In this guide
  1. How to create a timeline for a successful product launch
  2. Ecommerce email marketing: 7 tried-and-true tactics to sell your online products in 2021
  3. 60+ unique digital product ideas for every niche
  4. Idea to product: How to build a valuable product from a simple idea
  5. The truths and myths behind passive income
  6. Why every entrepreneur should consider starting with services
  7. How to sell physical products on your blog
  8. The complete guide to the best ecommerce platforms for creators in 2021
  9. How to turn a successful blog into a growing software company

Experience this issue your way.

Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.

Download PDF

Issue #1

How to create a timeline for a successful product launch

Digital Products Monetize Your List
14 min read
In this Article

Posting a link to your social channels and crossing your fingers that sales pour in is not the product launch you deserve.

After all the work you put into creating your incredible product, you need a proper marketing plan.

Enter our product launch timeline.

We’ll teach you how to launch your product to get more customers and sales, even if you don’t have a big audience.

A solid launch process for a new product starts early. Our product launch timeline begins four months before your launch date, giving you plenty of time to plan and prep.

Pro tip: Although we refer to it here as a ‘product’, our product launch timeline works for services as well! Follow our timeline whether you plan to launch physical products, digital products (like courses or ebook), or services.

Product launch timeline

4 months to launch

Start your email list

The stats don’t lie—your email list is your business’s most valuable asset with an ROI of $35 for every $1 spent. Beyond a great ROI, growing your email list gives you:

  • Direct access to a loyal following
  • The opportunity to get product feedback
  • The ability to launch a product without worrying about social media algorithms limiting your reach (and sales)
  • An audience you own

Imagine how simple your launch will be if you have a few hundred people on your email list who are eager and ready to buy your product.

ConvertKit creator, producer, and audio engineer Philip Miller, said:

If I were to do [my launch] all over again, I would definitely spend more time building my email list in advance and trying to think of creative new ways to engage with people well before they suspected a sales pitch was looming around the corner.

-Philip Miller

Starting an email list before you launch your product gives your audience a chance to get to know you, so when you pitch, they’ll be more likely to buy.

You can quickly start your email list with ConvertKit and our free landing page builder.

First, sign up for a free ConvertKit account.

Log into your ConvertKit dashboard and click Grow > Landing Pages & Forms and click on Landing Page:

How to create a ConvertKit landing page

You can build a landing page with one of our templates:

ConvertKit landing pages
ConvertKit has a library full of landing page templates.

With ConvertKit’s templates, you can customize fonts, colors, text, and imagery (we have a database of free images from Unsplash to choose from or upload your own!).

After customizing your landing page, get the unique URL by clicking Share:

ConvertKit landing page
Get your URL to share your landing page.

Start growing your email list by sharing the URL on your social media channels and adding it to your website or blog!

ConvertKit creator and life coach Shannon Walbran says her ConvertKit landing page has a massive 55% conversion rate:

My previous sign-up for the same freebie had a conversion rate of 10%. It was just a plain blank form. [ConvertKit’s landing page] has greatly improved my reach, and it's helping me establish a continuous channel of communications, not only for this launch but for all my other products and services.

-Shannon Walbran

Product launch Shannon Walbran
Shannon Walbran uses ConvertKit to quickly build a high-converting landing page to help her grow her email list for product launches. Image via Shannon Walbran.

Start selling within minutes

As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

Get paid with ConvertKit Commerce

Talk with potential customers to validate your idea

Before turning your idea into a product, find out if the product you want to create is something your customers actually need. Otherwise, you risk developing a product they don’t want, and worse, won’t buy.

Your email list is the fastest way to gather information from your potential customers. If you already have an email list, you can send out a survey with tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. You can also create a welcome email sequence for new subscribers that has a link to your survey, helping you consistently capture customer data.

Here are some other ways you can talk to potential customers:

  • Joining relevant Facebook groups
  • Joining relevant Slack channels (search “YOUR NICHE” + “Slack channel” in Google to bring up any public Slack channels you can join)
  • Surveying past customers

Tonia Emanuel is a ConvertKit creator and a lifestyle and legacy strategist. While developing her product, she used past clients and her Facebook group to help her refine it:

I used my current clients and Facebook group to develop my product. I asked 3 questions: “were they in a mastermind, why they did not participate in one, and what would they need to spend a few hours a month that was of value in a mastermind group?” By asking why they did not join a mastermind I was able to take that data and add what was missing to my mastermind.

