In today’s digital world, you can sell almost everything online. E-books, online courses, productivity apps, and even “digital-only” banks have shown the diversity of products and services that can be offered as digital merchandise.
This is great news for creators. Whether you’re a programmer, artist, educator, accountant, professional cleaner – the digital space is no longer just some place to advertise. It has become a platform to directly sell your expertise.
Everyone with a computer and internet access can create digital products today. The entry barrier is very low. And that’s exactly what makes it so hard to be successful. Simply creating a digital product/service doesn’t mean people will pay for it.
Whatever digital product/service you plan to create, this guide shows you how to increase the odds that people buy it. I’ve learned these lessons from creating and selling more than a dozen digital products.
1. Commit to excellence
First, ask this question: “What is my purpose as a digital entrepreneur?”
If the answer is “to make money,” then digital entrepreneurship (or any entrepreneurship) won’t make you that quick buck. Forget all the nonsense you see on YouTube, Medium, and IG ads. 99% of that stuff is a lie. A business does not exist to generate money for its creator. No, as Peter Drucker famously said:
‘The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.’
You can’t create or keep a customer if your business doesn’t provide value. So focus on committing to creating an excellent product or service. It’s not enough that your business is “good enough.” That’s the quickest way to failure.
2. Create something you know a lot about
People pay someone because they know that person can do it much better than they can. They pay for a meditation app that makes their lives tranquil, buy personal development books filled with insights they never realized, or hire yoga coaches who guide their breathing better than they ever can on their own.
People pay for expertise, experience and knowledge. So stick to doing something that you’re good at. Be excellent at it, and keep getting better. And what’s a better thing to do than something you’re already good at?
This doesn’t mean you should know everything from the start. You can always figure things out as you go. The important thing is to know your strength and leverage it to your customers’ maximum benefit.
3. Focus on a broad audience, but offer a unique solution
The Waking Up app by Sam Harris targets a broad audience: The wellness industry. But his solution is specific: Mindfulness meditation.
Though meditation is very popular, it doesn’t work for everyone. Even then, different techniques work for different people. And this is the source of Sam Harris’ success. I’ve tried many different meditation apps but none of them stuck with me until I used Waking Up. Why? It was one solution. And that solution happened to work for me perfectly. But it doesn’t work for everyone.
However, if you go TOO narrow, you’ll end up with a very small market. If you go too broad, you’ll get lost. So pick something that a lot of people are interested in, but offer a solution that’s not for everyone. It sounds confusing at first, but if you look closer, this is what a lot of successful businesses do.
Take Mark Manson’s book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”. It’s targeting the self-help industry, but his style will only appeal to a certain group. I know several people who don’t like that book at all. I’m one of those people. I like his ideas but his writing style annoys me.
And that’s exactly what makes Manson successful. By excluding others in a wide target market, he has created a very specific following. Hence, don’t try to appeal to everyone.
4. Create something people are already buying
People’s actions reflect their needs and wants. If they’re buying something, it means they already want and need it.
Always remember that, when you’re creating a new product. Being innovative is important because it makes your business unique. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It’s tempting to think that you can become the next Thomas Edison. But that’s not necessary if you want to create a profitable online business.
I’ve created more than a dozen digital products. I’m honest; none of my products are truly innovative. I create things that are already proven. It’s also one of the main strategies I teach in my course, digitalbusiness.school. You simply have more odds of succeeding if you create something people are already buying. Now, you only have to make it better.
5. Start charging for your product/service
So you’ve done your research and maybe even did some tests. Then you create something that solves a problem with a unique solution. Your product/service is done and ready. What do you do?
You don’t give it away for free. You charge a reasonable amount for it. Always check the existing average price range of similar products/services in the market. You can start with a lower price and gradually increase it as you go. But the important thing is putting a price tag on it.
This is key. Will people want it enough to pay you money? Don’t worry if you’re not gaining traction immediately. With everyone in the world competing for attention, you need to actively offer your product.
That’s why you need to create a good website. I put together a guide with my tips for building a website without knowing how to code. Feel free to check that out if you’re looking for tips.
Your website obviously won’t sell itself. That’s why I recommend everyone to build an email list. I’ve tried many different solutions, and I’m using Kajabi now. But to be honest, any provider will do when you get started. What matters is that you build an audience that’s interested in your product/service.
6. Create or join a network of entrepreneurs
Every successful person is supported, mentored or befriended by other successful people. Don’t go at it alone. To improve yourself, you want to exchange knowledge and ideas with other entrepreneurs.
We are surrounded by many people, virtually and physically. But it’s not so easy to find like-minded people who can truly support our goals and values for success. For example, can you rely on friends and family for experienced and knowledgeable insights regarding your business?
As much as I love, respect and even admire my close friends and family members, I have to be honest and admit that they’re not the right people to advise me on this.
So I created The Sounding Board: a private community of like-minded individuals, with varying interests as entrepreneurs. It’s a welcoming place for people to exchange insights, test business ideas and learn from each other.
7. Love your products and customers
You’re in business for three reasons: your products, your customers, and your passion for them both.
If you lose sight of any of the three, your business won’t succeed. Creating and selling digital products and services is a process, not an end. Sure, your customers buy your “end”, but you can only achieve a good result if you enjoy the process that it requires.
Passion can be a tricky thing; it’s all about letting it find you, and not the other way around. By being true to our products and customers, we can thrive.
Creating a digital product/service is both difficult and rewarding. It’s a way for creators to finally make good money out of their expertise, knowledge, and experience. With the right tools and the best people around, you can learn faster and make a bigger impact on people’s lives with your products.
Full Disclosure: This article contains some affiliate links. As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you. I never recommend anything I don’t use or wholly support.