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I really cannot believe I’m about to share this episode with you. Seriously.

The amount of value in this episode is immense. All I can say is I wish I had this to listen to a long time ago.

I can’t tell you how we did it, but somehow we answered over 20 questions in this episode on the topic of determining what your first product should be.

Vetting demand, digital or physical, competition, marketing, autoresponders, courses (paid and free), customer experience, and on and on…

There are 6,600 words of incredible valuable show notes—you can’t afford to miss this episode.

Grab a pen and some paper because I guarantee you’re going to want to take notes.

Highlights, Takeaways, & Quick Wins:
  • Triple the amount of time you think you’re going to need to launch a product.
  • Your first product should be an experience. Your second product is where you make money. There’s no second sale without a first experience.
  • Give people something for free and they’re going to remember you.
  • Expect 5% of people who say they’ll buy your product to actually buy your product.
  • If you want to sell your first product, you should give away a lot of value beforehand.
  • People buy from those they trust.
  • Your product alone is not enough to build an audience for you.
  • It’s better to start with one product that’s a memorable experience than to start with four mediocre products.
  • People don’t notice announcements, they notice consistency.
  • Use various mediums to diversify the way you tell a story. This gives you more opportunities to pull people in.
  • Don’t just tell people what the features of your product are, tell them how it will benefit them.
  • Repurpose the content that’s resonating with people.
Show Notes
  • 08:53 Sean: Launching products is hard, making products is hard, and it’s going to take longer than you think it’s going to take. There’s more things to think about than you realize—marketing, landing pages, signups, double opt-ins, autoresponders, customer exemptions, payment processing, refunds, shipping, customs forms, merchant accounts, taxes, email confirmations, customer support, hosting, checkouts, coupons, pricing, design, development, plugins, updates, etc. My advice to you is:

Triple the amount of time you think you’re going to need to launch a product.

  • 10:26 Here’s some of the things we’re going to cover in this episode:
    • Should you even be focused on products right now?
    • Digital or physical?
    • Is there demand?
    • Are other people selling similar products?
    • Your first product as a potential loss—creating an experience.
    • Autoresponders
    • Paid courses and free courses.
    • Is it the right time? Should you give more first?
    • Pre-sales (Related: e054 Pre-sales: Are they the right option for your product?)

Should My First Product Be Free?

  • 11:41 Sarah asks, “Should my very first product be free?” Terrance piggybacks on this with, “Should your first product be something to just put out there, or should you really ‘go for it’ on something ultra mega premium to make a big first impression?” Your first content material should be free. Your first product could be free, but it doesn’t have to be. Stop thinking about your first product as a way to make money. Your first product should be an experience for people. Your second product is where you make money.

Your first product should be an experience. Your second product is where you make money. There’s no second sale without a first experience.

  • 12:34 Think about the first experience you’re creating for people and don’t try to squeeze profits out of it. Craft an experience that people will fall in love with and focus on the second, third, fourth, or fifth sales to actually make your profits.
  • 13:03 Ben: When you’re talking about creating an experience, a digital product can create an experience for someone, but not in the same way a physical product can. It’s not likely you can give a physical product away for free, unless you’ve got a ton of money up front to spend on that experience. The best way to go here is a physical product because you’re giving them the experience. It’s something they can hold, feel, and smell. That tangible experience leaves a deeper impression with people.
  • 13:53 Sean: I’ll be getting into the pros and cons of digital vs. physical products. It’s not an absolute answer, it depends on your situation. No doubt a physical product is going to leave a stronger impression than something on a screen. We constantly have images flashing in front of us on various devices and it’s rare to get something physical. If you could give someone something physical for free, that’s huge. You’ve got shipping costs to think about so you’ll need to be practical, unless you’re mega long-term. You don’t want to be shipping people a bunch of free stuff.
  • 14:36 You could run a promotion, which I’ve thought about doing. I would love to do a giveaway—like a free coaster, shirt, or sticker—for the first people. You have to think about it as a marketing expense because it’s creating good press and buzz, but that’s really expensive. You might want to try to do it in person. If you go to a conference or a local meetup, give them something like a coaster, shirt, or sticker right there. Maybe you’re not a designer or artist, but the vast majority of what I’m talking about applies to whatever it is for you. You could even give a battery charger or something!

Give people something for free and they’re going to remember you.

