Iterating on digital products based on customer needs and feedback with Erin Flynn

Learn how Erin has experimented with various types of products — templates, workshops, memberships, courses – plus her successes and failures along the way.

Erin Flynn is the founder of Out of Office Entrepreneur, where she helps creative entrepreneurs systematize and automate their businesses so that they can spend more time out of office.

After starting her own business in 2012 and finding that she was glued to her computer 24/7, Erin started simplifying and systematizing her business. Now, Erin runs a 6-figure business and works just 10-hour weeks (without a team!), and wants to help other creative entrepreneurs do the same.

On the show, Erin and I discuss:

  • Her first product — a series of email templates for sticky client situations and how it’s still her best selling product
  • Why her product was so successful — it solved a very specific problem very quickly for people and people understood it at a glance
  • Expecting change — your product does not have to be perfect from the beginning. Iteration is totally okay!
  • Her subsequent digital products — how they were harder to understand and didn’t do as well. The more you have to help people understand your product, the more marketing you’ll have to do
  • How Erin used workshops to grow — they were free live and the replay with lifetime access was paid (and how those were an early iteration of what’s in her course now)
  • Being known can be really powerful marketing — and specializing your product is a great way to do that. You can generalize later when different audiences start asking!
  • The mistakes she made — trying to have two audiences (her web design business and her product business, selling to her peers), not trying to sell to her existing clients (with an add-on)
  • Her experience with AppSumo — how they do a lot of the marketing for you. They can be good for lower-ticket items and can be a lead-in to your other products. Get them on your list and nurture them. (Read her post about AppSumo)

Find Erin at outofofficeentrepreneur.com, check out her Say What email templates and connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.

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[00:00:00] Rene: Hey everyone. Welcome to Your First Digital Product, a show that helps maxed-out service providers create their first digital product so they can gain an additional income stream, grow their impact without increasing one-on-one work and experience more time freedom. On the show, I talk to business owners who have launched digital products and dig deep into how you can create, launch, and market your first digital product. I’m your host, Rene Morozowich. Let’s go.

[00:00:28] Hey everybody. Welcome to your first digital product. I’m here with Erin Flynn, and Erin is the founder of Out of Office Entrepreneur, where she helps creative entrepreneurs systematize and automate their businesses so they can spend more time out of office.

[00:00:42] I love that. That’s awesome. Welcome, Erin.

[00:00:44] Erin: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to chat with you today.

[00:00:47] Rene: Yay. I’m so excited. So you have products, you have products now, products in the past. So let’s just start at the very beginning. Tell me about the first product that you launched. When was it?

[00:00:57] What was it? Just kind of give us all the details.

[00:01:00] Erin: So the very first product I launched was called Designer Scripts. It’s now called Say What? It’s got a little bit of a rebrand, um, but it’s basically email templates at the time it was for web designers in sticky client situations. Now it’s for any type of freelancer service provider.

[00:01:17] And I started it because I was collecting like email templates, or not collecting, but like writing email templates for myself when I had nightmare clients. Yes. And. Just trying to like know what to say without like freaking out about it every time. Mm-hmm.

[00:01:33] Rene: or rewriting it every time. Yes,

[00:01:35] Erin: yes. So I would start saving my responses into just like a Google Doc.

[00:01:40] And then p I would see in Facebook groups, people would be like, oh, how do I respond to this client? And I would just like copy and paste them a response. And I realized you can actually charge for this. Like I could actually sell something so that everybody could have these just ready to copy and paste.

[00:01:55] Rene: Yeah, for sure.

[00:01:55] So then how did that work? So you put them together, you kind of had them [00:02:00] together, and then you just launched them for sale. Did you do it on your website, third party? Like what happened next?

[00:02:06] Erin: I did it on my website at the time. there. And, and this may still be true to an extent, there was a big thing though about like making sure everything was like, this is 2014.

[00:02:17] Everything was like on your website. Like you didn’t put something on Amazon or a third party site. Like that was really looked down on for some reason. Mm-hmm. Um, and we can talk about how I’ve changed that. Oh yeah. Okay. Awesome. But, uh, it was really like no hosted on your website. You couldn’t charge more.

