Launching Your First (or Next) Digital Product

Ready to launch a digital product? Here’s are the first steps to get you moving …

One of the greatest things you can do to boost your income, or just expand your options, is to launch a digital product.

The tools, platforms, and options for these are better now than they ever have been. So, how to get started?

In this 25-minute episode, Sonia Simone talks about:

  • Figuring out your market, and how you can best serve them
  • Growing your audience of potential customers
  • Designing your first digital product
  • The tools you’ll need to make your first sales
  • The LORE model of growing your new business
  • Some great resources we’re offering to help you out — and a chance to work with Sonia in-person


The Show Notes

  • If this is the year you launch your first (or next) digital product, our Digital Commerce Summit is where you want to be this October
  • For an even more in-depth experience, Summit attendees will have the option to attend small-group, hands-on workshops. Chris Brogan and Sonia are leading the one on online communities, and Brian Gardner is leading the one on WordPress-based business. If you’re joining us for Summit, check your in-box!
  • Our Rainmaker Platform was designed to let you market, sell, and deliver digital products with ease — all on a hosted, secure, turnkey solution. You can even take it for a test drive … with no credit card required
  • She always loves it when you say Hi or ask a question over on Twitter — find her @soniasimone 🙂


Sonia Simone: Greetings, superfriends! My name is Sonia Simone and these are the Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer. For those who don’t know me, I’m a co-founder and the chief content officer for Rainmaker Digital.

I’m also a champion of running your business and your life according to your own rules. As long as you don’t lie and you don’t hurt people, this podcast is your official pink permission slip to run your business or your career exactly the way you think you should.

Note: Links to extra resources are in the Show Notes!

Just a reminder that the show will be on hiatus in August, and then return in September with a new iTunes feed and hosted on a new site. BUT, the PinkHairedMarketer.FM url will continue to send you wehere you need to go. 🙂

Before I start — one of the things I’d like to do when I return is to do a mini-course that’s just for the subscribers. This will help me to restore the visibility on iTunes, and plus I just think it will be fun.

What I’m looking for are ideas for the course! I have lots of them in my Evernote and my stack of index cards, but I’d be interested in what you might want to see.

I’m thinking about creating this short free course around the topic I covered at our live event in Denver last year — how to improve your conversion. In other words, getting more people to take the action you want them to take, including getting them to buy things. I got excellent feedback on that talk last year, which is why it comes to mind. Let me know if that sounds like you would dig it, or if you would prefer something else!

Launching your first (or next) digital product

Since we did mindset last week, this week I’m going to get very practical. I did a call with my friend and business coach, Gary Barnes, on this subject the other day, and I think it’s probably something that would be useful for a lot of folks.

So today I’m going to talk about how to get started with a digital product — that’s a product that exists purely in the digital world.

Just a quick pitch — we have an entire live event devoted to this coming up in Denver, Colorado in October — where we’ll really walk you though all of this and more in depth. It’s going to be a very action-oriented session — a bit of a cross between a class and a conference, which is always how Brian Clark likes to set our events up.

I’m also going to deliver an optional additional workshop with Chris Brogan, so I’ll give you a few more details on that in a few minutes.

Step 1: Who (and how) do you serve?

I think we’ve said this about a million times on Copyblogger —

Everything good comes from the audience.

You have to know who you’re helping, and you have to know how you help them.

One of the most important things we do with content is to attract those folks, and then give them some meaningful help for their journey as a way to get to know one another.

So this is our blog posts, our podcasts, our YouTube videos — all of that great publicly-findable content on the web.

Most folks working on this aren’t getting specific enough.

I see a huge amount of “I help people make meaningful change in their lives.” OK, awesome. What kind of people?

The answer might be demographic — women between 20 and 50 who live in large cities — or it might be psychographic — people who identify as spiritual and not religious who are interested in social justice causes.

Or it could be both demographic and psychographic, if you’re into that. To some degree, you learn this by putting a message out and seeing who shows up. The audience that appears may or may not look like the one you intended to attract. As long as you still like them, go with the flow.

And if you don’t like them, try a little strongly-worded values conversation — get very real about what matters most to you. That will chase them away if you aren’t on the same page there.

Then … what kind of meaningful change? Health? Relationships? Finances? Time management?

And finally … how do you do that? Specifically? Could you come up with a memorable, simple label for your process or methodology?

Step 2: Pulling the audience together

If you haven’t started some kind of content hub to build your audience, do that now. You really do want something you control, and you also want a way to keep talking with them. Normally that means an email list.

I’m noticing — not for everyone, but for many — that some folks who have put together large and loyal groups on Facebook have a terrible time when they try to sell those folks something. Because people spend a lot of time in Facebook groups when they’re looking for free advice.

Not a thing wrong with that, except that these people don’t buy, therefore they’re not your customer.

In general, I’d much rather have an email list of 500 people who buy than a Facebook group of 5,000 who don’t.