  • 15:47 This experience builds trust and loyalty so they come to associate you with this thing. When they think of this thing, they think of you. They’ll buy it when you come out with a newer, higher-ticket, better profit margin product, and that’s where you’ll make your money.
  • 16:02 Ben: I like the idea of doing it in person. Even though it may be a little cheaper because you don’t have to pay for ship things out, it’s a deeper experience because they get to take it out of your hand and see your face. It’s a more complete experience. Think about how awesome it would be if Steve Jobs was the one who sold you your phone. That would be a memorable experience.
  • 16:50 Sean: In the chat room, when I rattled of the list of things to think about when launching a product, someone asked, “Did Sean say coupons?” I do you use coupons for rewarding loyalty. I prefer not to discount things because discounts are a devaluation. The exception I make is rewarding loyalty. I’ll take people who have bought from me a lot or purchased my top-tier products and I’ll give them an exclusive loyalty rewarding coupon to use when purchasing something else (Related: e164 Full Price or Free).

How Do I Know if There’s Interest?

  • 17:42 Brookes asks, “How do you decipher a genuine desire for a product from a disingenuous one? For example, ‘Wow, I would totally buy that if you made it!'”

Expect 5% of people who say they’ll buy your product to actually buy your product.

  • 18:01 It’s easy for someone to say they’ll buy something, but the way you know is when someone pulls out their credit card and puts their money where their mouth is. It’s bad to think, “A bunch of people liked my Instagram photo, I bet I could sell a product.” You might get lucky and sell a few, but don’t take it as validation. Take transactions as validation.
  • 19:10 Ben: Does that answer the question of, “How do you know you have something worth selling?” You don’t have the validation before, unless you’re doing pre-sales, so do you just put something out there and see what happens?
  • 19:44 Sean: If you enjoy launching to crickets, then maybe you might get lucky, but it doesn’t seem like a smart idea to invest that much. You want 20 people actually saying they’ll buy your product so that one actually will. You want to sell when 5% is a reasonable number. 5% of 20 isn’t enough and it’s not the same to go out asking people if they’d buy your product. They’ll say yes because they don’t want to hurt your feelings! They’re not going to pull out their wallet to be nice. Saying it and doing it are two totally different things.
  • 20:59 Ben: What if you could adjust that number somehow? Say you post something on Instagram and a ton of people like it, so you start to put it in front of people as if you were developing it as a product. You consistently post different things that have to do with that piece of art and the way you’re transforming it into the medium, like a shirt or a print, and you’re showing people the process you use to turn a piece of artwork into a product. You’re priming them and building some interest around it.
  • 22:00 Sean: That’s a great way to get more people to buy it, but I wouldn’t use that to create the interest in the first place. It could work, but it’s riskier and I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • 22:22 Keshna asks, “What was your first product and how did you arrive to choosing that?” My first product was the Smooth Sea shirt. I made that because the actual sketch, before it was a product, got a positive response. Tons of people were not only liking it, but saying they would buy it, to the point where a small percentage of them was a decent number. When I made it, it was really well received. You want to pick something that people are already going out of their way to say they’ll buy.
  • 23:14 Ben: Someone asked, “How do you know whether or not you’re actually ready to sell products?” You were already at a place where you had a large number of followers who were actually leaving comments about your work and you waited until you had a substantial number of people who would buy from you before you made a product. I’m thinking about the person who maybe has 500 followers on Instagram or a small number of followers on Pinterest. Maybe their art is great and of the people who follow them, they’ve gotten a good response, but 5% of the people who said they’re interested in purchasing is a really small number. Should they wait? What if they have something they really love and would be a great product to lead with?
  • 24:34 Sean: Sarah is asking a very similar question, “Should I want to have enough of an audience to launch my first product or should I launch even though my audience isn’t that big yet? In both cases, how do I determine what ‘big enough’ is?” Products are an investment. The three ways you can make money doing something you’re passionate about is what I like to call the Trifecta—client work, products, and teaching (Related: e81 Making A Living With The Trifecta Part 2 of 3: Products). Products are a longer-term play than the others. They’re not a great way to make quick money, but they can be a great way to build sustainable income over time.
  • 25:09 With that said, it’s not a great idea to be making long-term investments before you’re ready. Your energy is better spent growing your audience right now. That’s why the next step Cory and I are taking is producing my free Audience Building Course. The book I’m writing but haven’t finished yet, The Overlap Technique, will tell you how to set your foundation with your day job so you can overlap into pursuing your passion full-time. Client work is the best way to get quick cash without a huge audience. If you want to sell products, you need to have people to sell them to. If you’re wondering when is too soon to get into products, it’s probably too soon if you’re asking, “When is my audience big enough?”
  • 26:16 When so many people are asking for a product, you can clearly tell this product is going to sell to them and that’s how you know your audience is big enough. We talk about nailing your product launch the first time, but it isn’t magic. You’re an anomaly if you get past the threshold of actually making a product, because most people don’t, but then you enter a whole new realm of people. The majority of those people are launching to crickets. Cory wants to be make and sell films and we were talking about this recently.
  • 28:01 Cory: I was considering selling my first short film because I thought it would be a good idea to set a higher standard. I have 150 page likes on Facebook, 200 followers on Instagram, and 30 subscribers on YouTube. Sean didn’t advise against selling my first short film, he encouraged me to go about it by giving away free things to the people who follow me for a long period of time.
  • 29:13 Sean: I didn’t advise against selling your first product, because you can sell your first product.

