Online courses, e-books, subscription services, webinars – and there are so many other e-product variations to choose from. How to decide what should be your first digital product?!
Coming up with a passive or creative income source is a great way to diversify your online income. If you’re a freelancer or online business owner, it’s only a logical step to take – to create an e-product. But where to get started and how to make up your mind about your first digital product?
In this post, I’ve given you an insight into various online products and what will it take to make your first digital product happen. You’ll also find other blogger and online business owner opinions later in the post.
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Things to keep in mind before planning your first digital product
- Any of these could just as well take the same amount of time. Just because e-book might read as an easier option than an online course, it doesn’t mean it is so. Especially, if writing, for example, is not really your jam.
- It’s important to keep in mind what your potential audience will be interested in. At this point, it’s a lot like a prediction game since it’s your first product. It’s great to make some surveys and maybe see what other people in your niche are doing. Just because you feel like something will work, might not just cut it.
- Pour your heart and soul into it but don’t get surprised if this doesn’t go your way. It took me 3 courses that were sold from zero to three people until I started realizing my mistakes and put intense work into correcting them. The reality is – the first product rarely works. And even if it does, it will, most likely, request a dose of additional time and research from you to make it happen.
- Do it before you’re ready. Just like many other things in our lives, it’s important to take the leap before you’re really ready. Your product won’t ever be truly perfect, there’s always something more you could do and you won’t ever be able to learn ALL to make the perfect move. So just go for it!
The differences between various digital products
These days, under the term “e-book”, hides many different variables.
It can be a compelling guide to something with more than hundreds of pages. It can just as well be an experience story, with a few tens of pages.
Although writing an e-book very often seems like the easy way out, it might not always turn out to be such.
First of all, remember that along with e-book writing will come a lot of research, figuring out the structure of the book, designing it, creating a cover and other minor details that might take your time and resources.
Of course, if it’s your first product and your price point is going to be low (or it’ll be given away for free), you don’t have to bother much about such details.
Another thing to remember: to write a sellable e-book, you need to have good English, as well as editing skills or the option to hire an editor.
An e-book as a product is just that – an e-book. Meaning, all people will pay the attention to is your advice or experience and the way it’s written. If the language is hard to read or full of mistakes, your e-book won’t cut it.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing an e-book:
- Don’t overestimate yourself. Writing an e-book seems like an easy option until you get into that. You have to have a clear vision of how you want this book to turn out so you don’t waste your time on redoing sections, changing chapters, etc.
- Make sure to do a lot of the research. It seems like a terrible idea to write about something that turns out not to be true or giving away false advice.
- Proofread it more than once and make sure to give it to someone else to reread as well. Use a friend if you can’t manage to hire an editor.
Check out this Guide to E-book writing and publishing for starters if you’ve set your mind to it!
This definitely is one of the hardest e-product to work on because it’ll take a lot more than just writing and creating the product itself. But it could just as well be your first digital product.
Once again, the final amount of work will depend on your goals, your vision of how the course should be. There is no one right way you should always follow.
In general, courses consist of various learning materials: text, video, audio, workbooks. Which of these will you add to your course depends on you.
A simple and rather cheap course can consist of written material only. Although it is suggested and preferred to have a variety of materials to learn from. A more in-depth and extensive course should have video or audio material as well, including additional bonuses like worksheets.
Another thing to remember – to sell a course, especially at a higher price, you need to have trust from your readers and followers. If you’re starting from ground zero – people won’t trust your knowledge and skillset if they don’t know you.
Although any of your e-products will need some marketing efforts to make sales, e-courses might request most of this and extensive knowledge or, at least, a big willingness to learn about various online marketing methods.
How to set up an online course?
- Choose a topic you want to cover
- Create a curriculum outline, separate your course in modules and lessons
- Create materials (PDFs, Videos, Presentations, Worksheets, whatever rocks your boat!)
- Choose a platform. My absolute favorite is Teachable! Learn to create a free online course on Teachable
- Promote & sell!
What to keep in mind before starting an online course:
- Along with course creation, you also have to build trust with your audience to make sales.
- Most online courses will request more than just content. You’ll have to create a variety of materials to learn from, as well as establish good branding and work on marketing.
- Don’t get into online courses if you don’t know what to teach or have only a vague knowledge of what your audience needs. You could waste tons of your time!
- Start with a smaller course, maybe even create a free course instead of a paid one. This will give you the option to establish an audience interested in what you’re selling.
- Online course creation platforms: Teachable vs Thinkific
- Lessons I learned while creating my first online course
I like to think about this as a rather controversial way of earning passive income and not the best choice for your first digital product. However, it’s always worth the consideration!
First of all, it’s close to impossible to create a subscription-based service without a good follower base.
Besides that, it definitely takes A LOT of time to create and maintain such a service.
There are all kinds of subscription services available online. Some are, for example, monthly access to stock photos or access to a variety of WordPress themes.