[00:02:34] Um, at the time I had. Gosh, I had like my own, how did I even sell that? Gumroad? Maybe I think Gumroad initially. Mm-hmm. Um, and I pretty quickly transitioned off of there so I could have more control over the whole process. Mm-hmm. Um, but like, it was, it was self host. your product. Like don’t, don’t put it anywhere else.

[00:02:57] Mm-hmm. was kind of the thing, um, which I learned is actually really quite difficult. Okay. To sell products.

[00:03:04] Rene: So did you, you, what did you use then, like for the tech specs then? Um, to sell that and deliver that electronically.

[00:03:11] Erin: So initially Gumroad to kind of test it. Um, and that’s a really, that is still, I think a really great place to start testing digital products and seeing like if this is gonna be something that you wanna pursue, um, because there’s, so it’s very different, especially if you’re switching from being a service provider to selling digital products and mm-hmm. I think it’s good to test things out before going all in. Um, and then I started also selling workshops pretty shortly after that.

[00:03:38] Um, and I was on Rainmaker. I don’t know if anybody listening to this will know what that is cuz it’s been quite a while. But, um, basically it was kind of like a, a word WordPress, LMS type all in one thing. And that worked pretty well for what I was doing at the time. Um, but I’ve, I’ve switched since [00:04:00] then,

[00:04:00] Um, but anyhow, I launched on my website, um, as far as like the marketing and like to my very small email list, but mostly I promoted it in Facebook groups at the time cuz those were like the hot thing in 2014.

[00:04:14] Rene: Well, yeah, that was my question. So if you, so you saw somebody posting and then you would share maybe one template with them, and then how did you kind of be like, oh hey, I have more for sale or like how did that work?

[00:04:27] Erin: So it really worked pretty s I mean, it kind of depended on the situation. Mm-hmm, cuz in some groups, like you weren’t allowed to promote, so you couldn’t like link to things, um, that were yours, but other people could. And so once I kind of became known as like the woman who had the email templates, other people started sharing them, which was allowed in post groups.

[00:04:51] They’d be like, oh, you could say something like this. Like Erin and Erin has like a whole, I don’t know how many templates I had at that time. Now I have over 125. I think I probably had around 50 or something when I started. Wow. Um, and so people would just like start sharing it and then they would go and buy it.

[00:05:05] And so that was great cuz then I wasn’t having to do. The promotion.

[00:05:09] Rene: Right, right. And it, it’s, it’s different coming from you versus I think coming from someone else if it’s from like a friend. I don’t know. I feel like it’s a, not like it’s a better recommendation, but it just, it feels more authentic.

[00:05:21] I’m not sure.

[00:05:23] Erin: Yeah. It’s definitely like a, if, if somebody’s like, oh, I have a product about this. Then you’re like, okay, well you’re just trying to make money. But if somebody else says, oh, Erin has a product about this mm-hmm, then it’s feels like a lot better, I think, to that person. Yeah. It doesn’t feel like a money grab.

[00:05:38] Rene: Yes. And maybe they found it useful. Like, I, I was mm-hmm, uh, somebody was asking one of my Slack groups recently, um, about some wording for clients. Um, You know, asking for things outside of working hours. And she said, you know, what do you have in your contract? And I use Monster Contracts. Mm-hmm, um, from Nathan Ingram.

[00:05:55] And I copied and pasted just the small section of it. And I was thinking like, I don’t know, is it [00:06:00] okay that I’m doing this? But I said, he has a lot more in the contract, so I feel like it was like a nice taste. And then she could see that it very clearly solved her problem, solved my problem, that’s why I bought it.

[00:06:11] And then, you know, if she wanted to pursue that afterwards. So I, I like that, you know, word of mouth and. You know, like you kind of take yourself out. You, you’ve put such a good product out there that it’s, it’s speaking for itself and other people are speaking for you.

[00:06:23] Erin: Mm-hmm. That I think is like the tricky part though, because True, it’s so hard to create a great product that people know you for, and I didn’t realize I had stumbled into that for years and people still recommend it.

[00:06:41] and, and especially in like web design groups, um, because that’s how I got known basically. Mm-hmm and I’m like, wow, I haven’t done any marketing over here for ages.