If you want to sell your first product, you should give away a lot of value beforehand.

People buy from those they trust.

  • 29:28 If you don’t trust someone, you look for trust-by-proxy through reviews, testimonials, and word-of-mouth referrals. They want to care about who you are, what you stand for, what your values are, and your level of quality first, before they buy. Cory Miller asked, “Should you start with something that’s a nice-to-have or should it solve a problem?” A shirt solves the problem of not being bare-backed, but it’s not pressing. Shirts are more “merch.” It’s easier to sell nice-to-have products when you have fans. If you don’t have fans and want to sell your first product, you’ll have a better chance coming out with something that solves a very specific problem people have. You could probably sell a portable iPhone charger or battery pack without a big audience much easier than you could sell a shirt with your battery pack brand on it.
  • 30:59 Ben: If your focus is apparel and you want to put shirts out first, give it some utility, like making the kind of art you use for it humorous or inspirational. If someone you looked up to put a dot on a shirt, you might by it. There’s no utility to that, but because of the trust you’ve developed over time, you’re willing to purchase it from them. When you don’t have that in the beginning, something with more utility might be useful.
  • 31:45 Sean: My advice to Cory was: you need to make people care about you first. Then, they’ll buy the short film because Cory made it. You want to become a household name for people, like Casey Neistat and Gary Vaynerchuck are for us. The way to become a household name is by providing value prolifically. I told Cory that if he wanted to sell his short films, he needs to have a video out every week teaching people about video. Use the short film as examples in the things you’re teaching and eventually you can say, “My short film is available—go buy it.” They’ll buy it because he made it and it matters to them because he provided value.
  • 32:48 Daniel asks, “When crafting the first product what are the common pitfalls I should expect ?” Definitely check out some of my past podcast episodes and seanwes tv episodes where I discuss building buzz around your product launch and Backwards-Building (Related: e160 Nailing Your Product Launch the First Time, e103 You Are an Independent Marketing Firm, & tv018 Generating Buzz for Your Product Launch).

Should I Launch Products or Build an Audience First?

  • 34:30 Ryan asks, “Should I have an audience to sell to first, or should part of my regular output be products? In other words, could releasing products be part of my audience building strategy, or should it be held off until that audience is gaining traction?” If you have money and you don’t mind launching to crickets, then go for it. Launching products can be a great, super slow way to build your audience.

If nobody knows who you are or cares about what you’re building, you’re not going to sell any products.

  • 35:10 Ben: At first I was thinking the answer to that question was yes, if you have the money and time to invest, but there are more effective ways that cost way less and allow you to build an audience much faster if you provide value. If you see your peers or people you look up to launching their stores, you might feel like you’re not playing well in that space. It comes back to: are you doing what’s best for you in your situation right now, or is there another approach that’ll be more effective for you and will lead to a more successful first product launch?
  • 36:23 Sean: In the vast majority of cases, your product alone is not enough to build an audience for you. Purchasing is a big hurdle. A “sales funnel” is getting people in through a wide opening and then slowly converting more and more of them. If you reverse that sales funnel and go small in your opening—like making people spend money to be part of your audience—you’re going to have much fewer people.
  • 37:15 Ben: When I’m checking out a new artist and I see a store with products in it, it communicates something to me. It’s a form of social proof and I think, “People are willing to buy from this person.” I take them a little bit more seriously. Should that be an organic thing, or is it worth considering when you’re talking about building a store and putting products up?
  • 38:30 Sean: I worry about this. In lettering, if all you do is copy peoples’ final results, you’re not going to have any idea how to come up with something unique on your own. The quality is going to degrade, like a copy you make on a copy machine. You don’t understand all the nuances that went into building that composition or why they made it that way, you’re just copying them. When you see someone who’s successful with a store, you might be inclined to think, “I’ll build a store and look successful, then people will buy from me and I actually will be.”
  • 39:12 It’s great to look successful, but if you’re not actually successful, it doesn’t matter. If you’re not selling any products, then you can’t do that much longer. Who’s going to pay the hosting bill? There’s deeper stuff that goes into building this. On this podcast, we want to show you the steps along the way, not just to copy the final result.

