A Quick Tutorial on How to Create Digital Products Fast
Digital products don’t have to be complicated.
In fact, with today’s society, smaller is almost always better. We want things fast and that includes the information we devour. It’s the microwave meal instinct kicking in but instead of setting the timer to cook for a few minutes, we want our digital products to (ideally) do it for us in the same kind of time.
Which suits the idea of quickly created products very nicely.
First, you need to decide on the format for your digital product.
The format is how you’re going to deliver your product and whilst you could mix several formats inside one product, most people stick to the rule of thumb that one product equals one format.
In approximate ascending price order, the formats you can choose are:
- Kindle books. These start at free and go up to a fairly high price point but typically are priced at between 99 cents and $9.99. Part of the pricing is the royalty that Amazon pays – it’s designed to encourage authors to price their Kindle books at between $2.99 and $9.99 as that range pays them a 70% commission between those two prices although there are some small charges for Amazon’s cost of sending the file across the internet so you’ll never quite earn that much but it’s close.
- Ebooks. Nowadays these are usually converted into PDF format (in olden times, they used to be wrapped in an exe file but that is rare and I wouldn’t recommend it). Pricing can be anywhere from free up to around $97, sometimes more. Ebooks are normally written in your word processor and then “printed” to PDF format. Most modern word processors can do that but if yours is one of the few that struggles then download the free LibreOffice – it’s the program I use and it works reliably.
- Audios. These are next up on the pricing ladder for digital products. They have a convenience factor because your buyers don’t need to be in front of their computer to use them. Before the internet took over the world, most informational products were audio based and you got a folder with a bunch of audio cassettes or (later on) CDs to listen to. Nowadays, you’re more likely to get a download link for an MP3 file but it’s still audio. Pricing is all over the place for audio products but they’re usually more expensive than PDFs in much the same way as CDs were usually more expensive than paperbacks. You can also deliver your audios via podcasting sites such as Apple’s iTunes. The program I use to record audios is called Audacity – it’s free and well supported. It will do far more than you ever need it to do – it’s like having access to a high end recording studio at the click of your mouse. Most of the menu options I haven’t got a clue about but they’re there if you’re ever in a bored yet creative mood when you’re creating a digital product. Just don’t get too distracted.
- Videos. These are definitely at the higher end of the price range. In much the same way that DVDs retail for more than CDs even though the actual production cost must be near enough identical. It’s actually surprisingly easy to create a video product nowadays and that’s what I’d personally recommend. Use a free or cheap program such as Screencast-o-matic to record your screen or your webcam. I say free or cheap because it comes in a free version with a few restrictions or a $15 a year version where those restrictions are lifted. I’ve used this program and the much higher priced Camtasia and for me there’s no difference because – like Audacity – I don’t use all the extra functionality, I just press record, pause, stop and render. Chances are you’ll do the same for your digital product and if you later decide you need more bells and whistles, at least you’ll have created some products and hopefully made the money to buy a higher end program.
- Coaching or mentoring. Higher end still – because there’s a regular time element. But don’t let that put you off. There are structures you can use for coaching that give high value but don’t mean you have to dedicate half your working life to sitting in brainstorming meetings with clients. That starts with options such as Skype where you can chat with someone anywhere in the world – or even watch them on video – without leaving the comfort of your own home. I know quite a few people who do exactly that and who charge some rather nice amounts of money for their digital consultations. Or you could do a cut price option and operate your coaching or mentoring via email and an autoresponder. You’d use the autoresponder to send out the regular lessons and email to respond to any questions from your students.
We’ll talk a bit more about the format of your digital product soon.
But before that, you need to decide on the subject of your digital product.
It may be that you’ve already got a subject in mind, in which case you can skip to the end of the page and click the link there.
But if you’re not sure what your product is going to be about, you need to do some research to figure out which niche or sub-niche you’re going to be operating in.
Personally, I often start my research with Amazon.
