Spend enough time surfing the internet and you’ll learn an interesting fact: Everyone is trying to sell you something. Even when people start out with the purest of intentions, the act of blogging (or even just reading blogs) eventually results in the epiphany, I can make money doing this!
I speak from experience. My full-time income comes from my business, 80-90% of which flows through this very website. And while I make an effort not to be one of those slimy, in-your-face kind of salespeople, the reason I do the things I do online is because I like being self-employed and able to pay my bills. That means that my blog posts, emails, Facebook updates, and even Instagram pictures are created with an end goal of making money.
I think most of us start out looking for the “quick wins” – things like private advertising, affiliate links, and brand ambassadorships. And there is nothing wrong with those things; you can make a ton of money once you get traffic flowing to your site. After awhile, though, it becomes clear that the real money (in most cases) comes from original products and services.
Online Sales: That’s Where it’s At
Isn’t the internet amazing? If there’s anything in the universe you want to see, learn, practice, or do, you can find it with a few clicks. The coolest part is that you don’t have to be any kind of expert to create online content. While it always helps to know what you’re talking about, it’s not necessary to have decades of experience or a PhD in a particular subject – you can share what you know on the internet, and you can make money doing it.
Let’s say you love gardening. In the course of taking care of your garden, you discover that a combination of salt, garlic, and grape Kool-Aid makes your petunias grow. (Clearly I know nothing about gardening and this is a made up example. If you try it at home, please take pictures so I can laugh.) You might immediately log onto your favorite gardening forum to share the news with other enthusiasts. But would it occur to you that this is also an income opportunity? Would you start packaging and selling your miracle product online?
Some people would say, “Andrea, you’re insane. Why would people pay for something they can easily make themselves?” They do it every day. Society loves convenience, and if there’s a way to reach a particular goal (awesome petunias, in this case) without making much effort, you can bet people will be all over it. And if they can order from their computers and have it shipped? Even better! The only question is whether you’ll be the one to profit or the one complaining that someone beat you to it.
How to Launch a Product Successfully
Since I hang out with bloggers and freelancers a lot, I’ve been behind the scenes for a number of product launches. It’s always so exciting to see an idea come to life, especially when it helps a friend make money and feel successful.
But it can also be nerve-wracking. Ever watch helplessly while a friend’s great idea falls flat on its face? I have, and it sucks. Even worse is the time spent helping said friend go over, in excruciating detail, what went wrong. The only good thing that can come from a failed product launch is what I’m here to share with you today – learning some good lessons that can help others avoid the same pitfalls with their own products.
Here are the 3 major elements of a successful product launch:
1. People can find your product.
If you cured cancer and never told anyone, it would be impossible for you (or people with cancer) to benefit. Likewise, if you launch a product and no one knows it exists, you can’t realistically expect to make money. Before you ever even create something, you need to spend time making sure people have heard of it. Send a prototype to some friends (or better yet, bloggers who will write about how great it is). Make a landing page to build anticipation for your product, then share the heck out of that landing page. Line up some advertising and/or reviews. Make sure to use SEO – but not spammy SEO – on the product website to draw in search traffic.
Most of all, it’s essential that you allow adequate time for the development, improvement, and launch of the product. You can’t write a book on Monday, put it on Amazon on Tuesday, and become a millionaire on Wednesday. That would be awesome, but it’s not the way the world works!
2. People want your product.
This should be a no-brainer, but I feel like it needs to be said. When you’re thinking about selling something, you MUST be sure that someone is willing to buy it. (And no, your best friend and your mother don’t count.) You also need to be able to articulate why someone would want it. What problem does your product solve? What question does it answer? How will someone’s life be better if they buy what you’re selling? Until you have identified your potential customers or clients and can answer those questions, you aren’t ready to launch. Period.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of inventing demand in your head. I’ve been guilty of this myself. Sometimes you can get so excited about a product idea that you convince yourself everyone will want it. Next thing you know, there are 100 cases of premium cockroach treats in your garage and you haven’t had a single sale. You absolutely must get feedback from other people (and develop a thick skin so you can handle what they have to say).
3. The price is right. And worth it.
I’m not really sure when the pricing for online products became so inflated, but it really is. $97 seems to be the magical number. And as an avid consumer of information products such as ebooks and online training courses, let me break it to you gently. I have purchased many products, some of which were wonderful. But I can think of very few that were worth a $97 price tag.
Be realistic. Your product is your baby, so of course you value it. But how much will other people value it? Don’t get caught up in the whole “This will save people X hours of googling, so it’s worth hundreds of dollars,” thing. Look at the product for what it actually is. Would you pay $97 for a book at a bookstore? No? Then why should someone pay that much for your 20-page PDF? It’s better to price fairly and leave people thinking they got a great deal (and providing positive worth of mouth) than pricing so high that people feel ripped off. At the same time, don’t give your product away – there’s a fine line between good and bad pricing, and it’s important to learn the difference.
What Are You Waiting For? Go Make Money!
A product launch with the elements above is still not guaranteed to succeed. I don’t claim to hold any huge secrets to making money online – if I did, you can bet I’d be charging $97 for them! (Kidding!) But I’m confident that selling a well-priced product that people want and can find is more likely to result in a great launch than a ridiculously expensive product that no one wants.
The only surefire way to fail and launching and selling a product is never having the guts to try it. So get out there! Try it out! Develop something awesome that will make the world a better place. You may not become filthy rich, but I bet you’d be surprised at just how successful you can be.