How Many Products Should I Launch With?

  • 39:55 Terrance asked, “Should you only launch with one product?” I would say launch with one product or four products. The reason for this is to either say, “This is the product,” or, “These are the options.” If you only have two things, people feel like it’s not enough options. I’m sure Apple has done the research on this considering they’ve introduced gold and bright colors to the iPhone color options. I bet they sell more now that there’s more color options. Launch with the product or really give people options. I wouldn’t start with four products unless you have a lot of startup capital and can afford to make them all good.

It’s better to start with one product that’s a memorable experience than to start with four mediocre products.

  • 41:10 Ben: When you have multiple products, you also have a price anchor—an opportunity to create some contrast based on the price point. You can purposefully make a product stand out, even if it doesn’t appear that way on the outside. The psychology behind it will make some products seem low and others seem high.
  • 41:59 Sean: Tiered pricing is huge. The $17,000 gold Apple watch makes the $350 one seem like it’s “only” $350.
  • 42:26 Ben: Some people look at that and say, “I’ve got to get the most expensive thing because that’s how I roll.”
  • 42:37 Sean: You don’t realize what revenue you’re missing out on by not appealing to those people. You could add a service on top of everything to where if you buy the top tier, we’ll install it for you. You can charge whatever you want for that because the people who value that value their time. They’ll pay for their time.
  • 43:09 Ben: Should it be four different varieties of products? I’m guessing it should, because if you put up four prints or four shirts, it would be difficult to create different tiers.
  • 43:30 Sean: On one hand, the goal with launching your first product or set of products is to sell them. If you have one product then it’s pretty clear to buy it or not. If you have two products, it’s scientifically not enough options to feel like they have a choice. Three products is the sweet spot and I like to say four, so you can throw in something random like a coffee mug. The four products I’m talking about are an assortment, like a print, a shirt, and a mug. Try to hit people anywhere. You can put the same design on some different mediums so there’s options.
  • 44:14 On the other hand, for one product you can create tiers with different levels of value, bonuses, package them differently, or add done-for-you services at the top tier so it price anchors the lower ones. For what we’re talking about, you should have one product with the option of tiered packaging or four different products. For a lot of people asking, “What should my first product be?” they’ll probably want to launch with one unless you have a ton of money.

How Do I Create Products People Want?

  • 45:15 Edna says, “Especially in the chat and a post from yesterday, I see how you can select topics your audience values by drawing straight from their questions. How can this active listening be applied to product development?” A lot of people, almost daily, in the chat room, on Twitter, by email, and through podcast feedback people tell me they feel like I’m reading their minds. Generally, listening and tailoring your content to the questions people are asking will make people feel this way (Related: e99 How to Read Minds). Yesterday, we had a conversation in the chat room and I said, “Trends I’m noticing—episodes on the following topics have gotten 15–20%+ more downloads than the other episodes:
  • 47:12 The reason these have more downloads than the others is they’re all directly tailored to feedback I got. I tailor the episodes to the exact phrases people mention and now tons of people are downloading them. She’s wondering how you apply this ‘active listening’ approach to product development. Here’s the secret:

Source product ideas the same way you source content topic ideas.

  • 47:42 The content you’re making based on what people are asking for is a form of validation. I could do a course or write a book on any of these topics and I know it’s going to be a smash hit because I listened, I made content for it, and I analyzed the results. Now that time has passed, I can see what’s resonating and take it to the next level. Here’s how you do it:
    1. Create valuable content and do it consistently.
    2. Capture the interest people have—give them ways they can sign up to your email list.
    3. Send them an autoresponder series that establishes who you are, what they can expect, and when they can expect it. At the end of the email, ask what people are struggling with.
    4. Create content that responds to the most popular questions.
    5. Look at your results—what are the top performing posts on your site? Look at your analytics, find out what’s resonating, and do more of that! Do more of what’s working.
  • 49:29 Lettering was working for me so I’m going to be reproducing Learn Lettering. I’m doing more of what works. If these episodes are doing really well, we should do more of them. That’s how you know what products are going to do well.
  • 50:00 Ben: This goes without saying, but you have to have a way for people to get a hold of you to ask their questions and you have to make it easy for them.

