9 min read
“Blogging is like therapy for me and I’ve enjoyed getting to share our family’s story here with you every week. When I first started blogging, I sank hour after hour after hour after hour into this blog with no intention of ever monetizing the site,” says Shaye Elliott, founder of The Elliott Homestead.
While many of us get started with our businesses as a form of therapy or simply pure enjoyment, the New American Dream is to work as little as possible while making as much as possible. And if you want to do that with your blog, you’re going to need to look outside of trading time for money (consulting, mentorship, etc.) to digital products ideas that create that magical “passive income” everybody talks about.
Now, I know you’ve heard of passive income before, but you might be thinking, “I did start this as a hobby and I do want to monetize it, but my audience just won’t buy digital products. On top of that, I can’t think of a single digital product idea to create. I’m just not really a ‘sales’ person, ya know? Can’t I just keep blogging and do my sponsored posts and Google AdWords?”
I know. And you can certainly keep up that ad and sponsored content game plan–if you want to limit your earning potential.
When you keep your blog revenue focused on the amount of ad space you give up on your site and the number of sponsored posts your audience will tolerate, you automatically set a cap on your earning potential. When you incorporate digital products, your potential is only limited by the number of products you create and how you market those products to your audience.
And I’m here to tell you that there IS a digital product idea your audience is looking for no matter what your blog is about. In fact, Mariah Coz posted on Twitter asking people to share their profitable digital products in fringe niches and she collected 30 responses.
On top of that, monetizing your blog with products can be life-changing. It was for Shaye:
“That being said, at some point I began to monetize the site. It all started with the release of my cookbook last year which brought in more money than we originally anticipated. Frankly, I thought my Mom would buy a few copies for Christmas gifts and that’d be about it. But after investing over a year into putting it together, I was so thankful for it’s financial provision for the family. With that cookbook money, we were able to purchase our dairy cows, put up corrals, stock up on hay for the year, get our chicken flock started, and even plant a few annuals (that died, but that’s not the point). The cookbook gave us money that we weren’t accustomed to having in our normal, day-to-day budget and so we were able to use it as ‘building the farm’ money.”
Yes, Shaye’s cookbook is a physical product you can touch and feel, but she is a smart business owner and offers digital copies of that same cookbook that require no additional packing, shipping, or signing on her part.
Look: there’s a solution right there! Offer a digital version of a physical product you already sell. See, we’re making money already.
But you want more options, right? You need to see what’s possible and learn how it might apply to your business. I get that. So I’ve rounded up 19 more ways to put digital products into place in your business, complete with examples so you can see how others are rockin’ it.
Have a passion for the camera and the ability to shoot great images? We’re all tired of seeing the same old same old stock photos out there, so turn your lens toward shooting stock images that stand out. You can charge a monthly fee (like Death to the Stock Photo does) or you can do a pay-per-download model.
If you’re one of those savvy cooks who has your meal plans written up and recipes all ready to go each week, consider packaging custom meal plans for your readers. Meal plan and recipe packages range from monthly subscription models to one time downloads.Templates
Put that law school degree to use and help your audience protect themselves with some legal disclaimers. Templates can range from copyright infringement text for the bottom of a website to full blown contracts that can be customized.
You’ve likely heard by now that eBooks are a great way to get your message in front of your readers. But try to think a bit outside the box with your eBook and offer some add-ons and options to make the most of your revenue potential beyond the written word.
Have something to teach, but your audience is spread all over the world? Utilizing videos, screencasts, and slides, you can create a powerful online courses that serves your niche and maximizes your bottom line.
Sometimes packaged up as a online courses, tutorials are a great way to teach a portion of what you know to your followers. A tutorial can be a standalone product or it could be just a taste of a bigger online course so you have a built in up-sell at the end of the tutorial.
Let your audience adorn their office walls with your art, hand lettering, or photography prints. Offering ready to go (or even printable) artwork helps your followers bring more of your work into their life and it gives you an opportunity to be seen by more and more people over time.
Lots of people know how to sew, but pattern creation is an art that many are not gifted with. If you have the talent and willingness to share, offering patterns for instant download on your website is a smart move.
Maybe your best work is done by audio. So you offer some live sessions but, darn, not everyone can be there at the set time. No worries! Simply offer the audio download as an option for anyone who can’t make it live and you have a ready-to-go digital product from your live event.
While audio is great, some things are better explained with visuals. If what you teach is one of those things, video lessons are going to be your best bet. By offering video courses, you’re giving that feeling of what it would be like to be there live with you without the overhead, travel, or additional cost it might take to produce a live event.
One of our favorite ways to create digital products, email courses give you direct access to your reader in their inbox and they allow you to deliver multiple types of content through the links you provide. Email courses also train your readers to expect emails from you which ultimately means they’re more likely to open your future emails and newsletters.
You might have years of experience and backlogs of videos, audios, or written lessons. Or maybe you have content you want to produce over time, but you don’t want to wait to get students in the door. Membership sites are the ideal way to deliver large amounts of content over time to an invested audience who comes back month over month.
If you’re techy in nature and see a problem you can solve, a plugin might be your digital product of choice. Maybe you want to build the best social media buttons, email opt-in pop up form, or blog comment platform. If you can build it, a plugin is a way to see some revenue come in consistently over time as the awareness around it grows.
Ahem. We might be a bit biased here but building an app (like, oh, the best email marketing app out there) can lead to big growth over time. You can start small with an iPhone or Android app or you can go big with a fully developed web application.
We all want our websites to stand out. If you have the chops to build a custom theme from scratch, consider packaging it up and selling it to others. Selling a theme gives you an opportunity to also sell add-ons for the theme, courses on how to use the theme, and even membership sites for your theme users.
Podcasts, video intros, YouTube channels, and promotional bits all need music, and we’re tired of hearing the same thing over and over again. Musicians have the unique ability to sell original music for download in a package or as individual tracks.
If you find yourself constantly drawing things for your kids to color or cutting out shapes from something you sketched, consider creating some digital printables for your audience. They’ve followed your blog about your crafty adventures, why not let them play along while you collect some well-deserved revenue from it!
You’ll want to get permission from your clients to do this, but recording and selling your coaching sessions can be incredibly beneficial. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know, but hearing someone else’s question could jar something for us. Listening in on another person’s coaching session could be priceless and it’s worth exploring if your audience would be interested.
Now it’s in your hands. With over a dozen examples of how you can turn your digital product dream into a reality, what’s stopping you? Get to work!
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.