It’s got a wide range of books and other products which can you me almost at a glance whether or not the topic is likely to be profitable. If a number of people have taken the time and effort to write a book then – providing it’s not just an academic tome – there’s a good chance that people are buying products on the topic. And some of those products will be digital in nature.
You can also check out other marketplaces such as Commission Junction, Clickbank, etc. Just don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. The beauty of creating digital products fast is that you don’t have too much time invested in creating them so they can be priced accordingly but also you won’t lose much sleep if the occasional one doesn’t take off.
Or you could do a pre-launch and only create the product if enough people raised their hands.
You should also check whether or not there are adverts appearing when you search for the topic you’ve chosen. Just run a few searches for your main keywords.
It’s normally a good sign that if people are paying for adverts, there is money to be made in a market. Most advertisers only run ads that stand a chance of earning them money.
There are exceptions but they’re usually larger companies who have more advertising budget than sense. I see that locally here in Cheltenham when the big race meeting comes to town – any search involving the word Cheltenham has all sorts of horse racing advertisers showing up. But that’s the exception, not the rule.
So, if necessary, take some time out to research your potential market. It doesn’t take long to run a few searches – I normally make sure my search history is turned off (click the cog wheel that shows once you’ve done a search and follow the instructions on screen) or open up an incognito or private window that ignores most of the things I’ve done on my computer.
But as I said earlier, don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis!
If I haven’t yet convinced you to create a video product or if you’re still sitting on the fence, let me save you a lot of hassle:
Make a video digital product!
It’s far and away the best received by your customers. And it’s the most flexible.
If you’re thinking massive Hollywood style sets, think again.
If you’re thinking you need an expensive camera, think again.
In fact, the way I create video products, I don’t even use a camera.
Which sounds odd but most of the videos I create – and the style I’d strongly suggest that you create – are known as screencasts.
You use a simple (and cheap) piece of software that captures some or all of your computer screen. The microphone built into your computer picks up your voice and the software records both of them at the same time.
Most of the videos I make are recorded in short-ish bursts: somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes seems to work well most of the time.
Occasionally, if I’m doing a “watch over my shoulder” video, it will be run for an hour or so.
Like most things in life, there’s no fixed formula and no single correct answer.
So the trick is not to get hung up on small details. It’s much better to do something – even if it’s not totally correct – rather than procrastinate forever and end up doing nothing!
The other plus point with short videos is that they can be done in one take. Sometimes with the pause button pressed part way through – that’s useful if you haven’t remembered to close all your instant messenger programs or if the phone rings or a delivery arrives. But normally I record them in one take and then let them render, ready to upload.
I don’t edit my videos and I don’t suggest that you do either.
If you stumble too often, select the delete option and re-record it.
Or if you forget to turn on the microphone, just re-record. Yes, I’ve done that one more than one occasion.
Once you’ve created your shiny new digital product, it’s time to put it somewhere that people can view it.
The cheapskate approach (which works, but I don’t recommend it) is to use YouTube to host your videos. By all means use YouTube for a free introductory video or one that you want to get ranked for.
Whilst YouTube does allow you to keep your videos private – by marking them as Unlisted – it’s still not exactly secure so I don’t think you should use it for any paid-for content.
On top of that, it shows related videos when the video stops.
Most hosting nowadays is sold as being “unlimited”. Which isn’t actually unlimited in practice but it’s close enough until you get to hosting a blockbuster product, in which case you should have enough income coming in to pay someone like Amazon S3 to stream your videos for you.
But until that happy day arrives, stick with uploading the videos you’ve created to your own website host. The control panel in your hosting will do this for you or you can use a free program like Filezilla (stacks of tutorials on YouTube for it) that works a treat. Or use the upload media option in WordPress.
Don’t get hung up about the method of uploading the video to your website. Any of those options works reliably enough.
Then you just need to create a download page that links to each video but isn’t indexed by the search engines (otherwise your paid-for product becomes freely available to anyone surfing the web).
I use two plugins to discourage people randomly finding my download pages – Search Exclude and Exclude Pages from Navigation. Additionally I’ll set the page to NoIndex, NoFollow in my SEO plugin.