There are other types – not related to online businesses – as well. For example, a service that sends you a few pairs of new socks to your house each month. This is just one sample, there literally are tons to choose from.
The baseline is – no matter what you’ll be providing for this monthly payment, you have to keep providing new, relevant and useful products each month.
What to keep in mind before creating a subscription service:
- To get a trusted audience, you need a crowd interested in you before you’re getting into this business.
- For a successful subscription service, you have to make sure that you’ll be able to provide the value for the price they are paying, each week, month or year (based on the type of subscription).
- Convince someone to make a one-time purchase is a lot easier than convincing the same person to get into a long-time commitment.
- Most likely, you’ll need at least a small team to keep this going.
Webinars, live online classes or seminars
No matter how you call them, the baseline is one – any of these products is an online class, most likely, happening in real-time.
Basically, it’d be like being a speaker at a festival or leading a seminar. You’re providing information for one specific topic or several of those and people can not only learn but also to ask questions, maybe fill some tasks and do some other activities with you in real-time.
To pull this off, you need to be a good speaker in the first place. You also have to be more than very experienced and knowledgeable about your topic.
It’s one thing to create content – you have time to think, review and edit. It’s another thing to talk in front of the public when there’s a crowd waiting and listening, and you have to KNOW right there what you’re going to say and make sure that it’s valuable.
It’s alright to practice with free webinars, for example. No one is born perfect and public speaking is something you can learn just as well. But if people are paying for your speaking – you better be prepared!
Opening an e-shop is yet another rather everything-is-possible thing to get into.
First of all, you can literally sell almost anything in an e-shop. But to be truly authentic I’d suggest sticking with your own created products.
Whether those are crafts, interior decors, website themes, furniture, clothing or anything else, you, first of all, need to have this trade.
Opening and maintaining e-shop might not be as passive as e-books or e-courses. After all, you have to create what you’re selling, stock up if you’re selling physical products, follow seasonal and holiday changes, always come up with something new because selling the good old might not always be as good idea.
Besides that, opening and owning an e-shop could ask from you a lot more than just coming up with the products to sell. If you’re going all in, you will have to learn some marketing tricks, explore tech side of online ordering, get into payments and much more.
The best ideas for your first digital product
First of all, start with something you WANT to create. If you’ve read that e-books are an easy option to start with – great, go for it! But if you’re not into writing and have no interest in trying to sell an e-book, well… please, do choose another digital product to get started with!
You don’t need any previous experience or knowledge on how to make these happen – there’s a plenty of information on the internet. But what you will need is motivation and willingness.
No matter what will be your first digital product you decide to create, don’t aim for the most information-packed or in-depth project right away. Give it a go with a simple topic and a rather easy structure. Fewer lessons, fewer pages. Keep your focus straight and figure things out first!
Here are what other bloggers have to say about this:
For that reason, I recommend e-books for new e-product creators. There’s an extremely low barrier to entry with e-books. If you can write a blog, then you can write an e-book too. I don’t think your first e-product needs to be a massive creation like a twenty-module e-course that takes you months to put together and launch. It’s best to test the waters with something small and easy to create like an e-book!
My top suggestion for someone getting into e-product creation is to do market research before you start. The last thing you want to do is launch a product that no one buys. One way to do market research is by checking your blog analytics to see what your most popular posts are so you know what kind of content your audience is interested in. It’s also a good idea to survey your audience directly, either by sending something out to your email list or asking for feedback in relevant Facebook groups you’re part of.”
– Coco // Sharingblogging and online business tips at www.blogdarling.co
“Last year I launched my very first online shop. For years I had been interested in ecommerce, reading everything I could to learn more about it. In 2017 I finally decided to try it for myself. I started my shop, A Book of Words, as a side project. After I settled on an idea (selling typography prints), it took me a few months to research the specifics, order samples & build my store. Because my budget was small, I opted for print-on-demand.
Using print-on-demand allows me to spend more time on my shop and marketing, instead of handling inventory & packing/shipping orders. All in all, setting up my store was easier than I had anticipated. Sure, there were some things that took time to figure out (taxes and shipping come to mind), but it was a great learning experience. Launching my website actually turned out to be the hardest part of all, because there was always something I wanted to change or improve.
Building a shop takes time and hard work, but I really enjoy it and it never feels like work. If you’re interested in starting your own shop, my advice would be: just start! Don’t overthink every tiny detail. Of course everything has to be setup so it works, but obsessing over details isn’t going to help. You’ll make mistakes, but you can always adjust and apply the things you learn along the way. I read a lot about ecommerce before I started, but I learned so much more from actually launching my store!”
– Celine Adam // Freelance Assistant & Owner of A Book of Words
If you’ve decided to create your first digital product – stick to your guns. Create it, gather feedback, improve and learn. At the end of the day, all of us are just trying things out. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t give it a go!