-Tonia Emanuel

At this stage, it’s OK to toss around several different product ideas. The goal is to develop an irresistible offer for your audience, which often means throwing a few ideas out.

Pro tip: Further along our product launch timeline, you’re going to pick advertising channels to focus your efforts on. While speaking to your potential customers, ask them where they hang out online so you know the best advertising channels!

Create your messaging and positioning

After speaking to your customers and validating your idea, it’s time to come up with your messaging. How will you position your product?

Think about:

  • Who it’s for?
  • What does it do?
  • Why it’s better than similar products?

Write down a few sentences answering your question, then keep it close by—you’ll need to continually refer back to it throughout the rest of our timeline.

3 months to launch

Create a launch plan

Now it’s time to pick a date—three months in the future—to launch your product. Then, working backward from your launch date, think about every step and marketing activity you need for a successful launch. (Don’t worry, we’ll help you figure it out!)

Create your launch content

Think about all the collateral you need to sell your product and start drafting copies of things like:

  • Demo decks
  • Product screenshots
  • Sales materials
  • Landing page
  • Website updates
  • Emails
  • Sales page
  • Swipe copy
  • Homepage takeover for opt-in forms

Creating content in advance helps you focus on more important things as you get closer to your launch. Music producer and audio engineer Philip Miller said:

The most valuable thing I did during my product launch was keep my information organized and prepare all my promo materials in advance. This way on launch day (and perhaps more importantly, on the days leading up to the launch) I could focus on engaging with people on social media and making sure I was present and clear-headed when people inevitably had questions or wanted more information.

-Philip Miller

Pick your digital marketing channels

You found out where your customers spend the most time through the customer research you performed last month. Those channels are where you’ll focus your marketing strategy for your launch.

Some popular marketing channel examples include:

Choose one or two channels where you’ll concentrate your promotional efforts. Any more and you’ll risk spreading your efforts too thin!

Prep your marketing team

If you have a marketing team, teach them your positioning/message and make sure they’re ready to sell. Share your launch plan with your team and keep all documents stored in an easy-to-access place—like Google Docs, Asana, or Trello—so everyone can access essential information whenever they need it.

Create your go-to-market strategy

Your go-to-market strategy document is a holistic document of all launch activities, planning, and goals. This can include pricing recommendations, market research, competitive analysis, and any other relevant information you might need

Find promoters/affiliates

Finding influencers in your industry can significantly improve your reach and give you access to an audience who doesn’t follow you. Use this month to list out influencers in your niche and reach out to them, asking if they’d like to be an affiliate.

2 months to launch

Beta test your product

Before selling your product, test it with your ideal audience. Offer your affiliates a free or discounted rate to test and review your product. You can take their feedback and iron out any kinks to perfect your offering!

Finalize your launch content

Remember the messaging and positioning you wrote down earlier? Review your launch content and make sure what you have aligns with what you wrote down. You can also ask a friend, mentor, or other professional to look everything over and make sure it’s launch-worthy.

Gather reviews from your beta testers

Adding reviews can generate 62% more revenue. Those beta testers you sent your product to last month? Reach out to them and ask for a testimonial/review for your product to add to your sales page!

1 month to launch

Announce your launch to build anticipation

Although one month might seem early to start announcing your product, it’s the perfect time, according to coach Tonia Emanuel. When asked if she would’ve done anything different for her product launch, she says:

If I could have done anything differently, I would have made the lead time four weeks.

-Tonia Emanuel

When you build anticipation around your launch the month prior, your audience has time to think about your product—and how they need it.

Here are some examples of building anticipation:

  • Create a landing page about the product with a waitlist opt-in form for subscribers to find out more about your launch
  • Put a banner on your site hyping up your new product
  • Create social media posts teasing your launch
  • Send out emails to your subscribers asking them to sign up for a product launch waitlist
  • Post about your launch on your blog

3 weeks to launch

Check in with affiliates

Make sure your promoters have everything they need to spread the news about your product, such as:

  • Imagery
  • Social media post copy
  • Email swipe files
  • Working links
  • The correct launch dates so they don’t post on the wrong day

Start seeding social media

Continue to remind your audience about your upcoming launch by posting teaser videos and images on social channels, your blog, and by sending emails to your newsletter.

