones below) are a clear Call To Action (CTA) that are hard to ignore and convert higher than in-text links.
It seems obvious but it works!
Show and tell potential customers what they are getting if they purchase your product. Make it clear that you have something to sell and be super explicit that you’ve created this product to help solve a particular problem.
I do this through an in-depth product page and video walkthrough so people know exactly what they are getting and how it will help them. I ask them to purchase my product but I also show them how it can help them and what value they will get from it. Once they have this info, they are way more likely to whip out their credit card and purchase the product.
Lesson 8 : Create blog content around your product
Something I did differently in the launch of my second product is that I created a lot of blog content that includes information about the Income Tracker Spreadsheets in it. When I was planning out my blog content calendar, I brainstormed several blog posts ideas that would mention or pitch the Income Tracker Spreadsheets and published them close together.
Here are some of the blog posts I wrote around the Income Tracker Spreadsheets:
- Announcement : Income Trackers Spreadsheets are now live!
- Everything you need to know about monetizing your website
- Why do people struggle to monetize their websites?
- How much does it cost to run a Squarespace website?
It took a lot of time to plan out, create and publish this content but I did this for a few reasons, which I'm happy to go over with you.
First of all, someone might find one of these blog posts (e.g., on Pinterest or a search result) and be introduced to me/my biz/my brand/my product(s) for the first time. By mentioning and pitching my Income Tracker Spreadsheet in those blog posts, I could potentially make a sale from a person who was not previously part of my audience and had no clue that this product even existed.
The blog posts are a way to attract people to my site, educate my audience and get more sales.
I also sent out a product announcement email to my newsletter, which I hadn't done before. I didn't go in hard with email marketing because in total honestly, that is not one of my strengths, but I definitely see the value in my email list.
This obviously wasn't a full PR roll-out or anything but it was a fun thing to try out!
TL;DR : Creating and launching a second digital product is easy and fun if you’ve already done it before, but you still have to have enough discipline to take an idea and turn it into something. It can be tempting to sit on an idea for months (or longer) but I have learned that it’s better to create and build the dang thing and not let perfectionism hold you back.
If you know that people are asking for something or that there’s something you can do that will make their lives easier, help them out and build something that is the solution to their problems! People will purchase your product if you show them it’s value, it’s as simple as that.
I’m definitely guilty of sitting with an idea for longer than I should but now that I’ve launched two products, I am even more motivated to create and ship new products in a shorter timeline. The worst that can happen is that it will flop, and that’s really not the end of the world. Either refine and re-launch, or move on to the next idea!
Now it’s your turn to tell me, have you launched a digital product before? Do you sell it on your website? How long did it take you to go from idea to build to raking in that cash money? Any lessons you’ve learned along the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the product or this type of "lessons learned" blog post so leave me a notes in the comments down below!
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