When asking Digital Lab members what their BIGGEST hang up was in getting started with creating and selling digital products, the majority raised their hand to say they didn’t know WHAT to do if they were starting from scratch. No audience. No list (or just a tiny list!). Like how do you grow a digital business if you are starting with an audience of zero?
I remember exactly what it felt like when I was creating my first digital products in 2016: the overwhelm. Pinterest came armed with all sorts of articles to teach me about opt-ins and sales funnels and every strategy under the sun BUT the biggest roadblock I faced was not knowing WHAT to focus on first and how to start making real traction so the ‘passive’ dream could become a reality for me.
I remember seeing the big name celebs share about their million dollar launches and their email lists that boasted tens to hundreds of thousands of subscribers and the truth is… I thought, “Well sure, it is easier for you because you have all of that infrastructure already built and working AND you have a huge audience.”
First of all, I want to say that overwhelm is a natural feeling. And wondering if you have missed your chance is also natural, too.
But if I’ve learned anything I can share over the past 5 years of growing my own digital business from scratch, I can confidently tell you that you aren’t too late. There is room for you to create a profitable digital product business.
The key is you just have to start.
No more kicking the tire down the road okay? Okay.
Today I’m going to share EXACTLY what I would do if I was starting from scratch. Knowing all that I know now, these are the chronological steps I would take to streamline building your digital product brand, growing an audience that is perfectly primed for your digital product, and focus on the highest and best use of your time.
9 Steps to Grow your Digital Product Business if you are starting from scratch
1. Brainstorm what digital product you want to create a sell.
Notice: I didn’t say get a logo, create a website, have an opt-in, or whatever other step you think you need to have in place before you work on your digital product.
If you want to build a powerful brand, you need to start at the product level and do your research to set your digital product business up for success.
Use these questions to help guide your research:
1. What type of digital product are you going to sell? A download, template, course, or membership? If you aren’t sure what type is right for you to create, take this quick 7 question quiz to help you land on your perfect product!
2. Is there a sizable market of customers that would actually want to buy that?
3 How much are they willing to pay?
4. How can you build a digital product that is completely unique from the alternatives on the market so you can have a strong unique selling proposition?
The keyword here is “brainstorm.” I specifically use the word brainstorm because the goal here isn’t for you to create your digital product right out of the gate. You don’t have to have ALL the features of your product mapped out or already be building it at this step.
The goal is for you to have a clear vision of what kind of digital product you want to create so that as you move through the following steps and begin to build your audience, you will establish awareness right from the start with your followers and subscribers on what you do and how you can help them.
As your audience grows, they will naturally begin to help you shape and mold the specifics of what your final product will look like.
2. Create a killer opt-in
Before you jump to website building, open a Google Doc and draft out an opt-in you can create right off the bat that tightly aligns with your digital product idea.
The main goal of an opt-in is to grow your email list, but there is nothing helpful about an email list full of people that don’t actually have an interest in buying the types of products you will be creating and selling.
List growth for list growth sake is a giant waste of time.
A better way to spend your list growth efforts is to create an opt-in that centers around the same idea or concept as your digital product idea.
For example, if you want to sell stock photos, you could create an opt-in of a bundle of 5-10 stock images for someone to see your style and quality of images you will be selling.
If you want to launch a course, you could create an opt-in that gives them a quick win around your course topic to show them that you know your material and you can teach them how to succeed.
You can also create an engaging quiz (like this one!).
3. Start up your email list
If you haven’t set up your email list yet, go ahead and get an account with an email service provider of your choice.
There’s many options available but my personal favorite is Convertkit.
I started my email list in 2016 on MailChimp and quickly grew out of it as my digital business started scaling. ConvertKit came to the rescue! ConvertKit is a powerful email marketing service provider and is my top choice for digital business owners.
With advanced tagging, sequences, and visual automations, ConvertKit has everything you need to start your list and grow overtime into more sophisticated email marketing systems.
ConvertKit integrates with all the major software and tech players (like Kajabi, Shopify, WordPress, etc) which makes it a no brainer!
Try it for yourself with a free account up to your first 1,000 subscribers here. (Affiliate link)
4. Write a Welcome Sequence
A welcome sequence is simply a string of emails that are scheduled to send out automatically at certain time intervals to let your new subscriber get to know you (your brand), learn more about how you can serve them, and introduce your products to them as the solutions they need.