How Much Time Should I Spend Promoting?

  • 51:08 Sean: Sarah asks, “How much time should I spend promoting my first product before I launch it?” I say six months at least. People don’t notice announcements, they notice consistency. Six months is nothing. You’re not even close to over-promoting.

If you let people know about your product over and over again, then you’re barely on their radar.

  • 55:39 Ben: If you have a product ready and you haven’t been telling people about it yet, then six months feels like forever, but that’s a good position to be in. You get six months to talk about it, share it, and even refine it based on peoples’ feedback. You’ve already done the work. We have this mentality that when we’ve created something, we have to get it out immediately because it’s fresh. In your mind, six months from now it isn’t going to be fresh anymore, but that’s just your perception because of how close you are to the product. For other people, six months of consistent announcements isn’t a long time and it feels fresh when it launches.
  • 56:51 Sean: I launched Learn Lettering over a year ago and every day I get responses to my autoresponder saying, “I just Googled ‘hand lettering’ yesterday and found this. I’m so excited.” This just became a thing for them! It was their first time to Google this phrase. How exciting is that? It’s fresh, new, and exciting for them right now.
  • 57:41 Ben: Devin asks, “What about the people who have been waiting for it in the first couple of weeks? Do you risk losing those individual people by waiting so long to launch the product?”
  • 57:53 Sean: Have I lost you on the Overlap Technique book? Are you not going to get it because I’ve spent more than a year refining it?

Do you want a few people who are excited now or do you want a few thousand people who will be excited in six months?

  • 58:21 Sean: Edna asks, “While an ebook is as valuable as the content in it, what other first products for those not creating ‘tangible’ items might be a better route, since so many ebooks go unread?” Marketing people will tell you that ebooks are getting oversaturated. First of all, they’re right. They’re getting oversaturated and slightly less effective. Second of all, it doesn’t matter because there’s so many people who are not in the marketing world.
  • 59:09 The only people getting jaded are the people in the marketing world who have signed up for a dozen email lists and they’re tired of it. Those people aren’t going to buy from you anyway. The people who are going to sign up for your ebook don’t care that it’s an ebook and, “everyone is doing ebooks now.” They’re going to sign up because it’s fresh to them. Your audience isn’t creating newsletters. They came across you because they Googled something specific and if what you’re giving away answers their questions. They’re going to want it.
  • 1:00:54 Ben: We’re talking about promoting for six months, but we’re also talking about your first product. How does the six months of announcements leading up to the launch of a product reconcile with the idea of having affirmation from your audience that it would sell? How do you maintain that freshness for the people who are already familiar with your artwork or the product?

Backwards-Building Products

  • 1:02:15 Sean: You can backwards-build products by putting up a page that pretends that the product exists. Imagine you’re done with the product and that a large media company wants to promote it. They need you to have a page they can link to that tells everything about your product and exactly what it is. You’re going to tell them why people would want this as if it was available. You should be so comfortable with putting this page out that there could be a “buy now” button on it.
  • 1:03:20 The product doesn’t exist yet so instead of a “buy now” button at the bottom, you have an email sign up. This page should be a press release for your product—speak to the struggles, fears, and inhibitions of your target audience. Tell them exactly what problems you’re going to solve. An example of this is the relaunched Community page, where we don’t just share the features of a Community membership, we share the benefits of it.

Don’t just tell people what the features of your product are, tell them how it will benefit them.

  • 1:04:49 Put this page up after you’re confident people want this product. Now, look at the response—how many people are coming to this page? Hopefully, you’re pointing people to this page in weekly blog posts. When people sign up, they should be getting an autoresponder from you asking what their struggle is. Find out who these people are, what the pain point is, and what it’s worth to them.

How Much Should I Charge?