When you’re really starting out and you have no one, you want to think about partnering and finding those audiences that have already gathered around someone you might partner with. You can also absolutely do something like Facebook advertising, if you have some extra cash and a lot of time to get good at that. It really depends on what resources and contraints you’re working with.

Step 3: What’s the smallest meaningful change? (MVP)

Once you know who you serve and you’ve started to pull them together so you can talk to them, your first step is to listen.

What’s bugging them about your topic? What are they struggling with? What’s frustrating or annoying?

You’re looking for opportunities to solve an annoying problem with your digital product. Maybe you’ll help people finally get consistent about an exercise habit, or learn how to catch Pokemons in Pokemon Go, or get a promotion at work.

Most business — and nearly all digital products — solve a problem.

The trick at first is — look for small problems to solve first. Initial steps on the larger path.

If you try to launch a massive membership community that’s going to create complete transformation, unless you have an incredibly strong relationship with your audience, it’s too much, too soon. You’re moving too fast. Solve minor annoyances, then bigger headaches, and work your way up.

As far as what you actually offer? Literally, if you can re-create it in a digital form and take money for it, you’ve got a product.

Some examples are:

Cheat sheets, mind maps, process maps, workbooks, ebooks, checklists, video tutorials (these go well with workbooks), audio tutorials.

As you start working your way up to bigger audience problems — and bigger solutions — you start getting into the e-courses, membership communities, virtual coaching groups, that kind of thing.

My friend JB Glossinger has a premium podcast called Morning Coach — Monday is free, Tuesday through Friday are a paid subscription. That’s an unusual model but it works well for him and his audience.

Make it small. I like checklists and cheat sheets for the very beginning of the process, then simple tutorials (audio or video) with a PDF workbook. When I say “workbook,” realize that can be 3 pages.

Think small.

Step 4: Options for tools

Actually delivering the digital product to the customer and getting paid for it has, frankly, been a giant pain.

When I created my first educational community, the technology side of it was a bear — and it was not cheap. Numerous products had to be stitched together, then styled by a designer to look good and work well. Then there were those couple of weeks we had Russian hackers putting porn images into our library, that was awesome.

Now, if you have any revenue at all, I really recommend our Rainmaker platform. You get the public side, so the podcast and blog we were talking about, and then a membership side that manages all of the login information for you, manages multiple products when you’re ready for that, lets you provide “free products” as well as various levels of paid things, and all of it is hosted, turnkey, and secure. It’s just a very good solution for this.

If you’re talking a checklist for .99, Rainmaker is a paid service and it’s not a rock-bottom price, so it may be that you won’t feel ready right now. That’s fine. My advice in that case is, go as simple as you possibly can.

You may want to go with a service like Clickbank or E-junkie to make things simple. They’re fine when you’re starting out, but at some point you’ll probably find it makes sense to upgrade.

Step 4: LORE: Launch, observe, rework, evolve

I think we’re addicted to creating acronyms — this one sort of popped up as I was planning out this session: LORE.

Launch, observe, rework, and evolve.

In other words, get something out there — it might not be too fantastic, but there could be something to it. It reflects an idea you’ve seen in the audience that you think might resonate. It helps solve a problem you think people might care about.

Then you see what happens. You talk to buyers. If no one buys, try to talk with some non-buyers — you can just get onto your list and ask for a few folks to chat with about why the product wasn’t a good fit.

You rework it so it’s better, based on the feedback, and then you evolve the product to a better version.

You don’t have to have the world’s most stunning idea. You just have to start with a spark that will catch — and that’s why we start with those micro-products. That’s how you find the spark that can catch. Then you fan that flame and make it bigger.

So: If you think you’d like to start a digital business — and most of these start as small projects “on the side” that can be grown into something bigger over time — just a reminder that our live event this year is going to be focused on that.

It’s called the Digital Commerce Summit, it’s in October this year in Denver, Colorado, and it’s designed to actually walk you through this process in much more detail. Understanding who you serve and then finding those folks and building your audience. Developing your product idea. Producing the product, then launching, and of course going on to evolve and grow over time.

You can find that at, you can click the summit section or if you’re very good at listening to URLs, just jump to

This year, we’re trying something new — Chris Brogan and I are going to do an optional supplemental workshop on putting together an online course.

Both Chris and I have done quite a lot of this — an online course was really what got me out of the stress of chasing freelance clients and on to a much more sustainable and (for me) enjoyable business model. We’re doing a hands-on workshop for the folks who attend Summit — attendance is limited and there’s an additional fee, but actually that fee is really reasonable right now. This is a roll-up-your-sleeves and do it thing, with Chris and I there to guide and help you as you put your business plan together.

It’s going to be fun and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll get you a registration link in the show notes if you’re interested — we’re pinning down venues, but the spaces for this are going to be limited so we can really focus on you as an individual. It should be a blast.

So, as I understand it the workshop is only open to folks who are attending Summit, so the place to do that is, slash, summit. Then we’ll let you know how to get signed up for the workshop with me and Chris if you’re into it.

Thanks so much for your time and attention and I’ll catch you next week. 🙂