[00:06:50] Rene: Yeah. I love that also that you’re known for something. I, the stories that we’ve had on the show so far are my first digital, digital product was terrible and it failed , and then I did something else or did something differently, so I love that it’s, you know, you’re still using that. Like it was such a great product. And I also love that there are templates, like, you know, a lot of people are like the courses and the videos and. It’s hard for you to create all of that, but it’s hard for people to consume all of that where like an email template, like, Hey, this client is doing X, what do I say?

[00:07:22] You know, and just very quickly finding something, you know, modifying it, you know, to their needs and sending it off. Like it’s, it’s a, a problem and solution, um, that’s very, very easy to see and very quick to consume, so. Mm-hmm I love that. That’s, So the audience was web designers, developers, but now you’re saying any, and and this kind of goes your bio.

[00:07:43] Any creative entrepreneurs?

[00:07:45] Erin: Yeah. Anybody who has like a service, like a freelance type thing. A lot of VAs use my templates. Mm-hmm, um, social media, you know, managers. So it, it really can go for a lot of different industries. And I had found that, um, [00:08:00] even when I was marketing just to web designers, other people were buying it because there wasn’t, at least at the time, there wasn’t really anything else out there.

[00:08:08] Mm-hmm. that was similar. Um, besides like hiring somebody to like write it for you. Yes. And that was very expensive.

[00:08:17] Rene: Yes. Yeah. And hard to find someone, you know? Mm-hmm. hard to find someone who’s going to, you know, work who, who understands your position. So you, you know, being a service provider, at least at one point, like clearly understood, you know, and knew exactly what to say.

[00:08:30] So I think that’s super valuable for people as well. So what did you learn from that product? You still have it, you said you rebranded it. Um, any, anything that you learned that you took onwards in your other digital products?

[00:08:46] Erin: So I think the main thing I learned from, well there are a couple things, but I would say the first one is iteration is totally okay.

[00:08:53] It does not have to be a perfect product. Mm-hmm, when you first put it out. And it likely will change no matter what that product is based on the feedback you’re getting, who ends up actually buying it. Mm-hmm, um, like I said, I had other industries buying it and then. I was like, well, okay, like I can easily adapt these so that they’re not like web design specific and then broaden my marketing, um mm-hmm.

[00:09:19] So I think iteration was a big one. I think the other big thing is if you find, like, especially like if you’re doing, um, a first product, I think the reason a lot of them fail is because, you’re not clear on like what exactly they are. Mm-hmm. and people don’t understand it at a glance. And so the issue with that is if they don’t understand it, they’re not going to buy it.

[00:09:47] Mm-hmm. And you’re going to have to put in all of this effort into marketing, um, and explaining like, why they need whatever it is. So templates, I feel like, are a really good first [00:10:00] product because typically they’re very easy for people to understand, whether it’s like a spreadsheet or like, um, a pretty template or whatever.

[00:10:08] Mm-hmm. or email templates. It, it, people typically understand what they are. Mm-hmm. just with a click, quick glance. Products that I made afterwards were not as easy to understand and did not do as well. So I did not realize at the time how valuable that was.

[00:10:25] Rene: That’s interesting. Okay, so let’s, let’s talk about that, but first really quickly, um, about the iterating.

[00:10:30] So, Any specific, I guess, thoughts or advice on how did you iterate? So let’s say, you know, so you sold the product, let’s say to 10 people, and then you wanted to change it, you wanted to add something else to it. Did you go back to those 10 people and say, I have more things, or did you, was it like a live document that they could get to any time that they could see updates?

[00:10:50] Like how, how would one iterate on a product that they’ve already launched and sold to someone?

[00:10:57] Erin: So there are many ways you could do this, um, especially when it comes to, like templates, for example. Mm-hmm, like if you have, let’s say, beautiful Canva templates, uh, for Instagram, you might like take the feedback from those and launch like a whole new template set.

[00:11:15] Mm-hmm. But if it’s something like my document, so originally it was a PDF template, it was a pain to update. Um, and then people would have to like go re-download it and eventually I did turn it into a Google Doc, so. Okay. People, people do make a copy of it. Like they don’t just get access to like the full thing mm-hmm.

[00:11:36] um, or they get the full thing, but they get their own copy so they can edit it inside of there, because I found like people were tweaking the email templates to match their business mm-hmm, um, and it was just easier that way than it being a PDF and having to copy and paste into something else. Mm-hmm.

