I know many of you create products. I do, too, and I love it. It's very fulfilling to create something that's unique and solves a problem or shows people how to do something that's important to them.
Specifically, I create video training courses and eBooks. I'm going to investigate creating Kindle books, too, in the near future.
The notes below serve dual purposes: As a “wishlist” of sorts for a product selling platform and as “miscellaneous ramblings” on product creation.
I think I have a pretty good system on product creation, meaning I know how to produce them. The difficulty, for me, comes in setting up the product for sale. Not only is copywriting not my thang but getting the product ready for sale is a challenge as well.
Let's start there, at the end.
Is there a “best” platform to use when selling digital information products?
I've been at this game a long time and have tried many product selling platforms. My first foray into selling my own products (contrast that with affiliate marketing) was in using ClickBank. It's a huge marketplace with tons of affiliates. But it's relatively expensive to set up and you can only have ONE product for sale (there are add-on scripts you can install on your own server to accommodate multiple products but that costs extra money and it's a pain in the butt to configure and maintain).
I know. “Been there, done that.”
Then I got hooked on a “$7 dollar script” and its huge outgrowth, Rapid Action Profits. They both work and work similarly; RAP is far more sophisticated and complex. That's the rub.
One of the primary benefits of using one of the above is its ability to easily recruit affiliates. For that, RAP is awesome. It's really cool in that every customer is a potential affiliate and they can sign up simply by appending their PayPal email address to the URL (done easily by clicking the “affiliate” link at the bottom of all the sales and delivery pages. Pretty slick.
But the drawbacks are significant. First, setup. In the past, I considered myself a “tech guy”. I'm the go-to guy in my circle for getting technical issues resolved and figuring out how to make things work. But I don't want that in my business. I want simple speed of implementation. Make my product, put it on a selling platform, recruit affiliates, and start selling. I don't want to spend time on tech.
It took me a really long time to figure that out.
After all, “Money loves speed“ as Willie Crawford might say.
So I started seeking out simpler ways to sell.
I tried Digiresults. I still have some products there. But its GUI is nearly impossible to figure out and the support, while good, is definitely not speedy. Some of this has to do with the fact that they are located overseas and keep different business hours.
Don't get me wrong – if you want a system that offers instant commissions via PayPal, easy affiliate setup, and not-ridiculous fees, then Digiresults is a good option.
But it's not ideal.
Then I tried JV Zoo. I like it. It's very robust, offers similar features as Digiresults, and is a heckuva lot easier to use. Setting up upsells and downsells is pretty easy, too.
When I did run into trouble (scammer affiliates are a big problem in any network and I got hit with a few using JV Zoo – not their fault), their support was spectacular. The lead developer and I had some conversations via prompt email…good stuff.
And it doesn't matter that I don't really like one of their founders. Yes, we've met in person. But that doesn't take anything away from the service JV Zoo offers. It's really good stuff with great support.
I have most of my products on JV Zoo, in fact.
The last one I've tried that I really like is called Zaxaa. Yes, stupid name. It might mean something in another language. I have no idea. But it has features that are comparable to JV Zoo. It's a bit newer so it doesn't have as many affiliates on board, but that suits me just fine because I reach out to my potential JV partners; I don't necessarily want them coming to me. Unless it's Brian G. Johnson or Wil Mattos. Hehe.
Now, like I said, Zaxaa offers a similar feature set to Digiresults and JV Zoo. The UI is easy, too; adding a product is a breeze. There are some notable differences, however.
First off, let's get the money out of the way. If you go the “free” route with Zaxaa, your selling fees are half those of JV Zoo and Digi. However, if you buy in right now, on their yearly plan, not only do you get their service at about the same price as cheap web hosting, you also pay no fees to them on a per-sale basis.
The second notable difference is their integration with Amazon S3 for product delivery. For me, this is huge, as S3 is where I prefer to put my products. It's a simple edit to your product listing. I love this feature!
The third–and perhaps most notable difference between Zaxaa and JV Zoo–is how they handle your customers. By default, JV Zoo adds your customers' contact info (i.e., email address and name) to their database so that they can mail your customers their product access information but also so that they can send your customers their promotional material.
This includes sending competitor offers to your customers.
This has always left a bitter taste in my mouth.
Zaxaa doesn't do that.
Finally, Zaxaa offers the ability to create coupons. Digi does too, but I could never figure it out; it's pretty complicated. Like I said above, I don't want to waste time figuring something out. It's got to be brain-dead simple.
