Create your first digital product

Dave Shrein


Creating Your First Product to Sell Online

Wouldn’t you love to feel confident and empowered to create a product to sell online? I know the feeling. Let’s see if the story I’ve lived and seen lived out by hundreds resonates with you.

You created a website.

You started “blogging”.

You shared your posts with friends and damily.

You start sharing your content on social media.

You find people to follow on each network.

You comment on their posts.

They comment on yours.

You start seeing your traffic increase.

In the back of your mind you’ve always wondered, “How am I going to monetize my blog?” and you still don’t have a good answer.

You tried using Google AdSense. You’ve tried affiliate links. You’ve made a few hundred dollars here or there, but it’s nowhere near enough to justify the amount of time you’ve spent building your platform.

The time has come to create a product.

So, the question now is “What should my product be?”

Examples of Products You Can Create

Deciding what your first product should be is a tough question. You’ve never created a ‘product’ before and the only frame of reference you have is what others have done. But you don’t want to copy.

First, you need to understand what a product actually is.

A Physical Product

When we think of products we typically think of widgets we can hold in our hands. A poster, or a backpack, or a shirt, or something else physical. When you go to Kickstarter to view current campaigns the majority of the options available are going to be some sort of physical widget.

You, too, can create a physical product. From woodworking, to plastics, to full manufacturing, if you have a design for a product that will make life easier and better for your ideal client, there is no better time than now to get started.

An Informational Product

Online courses, training videos, educational programs, and books all fall under the category of info product. These products do not necessarily deliver a physical good, but a digital good that can be sent via the internet.

Anyone can create an online course or info product that helps someone else achieve a valuable promised outcome. There is a lot that can go into creating this product, but it’s a great way to get started without much initial investment and maintain some flexibility to pivot based upon the market.

A Service As A Product

I own an online marketing agency called The Blocks Agency. Our work largely revolves around creating online marketing campaigns for business that have a proven product that is sold online. We have developed a collection of processes that allow us to create a digital marketing campaign efficiently and effectively.

Our process is so routine it is essentially a product.

If you offer any type of service, you can develop a repeatable process that can be followed each and every time someone hires you for your service, and in effect, you’ve created a product that you can sell over and over again.

Other Products You Can Sell

The above are only three examples of different products you can sell. Here is a list of additional products you can consider, even if they could technically fall in one of the categories mentioned above:

  • Physical Book
  • Coaching Calls
  • Recommendations
  • Ebooks
  • Worksheets
  • Templates
  • Software Applications
  • Stock Media

Here is the honest truth… there are thousands of people with fewer resources than you who have thought up creative ways to sell a product original to them. If you don’t think you have something to sell, chances are that’s a ‘you’ problem and you’re not thinking big enough.

You do have something to sell. There are people who will be willing to buy it. You need to surround yourself with more individuals who will be honest with you about your talents, gifts, and abilities and challenge you to greatness… not sit back and compliment you on whatever greatness you may have already achieved.

Creating A Digital Product Is the Best Place to Start

If you do not have a physical product you’d like to sell;

If you do not have a service you’d like to turn into a product;

If you do not want to put in the hard work of making it off of affiliates or third party ads;

You should consider creating a digital product.

It may seem like a pipe dream to create an online course or something that people would actually pay you to learn how to do, but it’s not. Far lesser qualified individuals have made far more money than you could imagine selling what they know.

One of the best questions you can start with is: “What do I make look easy that other people consider difficult to do?”

Send an email to 10 people who know you incredibly well. These are not casual acquaintances or people who really only know one side of you. These are people who have been with you over the long haul and have celebrated your wins and mourned your loses. Send them an email asking them to share with you what it is you make look easy that the rest of the world considers hard.

Choose A Direction for Your First Product

The responses you receive back from your one question survey will give insight into what you could offer the world and how you can help someone else change their world!

You’ll most likely get a collection of similar answers that communicate the same idea but from different angles. Establish an overall sentiment and then proceed to answer these next questions. Together, the information should help you feel confident moving forward in a singular direction.