[00:11:51] Um, but. Basically you can either do like it’s lifetime access, including all updates. Mm-hmm. You know, to this [00:12:00] thing, or I’m going to piggyback off of that and make like a new product, um, based on the feedback. So I could have split my templates from sticky situations. And then I also have like, everyday emails in there that are just like, oh, here’s how to respond to a new client inquiry.

[00:12:19] Mm-hmm, okay, here’s how to like, ask someone to pay an invoice, but it’s not an issue. It’s not like mm-hmm, you know, they haven’t paid, it’s just like, here’s your invoice. Mm-hmm. Um, so I could have done those as like a whole new product and maybe I should have, but I just stuck them into the same thing.

[00:12:34] Mm-hmm. So there’s really just like so many different ways, like you could iterate mm-hmm. and it really just kind of depends, I think like what makes sense for the product and for your audience. Mm-hmm. Um, and if it’s a course or like a set of templates that you update, it might make sense to just do like lifetime updates perhaps.

[00:12:58] Mm-hmm. But if it’s something like pretty graphics it might just make sense to come out with a new set of pretty graphics. Mm-hmm. Right. I hope that makes sense.

[00:13:05] Rene: Yeah, no, definitely. I think that, you know, saying that, you know, finding what works for you in the product, I, I don’t want people to get, you know, worried.

[00:13:13] Like, okay, you know, how specifically to do I iterate. Like, there are lots of options here. So, you know, finding the way that works best for you, there’s no one specific way that you can iterate you. Just the ideas of like making it a live Google Doc and people can get back to it or you know, just saying like, it’s a one time and then you don’t have to worry about those updates.

[00:13:33] So I guess just giving people things to think about that, you know, you have options. Mm-hmm and here are some of those. Yeah.

[00:13:40] Okay. So tell me about the subsequent ones. You mentioned that you didn’t reali, I forget. Tell me what we were just talking about. You didn’t realize.

[00:13:51] Erin: Yes. I didn’t realize how the clarity, especially with products was really necessary.

[00:13:57] Oh, yes. Okay. Um, so [00:14:00] for example, I invented this thing called an intro packet. It’s spread pretty well across the internet now, and people tend to know what it is, especially in like the web design world. However, it’s outside of like the web design world, it’s still like getting traction. Mm-hmm. Um, and people didn’t initially know what it was, so it was kind of like a play off of the email templates cuz I, I realized like people were having trouble with, like, clients not respecting their boundaries.

[00:14:27] Mm-hmm. so there were service and pricing guides, but I wanted something that would specifically screen out clients who are not gonna respect like my office hours. Mm-hmm. who are not gonna pay on time. And so basically it’s just laying out all of my policies upfront. Mm-hmm. And this was something that I started using with my clients, um, and then started teaching others about, so this was like one of my first workshops.

[00:14:50] And people didn’t know like, what the heck is an intro packet? Like what, what is that? Why would I want it? Why would I spend money on it? So they wouldn’t necessarily, like if they saw it shared in a Facebook group or they saw me tweeting about it or whatever, they wouldn’t necessarily click on it to learn more cuz it didn’t mean anything to them.

[00:15:09] Rene: Mm-hmm like very quickly.

[00:15:10] Erin: Yes. So they would have to like go and learn about it and like read a sales page or a blog post or whatever before they would want to purchase it. Mm-hmm. And then it would make sense to them. But there’s this like little like nurturing aspect mm-hmm. that they needed. Um, and still people need if they’ve never heard of it.

[00:15:28] Mm-hmm. and so having to have like that, um, extra step means like it’s much harder to sell and it’s something that, like I’ve, I’ve presented on now at like a lot of, um, like WordCamps and summits and things like that, and so, mm-hmm. people are starting to know what it is. Like I’m not gonna go so far and say like, everybody in the world knows what an yeah.

[00:15:51] Like they certainly don’t mm-hmm. Um, but several thousand people now do know what an intro packet is and are using it in their business, which is amazing. [00:16:00] But that took years. So like, I think I, I started teaching that in like 2015 ish. Wow. Um, maybe 2016, somewhere back there. Now it’s starting to like be a thing.

[00:16:12] Mm-hmm. that’s now ripped off a lot. Um, but, uh, yes. I wonder. Yes. Yeah. Yes. Um, but now, you know, like it’s, people are like, oh yeah, like an intro packet. Of course. Like mm-hmm, I need to have that in my business so that clients know what to expect. Mm-hmm. And so that’s a really cool thing to see, but again, like that’s not like an overnight thing.