An example welcome sequence:
Email 1: Deliver your opt-in
Email 2: Introduce your brand (and yourself) through the lens of the content you provide in your opt-in. Tell them your story and your why with your opt-in in mind!
Email 3: Over deliver and share a next step to the opt-in they originally signed up for. Give them another quick win here!
Email 4: Tell them what to expect. If you’re creating your first digital product, let them know it is coming soon and give a peek into what it will be! Tell them how often you plan to show up in their inbox and any other expectations they should have as your new subscriber!
5. Create a SMALL collection of Core Content.
With your digital product idea, unique selling proposition, and opt-in in mind, the next step I want you to take is creating a small collection of core content.
Depending on your preferences, create 5 pieces of in-depth and high-quality core content like blog posts, videos, or audio recordings.
Your free content should be so valuable that it almost feels like you are giving your best content away for free. And even though that feels backwards, the magic here is that you will foster meaningful and deep connections with your subscribers and followers that turn into actual buyers when you go to launch your product.
Content marketing is where like, know, and trust begins.
If you’re trying to grow a digital product business, you are in the business of building trust.
If you want to get people to like, know, and trust you on the internet-webs… people that can never meet you face to face… people that believe you are not another one of those sleezy people swindling them out of their money… you have to show up to create quality core content that connects with your ideal customer and delivers big time on value.
Use that content to point to your opt-in as a next best step for your visitor to turn to which is the perfect primer for your digital product.
This blog post you’re reading? Consider it a piece of core content that tightly aligns with my opt-in that I’ve already linked (this quiz!) AND with my products that I offer (like this membership with over 1,000 digital business owners inside!) See how that works? 🙌
6. Build your website
Ahhh!! Finally. The fun part. We’re six steps in and NOW it is time to build your website. While it would have been super fun to jump to building a pretty website for your people to land on first, saving it till now will make ALL the difference in a website that is built to convert your visitors from strangers to followers to subscribers to paying customers when your product is ready to launch. YES!
You don’t need all the bells and whistles when you go to create your website at this phase in building your digital product business. If you’re starting from scratch, create your website with the singular goal of getting email subscribers.
The key pages you’ll need for a solid start are:
- Home Page to quickly introduce who you are, what you do, who you serve, and how you serve them uniquely. Offer your opt-in as a call-to-action above the fold since list building is a huge priority for you! Then point them to your
- About Page to connect with your visitor, share your story, and help them understand why what you are building matters and why they should care (why it is the BEST solution for them!) Which points them to your
- Opt-in Page. Yep! Back here again. If you already have a product selling, point them there, too!
- A Blog for your Core Content. Pre-pack your blog with your 5 pieces of core content that connects and engages your visitor and invite them to opt-in there, too!
There are so many cool ideas you can add to your website, but sometimes simple really is best in the beginning phases. The key is to keep the main goal the main goal and focus your attention right now on building an audience of targeted potential buyers.
Need a website template built just for digital product business owners? Too Legit is for you!
7. Put your core content out into the world!
After you launch your website, it is time to put your core content out there for your ideal customers to see. Pin your blog posts to Pinterest. Create Reels from your core content. Talk about it on podcast interviews. Share it on Facebook.
Pick and choose what platforms you want to show up on and simply SHARE about the in-depth core content you’ve created to get people over to your website.
Share about your opt-in, too!
The goal is to start consistently showing up so that you start to become top of mind in your potential customers’ minds. When the time is right, they’ll turn to you to buy your digital products.
8. Validate your Digital Product Idea
As you engage with real people, start asking questions. Ask about what they need help with. Ask what they wish they had to solve their problems related to what you will be selling. Ask what their preferences are. The answers will be pivotal to help you create a digital product that they will be excited to buy!
9. Create + Launch Your Digital Product
Once you’ve validated your offer and it is ready to go live, launch it to your list and followers! At this point, you’ve done all the hard work to build an audience of engaged and targeted potential customers, so you’re primed for success!
After the launch high dwindles is where the real fun of the digital business model begins: Optimizing.
Optimizing is a marathon, not a sprint. Over time, you’ll work to optimize your digital product based on customer feedback, you’ll optimize your sales funnels for increased conversions, and create additional digital offers to serve your customers in new ways.
Want to make sure your digital product idea will be a success? Watch my free on-demand O.F.F.E.R Formula™ class and learn the true key of a successful digital revenue stream (hint: it isn’t a sales funnel, cool software, or even your passion). Start watching here! >