Before you start creating your first online business, it’s good to step back and decide what your actual product will be. With a bit of foresight you can plan the future of your product(s), and maximize the sales process.
If you run an offline business, think about how you may be able to apply the specialist knowledge in creating a digital product. I will try to give some examples for each of the following types. The trick here is to think laterally, and not focus too much on specifics, but the general concepts.
At the bottom of the scale, text products are the easiest to create, but will make you the least amount of money. And at the other end of the scale, software products or services are the hardest to create, but can return you the most amount of money.
Let’s have a look at the five product types...
1. Text Products
Text products are the easiest, fastest and cheapest product for you to create. Being at the bottom of the scale they will probably make you the least direct profit.
E-books are one example of a text product. They take almost no investment – just your time researching your topic and then writing it. (Or the cost of having one ghost written for you.)
Or you could create an e-course. This is where you set up a simple opt- in form where customers can sign up to your course. Then you put your content into a series of e-mails that you load into an autoresponder, to send out your course automatically.
Text products are used to build your credibility and authority as well as to generate leads. When you create free products and give them away as lead generators for your other products, you’ll earn trust. They can also be low-cost leader products, to direct prospects on to higher priced products.
If you are a florist, consider a book on the art of flower arranging and how to choose the correct flowers for the correct occasion. This could also make a great e-course.
You may also want to write a free report on how to make your cut flowers last longer, or the top ten common mistakes most florists make when building a bouquet.
If you are a plumber, think about writing a free report on the 10 most common shortcuts plumbers make to cut corners on a job and what to look out for as a customer.
In doing so you will build assumed trust. (People will assume that because you are pointing these out, you would not do the same. Hopefully a correct assumption.)
You can use these reports to build lists of potential prospects. This can be useful when you want to offer a promotion at slow times. Essentially this gives you the ability to run almost zero cost advertising with almost instant results when you need it most.
2. Audio Products
Audio products require a bit more effort to create than text products, but are still in the ‘easy basket’. Because audio has a higher perceived value, you can command a higher price point than text products.
Take the e-book that you’ve written and simply record yourself reading it aloud. If you don’t like the sound of your voice, or if you want a certain accent for a specific market, you can have someone else read it. It’s easy to do a teleconference call. Organize an expert to come on your call and interview them. Have other listeners ask their questions while you steer the conversation to access helpful information for your listeners.
You can conduct interviews over Skype. Ask the person you are interviewing thought-provoking questions while you record the call. Later you can edit it if you need to, or transcribe it as the base for a text product.
Although I have heard this suggested many times, a lot of people ignore the idea, thinking it can’t be that easy. Yes it is. I know many products made this way in just a day or two. Once you have the system in place, audio products can be some of the fastest and easiest to create.
If you run some type of coaching program or service, then to create an audio course should be a must. If you run a natural health clinic, then interviewing world experts to create an audio program could be leveraged in so many different ways.
You could use it to sell online to customers who live too far away to see you in person. You could sell it to existing clients, or use it as a giveaway on the first visit.
You could use it as a way to build credibility through association (a very simple but effective strategy for building authority).
When other people see your name or face next to a well-known celebrity or leader in a particular niche, then some of their authority status will be transferred to you. This happens completely subconsciously and is therefore, an extremely powerful technique.
If you run a natural health clinic, then interviewing world experts to create an audio program could be leveraged in so many different ways. The possibilities here are endless.
3. Video Products
Video products are once again another perceived notch up the scale in difficulty from audio products.
Until you are familiar with how to create video products, it can be more time consuming (unless you outsource the work). But it’s more a psychological barrier that stops many people from attempting video products.
With the easy-to-use tools that are available these days, using video can be a fast and easy way to create a digital product that you can sell for a lot more money. Because video has a higher perceived value than text or audio products, you can ask for a much higher price.
When you create short video clips, you can then use them to build traffic. With good video you can quickly build up your e-mail list by generating leads from YouTube or other online video networks.
Video interviews are easy to do. Just as with audio interviews, you can have a guest come in who is an expert in your niche. Just record your video call on Skype, or in person with some relatively inexpensive equipment.
Webinars are another way to create video content (as is filming a live event). Just present your content and record. Some basic editing after you finish and your product is ready to go.
The great thing about video is, it can be another powerful way to build trust. People get a real feel for you in video and so building rapport can be much easier.
If you are a car mechanic consider making a YouTube series on basic home repair tips. Truth is, most people will be too lazy to fix their car themselves; but for those who do, will still remember you when something more difficult comes along.
Used car salesmen could create a video series on what to look out for when buying a used car. Again this will build assumed trust. You can then offer this information for free from your online or newspaper advertising.
If you do a good job, people will share the videos and you will generate a lot more leads through word of mouth. Music or martial arts teachers could easily create video courses to sell to students for extra home study, or to make money from students who live too far away for in-person lessons.
Remember, this not only builds additional passive income, but builds authority too and therefore increases the rates you can charge for lessons.
4. Membership Sites
Membership sites can provide recurring income. Though not usually for as long as most people would like. The reality with membership sites is that people drop out after only 3-4 months on average. Using the micro continuity model instead, is highly recommended.
This is where the program is a fixed length, for example 6 months. By doing this, you increase the average length of time someone remains with your program and you only need to create a fixed amount of content. (The main problem with membership sites with no end date, is coming up with new content every month.)
If you run a financial advice service you could easily provide an ongoing membership service that kept people up-to-date on the latest currency or stock exchange information.
Taking the previous example of a music or martial arts teacher, the same video course could be cut up into sections and drip-fed over time. The best value membership sites will contain a mixture of video, text and perhaps audio, along with resource links and industry updates.
5. Software Products
It is more difficult to create a software product than video, audio or text products. There is high risk involved in creating software. But if you can make it work you can enjoy a high return and even be set up for life.
If you want to go down this route, it’s best to at least have some experience developing some of the other types of product first. Too many people lose all their money just getting started with software development.
Subscription-based software is a great model if you can find a way to make it work. Autoresponder services are a great example of subscription- based software. Every single month you have to pay to use their service. Many people rely on an autoresponder and are willing to pay for this service for as long as their online business lives.
Some software also chooses to use advertising as a monetization model. This can work well if you have a large audience, and can be distributed through many of the free software networks.
Also known as adware, software that uses this monetization method will display some form of advertising either when it starts, when it’s closed down or in the interface while it is being used. Ads may be privately sold to customers, or provided by an ad distribution network.
If you have a really good idea for a software product, but do not have any experience, consider partnering with someone who has. It will help save a hard learning curve, and will likely save you a lot of time and money. (Plus your project is much more likely to succeed and actually make money.)
One idea though for small businesses is have some small, simple but useful software written for you as a free giveaway. This could be used to acquire leads, and/or thank current customers.
Examples include: a mortgage calculator for a mortgage broker; software to help calculate renovation costs for builders, real estate agents or property investors. In the example of a weight-loss specialist it could be software to help track your weight loss, calculate your BMI and/or estimate calories for different meals.
Be sure to brand it with your company logo. Also contain a link to your website to maximize credibility, and help spread the message should people share the software with their friends.