This guest post is by Krizia of the Blog Income for Women Blueprint.
At the end of August 2010, my business partner and I made the decision to document the steps I had taken to turn a blog that was earning $20 per month in AdSense money into a $500-$5000-per-month blog (all from natural traffic). Our goal was to show other female bloggers that there was a way of earning income with a review blog.
The journey from idea to actually launching our product was a long road and I’ll admit that some days, I thought I was going to lose my mind in all the details required to execute a proper product launch.
Now that the product has officially launched, I’ve had a chance to sit down and take note of the lessons I learned during the process, so I could share them with other bloggers, and also learn from other bloggers who might use a better process.
It’s no secret that most bloggers who earn six-figure incomes do so by launching their own digital products or services. This means that learning the ins and outs of product launches is a natural progression in any blogger’s career.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve received a string of emails from different gurus claiming that I can launch a product in 48 hours and start living the Internet marketer’s dream life by end of the month. Trust me: the last few months of hard work have proven that’s just not happening unless you have an army of virtual assistants helping you.
The process of launching your own product is very hard work and it can be both challenging and stressful at times, but the end result is simply magical. I don’t think that up to now in my blogging career, I’ve been this proud. So let me explain the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Lessons in ecourse content creation
- In general, people will tend to be more willing to buy a video course than a 400-page document that they have to download, print, and read. If you’ve ever bought a multi-media course online, then you’ll know that it’s a lot more engaging than a simple ebook.
- Creating a multi-media course is no more complicated than creating a solid presentation on PowerPoint. Then, use a screen capture tool like Camtasia (for PC) or Screenflow (for Mac) to record each module and convert those files into flash files (for PC) or Quicktime files (for Mac). It’s not so hard after all!
- Once you’ve recorded all of your modules, you’ll just need to host your videos on Amazon s3. If you have not yet discovered Amazon s3, you’ll be happy to know that you can store video and audio files at a very affordable price, and the whole process is very easy.
- The end results of a multimedia course is quite impressive. After all, you’re allowing buyers to learn in three ways (audio, video, and text—if you offer a PowerPoint presentation, buyers can download and print that too).
Lessons in building a brand
Building a brand that stands out from the crowd is really and Internet marketing basic. That said, when you first launch a product, funds can be tight and it’s not always obvious how you can find talented graphic designers you can actually afford.
I really cannot say enough about Fiverr.com. We’ve successfully used Fiverr.com to create the following graphical elements to brand our products:
- ebook covers and DVD covers: the designer also created the group shot (showing all the elements of the product in one shot) for us for $5! We would have paid at least $25 per ebook or DVD cover had we hired someone from Elance or Odesk. Here’s an example:
- banners for our affiliates to use to promote our product: although banners don’t convert nearly as well as text or video, we still had banners created in four different sizes for our affiliates
- Facebook fan page: We actually had a Fiverr.com vendor create a video welcome page that looks amazing.
Each job you promote on Fiverr.com will cost you $5 (hence the name). I’ll admit that originally, my expectations were fairly low, but I’ve been proven wrong time and time again. It’s possible to find great talent on Fiverr.com. Our experience with Fiverr.com has been very positive, and the vendors have turned the work around very quickly.
That said, I would advise that you need to be crystal clear on what you are looking for when submitting a job, and it’s worth spending the time time to surf the ‘net to find examples of what you like so you can show them to the person you hire. You should also expect that you might have to spend $10-15 in jobs that don’t suit your requirements before landing on a few really great vendors. I’ve found Fiverr.com to be a good way to get a brand for my product at an incredible price.
Lessons in teamwork
Unless you are super-talented and possess all the different skills needed to put out a product, you’ll have to create a solid team that can help you successfully launch.
To give you an idea of what’s involved, here’s a list of the team members who helped us create our product and launch it:
- a virtual assistant: she uploaded all the videos on Amazon s3 and checked a lot of the work and links that had already been checked. She’s also been instrumental in helping us get traffic to the blog as we were building out the product.