Zaxaa also offers a WordPress membership plugin that gives you all sorts of premium features. Free.
Enough about selling platforms. Let's talk turkey. I mean product creation.
Content – Traffic – Offer – List – Engage – Monetize
I often talk about the acronym, “CTOLEM”, which stands for
When you sell an information product, what you're really selling is “content”. It doesn't even have to be unique content. You just have to put it together in such a way that the price your customer pays for it is less than what he'd be willing to spend his own time collecting. Does that make sense?
So you pack up all that information into an eBook, let's say, that's easily digestible. Step-by-step always works. Lead your customer down the path he needs to take in order to get the results you promise and that he wants. You can add in bonus material, a good call to action, and a money-back guarantee.
That's your offer.
Send traffic to your offer. The most effective way to do that is through affiliate promotion. That is to say, recruit affiliates who will promote your offer for you. That's where those selling platforms come in. You will make LOTS more sales through affiliates than you will on your own.
Keep in mind that successful product creators like you and me have “front end” offers and “back end” offers. The front end (FE) leads into the backend (BE). It could be that the FE offer is an introductory offer and the BE offer adds to it. Or, the BE offer could complement the FE offer.
Often, marketers use a FE offer that offers 100% commission to affiliates. With a strong back end offer that has a 50% commission, for example, marketers can make a substantial amount of money using a front end offer that nets them $0.
A typical pricing structure is $9.95 on the FE with 100% commish and a BE offer at $17 with a 50% commission. This is where Monetization enters the picture.
Once you make a sale, get your customer's contact info. Again, those selling platforms integrate with your email list provider, so it's a no-brainer collecting contact info. I use Aweber, but they all integrate with several email providers.
Having a buyer's email list is gold. Now, you know that the people on this list are truly interested in your products; after all, they bought one. This is a better list to have than just a “leads” or “prospects” list. These are confirmed buyers who have already shown you that they are not “tire kickers”.
Now, don't do what I did after my very first product launch: Let your list get cold. You want to Engage (remember that from the list above?) with your newfound customers and keep them yearning for more from you. This is critical.
It is very difficult to re-heat a cold list. There is no “email list microwave” as far as I know! It's this engagement that allows you to monetize your buyers' list. You can make offers to your customers that they will be interested in. Plus, they already know, like, and trust you so subsequent sales will be easy to make. Repeat customers is what will ultimately make you successful.
And you don't need as many as you think.
Some notes on your Offer
Your product can be excellent and your sales page might sell it, but if your offer sucks, then your sales will suck, too. Make sure your offer is as good as it can be. People want more and more for less and less. While you should not have a race to the price bottom, you do need to make sure that your offer is better than good. It has to be outstanding.
People in the IM space tend to value quantity over quality. I'm not sure why. But because you are you, I know you're not going to make a shoddy product. But you still have to deliver the quantity that your audience expects. Throw in bonuses, webinars, pdfs, videos, audios, whatever. Load it up!
If you use my the concepts in “Content Four Play” about “casting” then this task won't seem so onerous. Basically, once you build one piece of content (say, an eBook), you can “cast” that content in all sorts of formats (video, membership, audio, etc.).
Other thoughts on product creation
You don't always have to sell your product. You can give it away. This is not your standard list-building squeeze page stuff. This is more effective.
Whereas a typical squeeze page would have you generate traffic to it so that you could “squeeze” an email address out of your prospect, this one is different because you take the offer to them. What do I mean by this?
You go to the Warrior Forum and make a WSO (Warrior Special Offer). At the time I'm writing this, the fee to list a WSO on the Warrior Forum is $40. Make your post, tell forum members how good this product is and how it will make them more effective, and instead of a “buy” button, you put up a “join” button that takes them to a registration (or subscription) page. Once there, in order to get the free product, they have to fill out the form (email only or name and email). Once filled out, they're taken to a product access page.
This is a VERY effective method for building a list that you can then employ the CTOLEM method on. You essentially took your offer to one of the busiest places on the ‘net.
If you can get 40 subscribers using this method and you can create 1 product a week (it's not hard to do as long as you stay away from “Bright Shiny Objects”), at the end of a year, you'd have over 2000 subscribers. Couple that with other products that you may sell and you could be looking at well over 3000 new list subscribers a year. That's not too shabby.
If you want to learn even more about product creation, check out Product Creation: From Zero To Done In 2 Hours