You don’t even want to imagine spending weeks or even months of time—plus the cost of document design, video editing and all the other pieces that go along with it—only to discover it’s not what your audience wants or needs. You know that would feel frustrating. So today I want to talk about how to move forward without leaving it to chance.
There are plenty of ways to test your idea before spending the time and energy on a full launch. In fact, I tested a few ideas before spending time launching, and I think these insights will help you create and launch your own products.
The first and best method to get started is to Just Ask your readers.
This is the simplest way to get a feel for what your readers need and want. Create a survey with Survey Monkey (or even a Google form) and send it out to your mailing list. Or, if you don’t have a mailing list yet, but you have a very engaged community on social media – post your survey on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
For best results, keep it short, but do ask things like:
- What they’re struggling with
- Their preferred learning method (video, text, audio, etc.)
- What they feel the training is worth (what would they pay)
By the way, as a blogger you need an email list if you want to do this full-time! That is unless you’re ghostblogging like I am – I’ve been very fortunate to skate by without an email list because of the type of work I’ve been doing for my clients. But even I recognize based on my work with them that the money REALLY is in the email list. In fact, it’s why I’m still planning on preparing an email acquisition campaign of my own for my own websites.
Alright – that’s enough on that. Back to the ways to test your product ideas...
Next, Listen to Their Complaints
If you have a community (or are part of one) of potential ideal clients, pay attention to what they’re asking about the most. These are the things they need help with. For example, if you’re a craft blogger and your Facebook group is filled with questions about how to get started selling crafts on Etsy, then clearly there is a need for some training in that area.
Third, sell a test offer.
If you have been thinking about launching a course or book, you could just announce it and put up a sales page to see whether or not anyone has an interest in it. I did this with a ghostblogging course and sold two seats in a workshop before I ever recorded a single lesson.
In fact, Amazon allows you to pre-launch a book. You can pre-sell it 90 days in advance. If you don’t load your book 10 days prior to it’s official publication date, the pre-orders will be canceled. Of course, if you don’t load something after launching a pre-order campaign you won’t be allowed to do pre-order sales for a full year after that. But, it is a great way to test the waters with your audience if you want to make sure that you’ll make money before putting in a bunch of effort.
Another way I’ve seen people pre-sell things is with GoFundMe and Kickstarter. One of my bloggy friends had a Kickstarter up before he ever even started working on his book. Once it was fully funded he then got to work on it, sharing updates along the way creating fabulous blog content to give his audience a front row seat to the behind the scenes work it took to write and publish his book. The possibilities are endless!
Finally, Study Others
One more way to test your idea before you launch is to study other bloggers and what they did when they launched products and books for sale. Hey, they might even have it documented and you can get an insider’s look into how they went about selling to their audience. If you don’t already, create a list of people – bloggers, social media influencers, even your top competitors and start reading their blogs and emails, and lurking in their Facebook groups. This is a great way to gain insight into what they’re doing—not to copy them, but to discover what’s working, what’s selling, and what people are excited about.
Consider buying their paid products as well. Again, you should never copy them, but to get your feet wet you could start by promoting their product as an affiliate. This will not only help you test the waters of marketing and selling, but it will give you a feel for what’s missing and what you could do better.
From there you could create a better, more comprehensive version of the products you’re already selling. Or, if you don’t want to be an affiliate you could bypass that idea completely and dive right into creating something better than the competition. Who knows? You might be able to create a lite, lower-cost version of the book or course to hit the ground running with your target audience.
If you take nothing else from this episode, please here this – Creating products in a vacuum is a great way to waste a lot of time and money on books, workshops and courses that won’t sell. Instead, pay attention to what your blog readers are already asking for, find out what they’re willing to pay, and delve into your competitors’ offers. The information you gain from these three activities alone will give you incredible insight into your market and what they want and need, and make it easy to create your own hot-selling products for your blog readers.
I hope this episode inspires you to look into creating and launching your own products for sale my bloggy friends. We don’t have to be the smartest in the room. We just have to know a little more than the people we’re creating things for. I believe in each and every one of you, and I know you have greatness within you. Until next time, may your page views be high, and your bounce rate be low!