  • 1:05:24 Jean asks, “How do you figure out what to charge, especially with something that’s not physical, such as an ebook or digital medium?” It doesn’t matter if it’s digital or physical. The problem is what matters. The medium only matters if you emphasize it. The problem is what people care about and they want it solved. An ebook could be free or it could be $150. A course could be $19 or $20,000. What’s the problem you’re solving? We’ll be talking more about this in the Value-Based Pricing course I’m still working on (Related: e145 Getting Started With Value-Based Pricing, e146 Attracting Clients and Positioning the Conversation Around Value, & e147 The Nuts and Bolts of Value-Based Pricing).
  • 1:06:09 Ben: Does the six month rule apply to every type of project, or are their different timescales for different products?
  • 1:07:31 Sean: If you care about how well any product does and you don’t want to launch to crickets, then it should be six months minimum—try a year even! I’ve been talking about the Overlap Technique since day one. People know about it because I’ve talked about it in every podcast. People aren’t going to miss it—the longer you go, the better the stew tastes.
  • 1:08:39 Ben: You feel like you might be over-promoting or talking about something too much, but that’s barely a blip on your audience’s radar.
  • 1:08:56 Sean: You don’t want to spam people with the same thing over and over. You want to diversify the mediums and the value you’re providing each time you promote something. When you put up the landing page for the product you’re backwards-building, don’t just spam your Twitter account with a link. Instead, write a blog post about the topic so you’re providing value and linking too. Jeff Sheldon, owner of Ugmonk, does a great job of this. He just launched some new products today and I notice he finds a way to provide a different angle or value every time he tweets the new products. On a launch day, he’ll say, “Hey we just launched,” “Hey, there’s a sale,” “Thanks for all of the positive responses,” or, “Check out the details of this piece.”
  • 1:10:17 If someone spams something, I unsubscribe, but Jeff had promoted the launch eight times and I didn’t feel like I wanted to unsubscribe at all! My suggestion to him would be to diversify the mediums, like write a blog post on the behind-the scenes of each product in the series. He could post them all at once or post each one throughout the day. Tweet it, put it on Facebook, Instagram it, and make a video. Film someone wearing it, the design process, or the behind-the-scenes. It would take some planning, but you could coordinate several podcasts to come out on launch day too.

Use various mediums to diversify the way you tell a story. This gives you more opportunities to pull people in.

Physical or Digital?

  • 1:11:42 Charli asks, “Is it best to start with a physical or digital product?” Start with what’s easiest for you—they’re both difficult in their own ways, whether it’s shipping and fulfillment or plug-ins, updates, digital downloads, and emails. Even before you start with what’s easiest for you, start simple. There’s a lot of people thinking, “It’s too much work. I can’t do it,” but you can do it!
  • 1:12:18 With digital products, forget about downloads and plug-ins, send a friend a file over email or Dropbox and send them a Paypal invoice. If it’s a physical product, have a friend mail you a check and then personally write their address on a box and drive to the post office to mail it. Stop getting caught up in the automated shipping software stuff because you’re not there yet. Don’t let that be the excuse for not starting something.
  • 1:13:02 Ben: That seems to contradict the advice of giving the customer a positive experience with your first product.
  • 1:13:16 Sean: I’m not saying it has to be a crappy experience, I’m saying to do something manually if you have to before you get caught up in automation and having that keep you from doing anything. Don’t be afraid to do things manually in the beginning.

Whose Platform Should I Use?

  • 1:15:37 Charla asks, “I know the disadvantages of using someone else’s platform, but are there still perks to doing that when you’re just starting out and no one knows who you are, or should you wait until you have enough of an audience to even offer anything?” Before I knew what my values were on platforms, I went to someone else’s platform to teach. I ended up regretting that decision, but I got my feet wet and learned a lot, even though it was the hard way. I also found out that using someone else’s platform isn’t magic. It may seem like that when you see people successfully using someone else’s platform, but you don’t know everything that’s going on behind-the-scenes.
  • 1:16:26 My class on someone else’s platform was successful because I had the audience that was primed and ready to buy from me all along, I just went somewhere else. What you didn’t know is that the people who were successful on that platform lived in New York City, where this platform was based. They were given free promotion, were put on the home page, and the platform had professional video crews sent out to make their videos, whereas they told people like me to turn on my webcam. I produced my own videos that looked decent, but you don’t see all of that on the surface when you think using someone else’s platform will give you the exposure you need to be successful. You don’t see the people launching to crickets because they’re launching to crickets.
  • 1:18:07 Cory: With the six months example, should you give a date in advance?
  • 1:18:18 Sean: That’s ideal, but I’m not saying you have to. I have yet to give a date for The Overlap Technique book, the Audience Building Course, or Value-Based Pricing, but I have given one for Learn Lettering 2.0. If I gave a date for all of them, it would be even stronger. I’m just trying to do too many things at once. This is the best way, I’m just not always 100% on course with that myself.
  • 18:45 Ben: What’s worse, stringing people along indefinitely or giving a launch date and failing to deliver on it?
  • 1:19:06 Sean: I don’t plan for failure. With using other peoples’ platforms and with physical products, you need to think about where people will find you. When they think about your products, what comes to mind? Where do they go, your brand or someone else’s? It’s hard to undo that. You’ve got to think about it and make your own call there.