- webmaster: he designed each page of the site and each sales video page.
- graphic designer: we outsourced all this work to different Fiverr.com vendors.
- Facebook fan page designer: again, we outsourced this to a Fiverr.com vendor.
- copywriter: I wrote most of the copy.
- editor/proofreader: we had the copy revised by a few editors.
- PowerPoint creator: one of those editors also set the entire project out in PowerPoint.
- customer service: this task is a collective effort between my business partner, our virtual assistant and myself.
- affiliate marketer: because of my background as an affiliate manager, I took on this role and managed all activities surrounding affiliates.
- video marketer: I’m the one creating videos, but our virtual assistant is the one publishing them to video sharing sites for maximum exposure.
When you are first starting out, you might not have a budget to outsource all the functions needed to launch a product, but I’d highly recommend you outsource any kind of technical work that’s not your strength—otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time.
Furthermore, having a site that works perfectly is essential for a product launch and you’ll surely want to hire qualified people to do the job.
Lessons in copywriting
There is far more copy to write for a launch than you expect. Throughout the launch, you’ll also be writing quite a lot of copy. Here’s a list of all the copy we needed to support our product launch:
- copy for the PowerPoint presentation (aka the course)
- copy for the video sales page (some stats show that video converts 12% better than a text-only sales page—there are some experts who say it’s up to 25%)
- copy for the text-base sales page
- copy for the affiliate toolkit (this is the copy affiliates will use to promote your product)
- copy for the affiliate auto-responder (to keep affiliates abreast of what’s happening)
- copy for the buyers (weekly emails to walk the buyers through the course)
- copy for the leads (people who opt-in to our list, but don’t buy … you’ll need to keep building a relationship with them)
- value-added messages (after reading a number of sites, I decided to add a string of value-added messages in my auto-responder for both buyers and leads)
- copy for guests posts (to get the word out on this product, I’ve written a lot of guests posts!)
As you can see, if you don’t like to write, or you’re not comfortable writing, you’ll have to hire a copywriter because there is quite a lot of copy needed to properly launch a product—and that’s not taking into account the work you’ll do writing the product itself.
Lessons in marketing
To help market our product to the largest possible audience, we’re using the following strategies:
- affiliate marketing: we’ve formed alliances with a number of marketers who will help us promote our product to their lists
- video marketing: we’re using video marketing to reach a wider audience with less effort
- article marketing: our virtual assistant is posting articles to article directories to get us back links and additional traffic
- forum marketing: because our product targets women, our virtual assistant has been commenting on a number of forums and because our URL is in her signature, we’re able to attract new leads.
Do you still want to launch your own product?
I know this list must seem endless—when you are in the middle of it all, it really does seem endless! But it is doable. If you are able to chunk things down and keep working towards your goals, you’ll succeed.
I’ve found two aspects to be key in moving your concept from an idea to a final product: persistence and seeking advice and guidance.
Without persistence, you won’t make it because there are so many challenges along the way and the work often seems like it will never end. You’ll have to have a strong vision of the finished product that you keep in mind at all times in order to help you keep moving forward. Otherwise, you may abandon your dreams of launching your own product online.
I’m lucky to have had a large pool of experts who were willing to offer me help and advice. My years as an affiliate manager have paid off really well. If you don’t have access to those kinds of contacts, I’d suggest you ask friends and other bloggers for help. If you’re part of Darren’s ProBlogger.com Community, that’s another great place to get support, feedback, and ideas.
Launching your own product online is hard work. You are probably going to have to sacrifice a lot of things in order to make this happen, but the end result is spectacular! After all, you’ll have accomplished something that most people will never do.
If you’ve launched your own product and have more tips to share, I’d love to heard about them—share them in the comments so we can all learn from them.
Krizia is the co-creator of The Blog Income for Women Blueprint which teaches women how to turn their blogging efforts into blog income. You can watch a free video tutorial and download a free report here.