[00:16:33] Mm-hmm. And it doesn’t, it still does not sell nearly as well as my email templates that people just get like in an instant. Right. Right. And I think that, uh, having that immediate recognization for people mm-hmm. is like a really key thing to selling digital products, um, unless you have like a big audience that’s built up who’s like, oh, Erin made that, I’m gonna buy it.

[00:16:59] Mm-hmm, cuz it’s gonna be good like that. Oh yes, that’s a thing. Mm-hmm, but that’s also a thing that takes many years.

[00:17:05] Rene: Right? Yes. Yeah, that makes sense. Um, so for the. The intro packet, just, is it before they hire you or is it right after they hire you?

[00:17:14] Erin: So the intro packet is before, so welcome packets were already like a thing when I made the intro packet.

[00:17:19] Okay. But that was giving them information after they’d hired you. And I’m like, at that point it’s too late. Like that’s, that’s too late to tell them your office hours. Yes. And make sure that they respect them. That’s too late to tell them when you need payments. Mm-hmm, like, you need to like have this stuff before.

[00:17:35] Mm-hmm. So it’s kind of like a combo, nothing is completely original. Right? Like it’s play on like pricing guides and welcome packets. Mm-hmm, but it’s very specifically laid out in a way to screen out those clients who are not going to respect those boundaries. Yeah, that’s, that makes sense. Um, had a lot of testing to like, make sure that that works.

[00:17:54] Rene: Yes. Yes. And I love how you said that you spoke a lot about it, so I think that’s a great way to get your message [00:18:00] out. For your products is to go and speak about them, you know, in person, online webinars, all that good stuff. Um, you know, basically that free content of, here’s a little piece of it if you want the whole thing, if you see value in this little piece, you know, and you want the whole thing, you know, this is available.

[00:18:16] So I, I really do like that. Um, would you call them workshops? We, I meant you mentioned workshops earlier and so now I’m kind of thinking about that. Tell me about workshops. Where are they paid? Are they free? So what, what is a workshop specifically?

[00:18:33] Erin: You can do them in many different ways. Um, I think when I initially launched them, I did them free if you attended live and then you had to pay for them afterwards, um, to like have the replay and like lifetime access to all the stuff.

[00:18:47] Yeah. And. They varied in price. I think I, I did them in like a range from like $17 to $47, but they were typically like an hour long webinar type thing. Um, I did them on lots of different topics that now make up my bigger course. Um, so they were like an early iteration of the content that’s in there like that.

[00:19:08] Um, but basically, There are lots of ways you could do a workshop, but for me, a workshop is typically live where people can ask questions and you can get that feedback immediately. Mm-hmm. On how you need to improve that product for the future. Mm-hmm. Or like expand it. They’re also a really great way to, gauge the interest in something like if you’re thinking about making a bigger product, you can do like a workshop on it first.

[00:19:34] Um, but they have to be something where the participants walk away with a finished product. So for me, like they’ve done a thing, they’ve done a thing. Mm-hmm, so they’ve made their intro packet, or they at least have everything they need to like mm-hmm complete it. Um, and we’ve walked through all of the steps mm-hmm.

[00:19:51] or they’ve adjusted their inquiry form so that it better like, gives their clients information or I’m trying to think like what other words I had, or they now [00:20:00] know what questions to ask for. Mm-hmm. testimonials and putting those together so they need to be able to actually do a thing. Mm-hmm, it’s not like one of those annoying. Like I’ve, I’ve used the word webinar, but it’s not a webinar word. Mm-hmm. I’m like, I’m gonna tease you by saying I’m gonna teach you something, but I’m not actually gonna teach you something. Yes. I’m just gonna make you feel like you’ve missed out unless you buy my You buy the thing program.

[00:20:21] Yes. It’s not one of those, it’s like an actual useful thing. Yes. Mm-hmm, and these are really, really good. Like you can do them online and then once you’ve like, perfected them a bit, they make really great mm-hmm conference or summit talks or presentations. Mm-hmm, um, because people actually get something out of it and then mm-hmm.