  1. What are the most frequently asked questions you receive from the people who are being impacted by your platform? What are they asking you to help them with?
  2. What is one topic that you know a lot about and, without notes, you could talk about for 30 minutes, not skipping a beat or being hard pressed to answer questions that come your way?
  3. When are you at your best? Are you at your best through written communication? Do you do better with video based communication or illustrated communication? If you’re going to create a digital product you’ll want to make sure that you don’t go down the path of delivering via a medium that isn’t a win for you.
  4. Do you have any unfinished products related to your why that may not be your ideal first product, but could be finished fairly quickly giving you a complete learning experience? Finishing a product will give birth to new ideas?
  5. What service do you do for others that you enjoy and how could you create that into a product?
  6. What are you good at and do not enjoy? Cross off the list anything that you do not enjoy doing – no matter how good you are or how much money you could make. You may come back to it later, but it will steal your joy now and slow down your momentum.

This collection of questions is meant to get you thinking, not necessarily provide you with a definitive direction. Get your mental juices flowing and give birth to some really big ideas!

An Example of a First Product Launch and Lessons Learned

These exercises above represent different processes that I have gone through to build my marketing business, The Blocks Agency, as well as my application, Campaign Donut.

In July of 2014 I was fired from my job and almost immediately decided to launch The Blocks Agency. Shortly thereafter I decided to create my first product.

Twitter had already made a large impact on my life and I had mastered how to use Twitter to build your personal network. But it wasn’t always that way. Twitter had largely been a mystery to me until I learned how to find my people. Once I learned how to find people like me, it became clear how the application was meant to work and how I could use the tool to grow my own personal platform.

So many I knew continued to struggle with Twitter and would ask me for help. I decided to create a course explaining how to use Twitter. That was my first product.

However, there was a huge issue I ran into — I did not pick an audience for my product and just made it for ‘everybody’ which is a huge no no. Truthfully, there were a lot of mistakes I made with my first course, not choosing an audience, was just the biggest mistake.

So side note, if you need help creating the perfect audience for your business or product, check out the episode below from The Donut Shop Podcast: An Honest Conversation About Online Marketing.

Something that’s unique about The Donut Shop Podcast is that I have a co-host, Charissa Saindon. When I created my Twitter course, I went at it solo. Going at something like building a course all by yourself almost guarantees you will not produce your best version of the project and it will be an unnecessarily long process. I learned this the hard way.

I started creating Your Guide to Twitter in August of 2014 and launched it (unfinished) in November. I had hopes of making $5,000 to $6,000 in sales but years later I failed to even reach the $1,000 mark.

The end product was good, and I’m very proud of it, it just didn’t produce the type of revenue I wanted or needed and this article is based upon my failed experience and how I picked myself up afterwards and made each course thereafter better.

But choosing Twitter was a natural fit for me because I knew it well and enjoyed using it. It was easy to teach because the network is very simple but the one piece that is hard to understand is the most important piece: building relationships.

If you want more help to create your first online course, be sure to check out the full article I wrote on how to create your first online course.

An Important Lesson For Your First Product Launch

No matter what you decide to launch as your first product (a course, a book, or something else) you will have very high expectations for yourself and ultimately the return on your investment of time and money.

You will have dreams of the freedom that comes with a product that scales. You’ll have dreams about how much money you’ll make (which you can’t control) and very little clarity on how your product needs to look and how to market it (both of which you can control).

What you must remember throughout the entire process is that this first product is not your last product.

It is more important for you to launch your first product than it is for you to perfect it.

As you go through the process the experience I have shared in this post will make more sense and once you’ve completed your first product and launch, you’ll have hindsight — which will be 20/20.

Don’t Stop Creating Your Product, Keep Moving Forward

This is a new road for you and it’s an exciting one… right now. Along the journey you’re going to encounter obstacles, distractions, criticism, and frustration. And maybe there is even a chance that you are hitting a wall RIGHT NOW, feeling stuck or overwhelmed by all the information contained in this article.

I want you to know that you’re not alone. There are incredible online marketing communities you can join and link up with other entrepreneurs, dreamers, builders, and business owners who can encourage you and help you get unstuck as you go.

Twitter is also an amazing community of online business owners who can inspire your work. I would love to be one of those people! Please take a moment to reach out on Twitter and share what it is you’re building. If I can help, I definitely will! I’m the guy who does whatever it takes to get you unstuck.

Bottom line, take action now and don’t wait for perfection. Action is more important than perfection because without action you have zero chance at perfection… or even 80% of perfection.

Create your first digital product

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