Should I Repurpose Free Content to Sell?

  • 1:19:56 Jean asks, “Do you always repackage what you’ve written or talked about, or find a way to create new content for the paid item? It ties in with Sarah’s question about giving your content away for free (writing blogs, etc.) but now wanting to create a product, do you just repackage what you’ve already been talking about? Will people feel like they’re paying for something they were getting for free?” Albert asks, “If you’re delivering such great value for free on your blog, how can you re-use that content for your product without just doing a straight copy/paste word for word?”
  • 1:21:12 You can actually copy/paste word for word. You’ve got a huge archive of content and most people aren’t going to go back to read all of that stuff. Creators underestimate the value of packaging this stuff up for people. People value their time so they’re not going to go through your years worth of blog archives. Find the content that’s good and write them into the whole context—even rewrite them. You can copy/paste as long as you’re providing a whole, contextual value. That’s worth it for people! If you’ve been blogging for seven years, you can put all of that content together in a thoughtful way and sell it as an ebook. People will buy that.
  • 1:22:30 I’ve gone through peoples’ blogs, newsletters, email courses, and eventually purchased their book and I’ve seen specific paragraphs published again. I wasn’t angry about it because I got all of that other stuff for free in the first place. You’re also hearing the content again and you should probably hear it five more times for it to sink in (Related: e153 The Magic of 7). It’s a good thing to say it again.
  • 1:23:27 Ben: If you’ve been blogging for five years once a week, you’ve probably got somewhere close to 250 posts and there are probably ten articles that talk about the same kind of problem. Packaging those articles together means you’re defining a specific problem for people based on what you’re hearing. You can solve that problem with a book made up of ten blogs that you curated, it doesn’t matter when the content came out. People aren’t focusing on that, people are focused on how well you articulated their problem and how well you’ve solved it with the content.

Repurpose content that’s resonating with people.

  • 1:25:38 Back to the question of, “You’ve been delivering all of this content for free, how do you charge for something?” The answer is depth. We have hour and a half long podcast episodes, YouTube videos, and even a conference talk, but I still can’t touch on everything. Even if it was possible to touch on everything, you start losing people because it’s too much. Break that down into courses, lessons, and modules and go more into depth with those topics. You’re able to do a paid course or a book because you go into depth there. Package up free content, even if it’s something you’ve written before, highlight the most important things, and go deep on those subjects. Depth is valuable and people will pay for it.
  • 1:27:23 I wouldn’t discourage you from doing an ebook because they aren’t ineffective, but free courses work even better. You want that wide opening sales funnel to bring in as many people as you can, then give them value. My free Audience Building Course will quickly build rapport and it will allow me to demonstrate the value of my other courses. People will think, “Look how high quality the production is on this free course. Imagine what the paid courses must be like!”
  • 1:28:47 Ben: Should you treat the launch of this free course the same way you would the launch of a paid course?
  • 1:28:54 Sean: You might as well! I’ll be making a big deal when I launch the Audience Building Course, but eventually I’ll also be using it as the new lead magnet when you sign up for The Overlap Technique book.
  • 1:30:20 Edna says, “I’d love to hear how product launches or sales are supported by and supports Relationship Marketing. What cycle or correlation can you share with us from your experience? You’ve spoken about Relationship Marketing and how it’s building an audience and loyalty. Are there ways to then use a product to nurture those relationships further? In asking, I’m thinking of this chat right here in the Community. Your free content was priceless. I had the chance to give back and join the Community, and now here we are further developing that relationship.”
  • 1:31:00 I think she answered it for herself. She called the free content, “priceless,” then we created something of even more value that we asked for compensation upfront for. Now she’s in the Community and we’re further developing that relationship. Relationship Marketing feeds itself.