📖 Read time: 6 minutes and 46 seconds
In today’s issue, I’m going to share with you how to convert a product idea into money in your bank account.
If you follow these 11 steps, you’ll drastically improve your chance to become an independent creator.
Upfront validation is essential, but 99% of digital products are launched without it.
In an attempt to make money online, these creators blow their chance:
- They forget about their audience
- They only think about the $$ to be made
- They don’t know how to validate the demand
With so many creators not having a predefined system for doing this, it's time to solve this.
Let's dive in.
Every creator wants to make 💰, but not every creator knows how to do it
After you follow this 11-step process, you will know how to do it:
- Validate the demand for your idea
- Create a product page on Gumroad
- Open your product for pre-orders
- Build V1 of the product
- Invite your audience into the story
- Ask specific creators for feedback
- Collect testimonials upfront
- Ship a lean product
- Market towards your launch day
- Own launch day
- Share the BTS
Read this guide first.
Step 1: Validate the demand for your idea
Before you run out of the gates and start creating your product, gauge the interest for it.
It can be as simple as:
- Ask your audience if they would be interested in X
- Gauge their response (likes/comments/DMs/shares)
- Talk about a problem you see others deal with
- Mention a potential solution
- Ask if people are willing to pay for this solution:
Especially, the last one is often overlooked.
Everyone always wants free stuff, but when it comes to paying the number of interested people decreases massively.
People really talk with their wallets.
It's crucial to capture early interest by having people sign up on the waitlist.
You do this by asking for their email.
Having such a waitlist gives a couple of benefits:
- You collect email subscribers
- You build a direct line of communication with potential customers
- You can create brand ambassadors by giving sign-ups additional bonuses (discounts, extra products, more access)
This is how I gauged interest in the recent LinkedIn video course:
I built a simple landing page with ConvertKit to capture early interest:
Step 2: Create a product page on Gumroad
The easiest way to sell your digital product is with Gumroad.
It's one of the most trusted platforms among creators, so use this to your benefit.
Simply search for something that's similar to your product and get inspired.
🥇 Pro-tip: writing a clear product page forces you cut the crap and be really specific about your product.
Step 3: Open your product for pre-orders
Whilst this might feel too early, you want to validate the demand even further.
Everyone can say they're interested but they will really express their interest with their wallet.
Plus, you only want to start building whenever you get paid.
This is how you make sure to not be left empty-handed.
Finally, you will add a lot of accountability to the mix, as people paid you for something already.
I thrive on pressure like that, but that's not the case for every creator.
As always: it's up to you.
Launching your product as a pre-order is an amazing way to build up momentum.
It invites your audience into the story (more on this in step 5)
The people who purchase a product that is in pre-order and hasn't proven itself, are potentially great brand ambassadors.
People you should keep a close tab on.
Step 4: Build V1 of the product
Depending on the type of digital product you build, this step will be different.
I'll break down the creation of the most recent video course for LinkedIn.
The tools I used:
Some extra explanation about the process:
- I created slides in Google Presentation
- I made videos with Tella, narrating the slides.
- I created sub-pages in Notion to host every module (both text and video)
- I used Gumroad as the product page (more on this in step 5)
- Gumroad was also how I collected payments, combined with Paypal.
- I used ConvertKit to build the landing page for the waitlist and collect email subscribers
- I sent emails from both Gumroad and ConvertKit
- I used my existing audiences on Twitter and LinkedIn for distribution/marketing.
Every module turned out like this ↓↓
Step 5: Invite your audience into the story
Make people part of the process, instead of only showing the end result.
As a result, they're not only part of the success story, but also the learning curve and the inevitable mistakes along the way.
The best part?
You create something that's perfectly fitted to the needs of your audience by holding it in front of them on several occasions.
You do this by sharing updates about the building process, and if possible:
Sharing exclusive behind-the-scenes from "inside" the product.
This will massively increase the hype around your product.
Step 6: Ask specific creators for feedback
Ask specific people for specific feedback: You can ask them about flow, structure, tone of voice, and overall experience.
You want to make sure you pick the brains of serious and relevant people in your network.
You want to ask for feedback from people that are:
- Critical thinkers
You can either select and reach out to certain people, or - as I did - ask your audience who wants to help out.
To make sure you have committed people, it's wise to ask your audience to perform a small action to be part of this feedback phase.
Again, be specific in whose feedback you ask for.
Step 7: Collect testimonials upfront
You can think you have the best product in the world, but if others can't back this up, it's hard to sell anything.
That's why you want to ask specific creators for a testimonial upfront.
The more engaged your audience, the easier this will be.
As you can see in step 3, I often combine the "feedback & testimonial" ask.
This resulted in several testimonials that I could use on the product page:
Step 8: Ship a lean product
Ideas aren't the problem for creators, execution often is.
We all have a million ideas on how we can improve our product, but this often leads to procrastination and perfectionism.
That's why you want to ship an MVP.
This allows you to further validate your idea, iterate on the feedback and build something better.
Important here is that you let your audience know that there's more to come.
A benefit of this is that you can incentivize the people that buy in early for a low price.
With more updates coming, you will obviously increase the price.
In the example of the LinkedIn video course:
I know that the overall package of my video course could be done better.
Notion isn't the ideal fit for a course like this.
But, it allowed me to ship the product in a really accessible way.
My goal for V1 is to focus on the content and to optimize for testimonials.
Based on user feedback, I'm able to create a better V2, hosted on a different platform. (most likely Kajabi). I could be wrong, but I believe this is how I can grow the product in the best way possible.
Step 9: Market towards your launch day
You can have the best product in the world, but if you fail to tell this properly, your product will fail.
The competition is just too fierce.
Tell your audience how your product will solve their problem and how they can get it.
A good way to do this is of course by the regular updates you gave during step 5.
Another option is to send several email updates to the people who signed up for the waitlist.
You want to build momentum and make people excited for what's to come.
Step 10: Launch day
Launch day gives you the excuse to be super vocal for 24 hours.
You can post multiple times, and send your product to people you've interacted with before.
Some best practices you want to be aware of:
- Treat launch as the most important day of your marketing.
- Do something unique to stand out from the crowd (giveaways, virtual events such as LinkedIn Live or Twitter Spaces)
- Ask your creator-friends to engage with your content or share it with their audiences.
- DM it to people who showed interest in the product during the building phase.
PS. Don't forget to update and "reward" your waitlist with a great discount or bonuses. Thank them 🤝
Ideally, you want to have your Gumroad dashboard look like this at the end of launch day, but every sale is one to celebrate.
Especially, if it's your first digital product :)
Step 11: Share the BTS
Well done, you've successfully launched your product.
Now, it's time to scale your marketing effort to sell more copies and improve the product.
A great way to do this is by sharing the behind-the-scenes (BTS).
Twitter and LinkedIn are beautiful places where creators come to learn from each other.
Besides the product you build, others are interested in how you did it.
Don’t be afraid to lift up the curtain and show your audience how you build your product.
This is a great way to give extra exposure to your product and rejuvenate interest among your audience.
Finally, sharing the imperfect moments during the creation is also a great way to show personality and let the audience connect more.
For example, I shared a video with a blooper here:
I enjoyed breaking down my process and writing this email for you, I hope you found this valuable.
I'm aware of the fact that not every aspect is 100% covered in detail, otherwise, this guide would have been 5X longer.
If there's any element unclear to you, or you want to chat about a specific part, don't hesitate to reach out to me.
Your Personal Creator Guide.
PS. If reading this how-to guide made you interested in the finished video course, grab your copy with a nice little discount here.