2 weeks to launch

Set up your shop

To sell your great product, you need an online shop that has a:

You can choose from many different ecommerce platforms, including our own ecommerce platform: ConvertKit Commerce.

ConvertKit Commerce makes it easy to grow your email list and sell your products (without the hassle of setting up a complex ecommerce shop).

Here’s how simple it is to sell your products with ConvertKit Commerce.

First, click on Products within your ConvertKit dashboard:

ConvertKit commerce

Then click on Set up payments. ConvertKit will guide you through several prompts to connect your Stripe account to your ConvertKit account. Once connected, click on Create a product.

ConvertKit Commerce

Fill in the details of your product by entering the name, pricing method, and price:

ConvertKit Commerce

Then choose what you’re selling and upload your product:

ConvertKit Commerce

Lastly, create your URL:

ConvertKit Commerce

Then click the Create Product button. Your last step is to customize your product page, checkout, confirmation, and receipt.

ConvertKit Commerce

When you publish your product, you have the option to embed a “Buy my Product” button. You can add this button to the sales page you create with ConvertKit.

ConvertKit Commerce
You can embed a Buy button on your sales page with ConvertKit Commerce.

Research paid ads

Paid ads on platforms like Facebook or Instagram can extend your reach and improve your sales.

I asked life coach Shannon Walbran what one thing she would change about her prior launch strategies, and she said:

“I'll run paid ads to people who are already following me on social media. So many people were just on the edge of purchasing, and I think that will tip them over.”

-Shannon Walbran

Through ads, you can target:

  • People who visited your sales page through your Facebook tracking pixel
  • Your social media followers
  • Your email subscribers
  • People who are interested in the services you offer but might not know you who you are—yet

Create a sales funnel

Not everyone will become a customer the day you launch—and that’s ok. You can still sell your product on autopilot with a sales funnel.

With your email list in ConvertKit, create an automated sales funnel to encourage more of your subscribers to convert.

1 week to launch

Test, test and test again

Time to make sure everything is working and all your links are correct. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste from something avoidable, like a broken link.

Check that your:

  • Links and buttons work
  • Forms are functioning
  • Copy is error-free
  • Imagery loads
  • Affiliate links go to your sales page and track clicks

Week of your product launch

Keep sharing

Think of your launch as an entire week and not just one day. If you only share one day, you’ll miss out on people who might not be checking social media or their emails on that particular day. Continue to share your product on social media and through your email list for the entire week.

Make your launch an event

Everything is more exciting when you take the time to promote it well. Here are a couple of ideas of how to make your launch extra exciting during your launch week:

  • Host a webinar
  • Be a guest on a podcast (since podcasts are pre-recorded, make sure your podcast episode goes live during your launch week)
  • Host a TwitterChat
  • Release a new longer-than-a-teaser promo (like a commercial!)
  • Hop on Live to chat about your product and answer any questions your audience might have

After your product launch

Pop the champagne

You did it! Launching a product is no easy feat. In the craziness of a launch, it’s easy to jump from prep work to post-work, but it’s so important to celebrate every little victory you can. So take a little time to revel in your success.

Send follow-up for testimonials

About a month after your launch, send out an email asking your new customers what they thought about your product. Using ConvertKit’s automations, you can send out testimonial requests via email to anyone who purchases your product.

ConvertKit sequence example
Use ConvertKit’s automations to send delayed emails requesting testimonials from customers.

Using automations, you won’t forget to send out requests for testimonials. You can add these testimonials to your sales page to improve future conversions.

Take your feedback and make your product better

Everything your customers tell you is important. Make sure to listen to them and take that data from your launch to tweak your product for your next launch.

Create a successful product launch plan with ConvertKit

Marketing a new product is a big task, but using tools like ConvertKit will help you launch your new product with ease.

And following our product launch best practices ensures your launch goes off without a hitch!

Share your next big idea with ConvertKit Commerce—get started for free today!

Start selling within minutes

As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

Get paid with ConvertKit Commerce

Dana Nicole

Dana is a freelance writer who works closely with B2B SaaS brands to create content people enjoy reading. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sipping on a warm cup of tea and reading a good book (the scarier, the better). See what she’s up to at www.dananicoledesigns.com

The future belongs to creators

ConvertKit helps creators like you take their projects from idea to reality. It's never been easier to build an audience and grow a business. And you can do it all for free.

Launch your next project