[00:20:38] they typically wanna, you know, join your email list or buy your products and get more from you. Mm-hmm, so it’s really like a, a cool way, I think, to connect with an audience really quickly and help them in an hour or less.

[00:20:50] Rene: Right. So are you doing like some, well first, how are you marketing this? Like, are you, how, how will people know that you are having one?

[00:20:58] But then also are you, are you doing it with them? Like are you screen sharing and, and you mentioned like maybe updating and contact form, like are you updating your form and then they update theirs, or are you just kind of talking to them so they know, you know, how, how is the work, I guess, getting done then?

[00:21:14] Both, both those questions.

[00:21:16] Erin: You could do it in so many ways. So first the marketing, initially I just did them to my email list and I had a Facebook group that was pretty active and that’s kind of like how I got them all started. Mm-hmm, um, and did the initial ones. Now when I do a workshop, it’s typically at a summit or a conference.

[00:21:33] Mm-hmm. Um, and so if it’s online, I’ve found it’s really tricky to make sure all your tech is working live. Mm-hmm. and it’s better. Most of the time summits also want everything to be pre-recorded, so I don’t typically do like a screen share type thing, but I will show screenshots like in a slide. Okay. Um, or I’ll just like lay out all of the information in the slides so that they know.

[00:21:57] And then they’ll also get like a copy and [00:22:00] paste worksheet so that they don’t have to, screenshot all of my slides or anything like that? Yes.

[00:22:05] Rene: Yeah. People love a worksheet.

[00:22:06] Erin: They do love a worksheet. Especially if they can just like copy and paste the stuff from it. Yes. And like have their thing put together.

[00:22:12] Mm-hmm. Um, so there are like, when I’ve done them live, like in person, they take much, much longer because I do help people. So like at Word Camp Denver, I helped people make an intro packet. I think that was a three hour workshop. Oh yeah. The content was exactly the same, but we were actually doing it together.

[00:22:32] Mm-hmm and I was like, you know, looking over their stuff and giving feedback, like as they would, you know mm-hmm, uh, tweak the sections to match their business. I’d be like, okay, but you left out this thing. Right? Right. You probably wanna put that in. So that took much, much longer. Um, I think people really liked it, but you have to account for, if you are doing things like with people or giving them feedback as they go, it will take at least twice as long mm-hmm as if you’re presenting it, you know, just on your own.

[00:23:00] Rene: Mm-hmm and then they just go do it after. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Um, and I think valuable. So you, whenever you do any of these, then you say, Hey, The rest is here. Like if, if you want the rest of the pack, you know, maybe you just did one, one portion of the packet maybe for the workshops?

[00:23:18] Erin: I actually do the whole thing. Okay. So people leave with a finished intro packet or whatever I’m teaching them. But I do have a bigger course. So like the intro packet is just part of the systems that you need for your freelance business. So if they, all of the other things.

[00:23:33] Mm-hmm, then I have a course for that. Mm-hmm. . Um, but I’m really not like a hard sell, like on a summit or Conferencey type. Mm-hmm. person. Mm-hmm. I’m like, here’s like, Go get more information about it.

[00:23:45] Rene: Yes, if you liked me so much and you were so happy, you’ll go find the information about me and, and I will have it available for you.

[00:23:51] Yeah, that makes sense. And I love that, that the product was like part of another product. So did you plan that at the time? Did you say like, okay, I’m gonna do this intro packet because [00:24:00] I’ve been doing it and it’s valuable for me and then I’m just going to do the rest? Or did it kind of come organically?

[00:24:06] How did that work?

[00:24:06] Erin: It was definitely more organic than that. Um, so I did the intro packet and then people were like, okay, but, how do you do, like what do you do? Like once they become a paying client, I’m like, okay, well let’s back it up cuz we haven’t done our inquiry forms yet and here’s how I screen people on my inquiry form and here’s how I do this and here’s how I do.

[00:24:25] So it all kind of like came organically. And then I had at some point, like 30 some workshops that I then like stuck all together into a membership. Mm-hmm. And then that membership became a course. That was for, specifically for web designers. Cause at the time I was still targeting web designers specifically.

[00:24:43] And then that now has eventually become a course for all freelancers. Mm-hmm. So there’s been, again, lots of iterations, lots of adjustments, um, as I went, but it was like, a very messy process. I don’t want anybody to think that I, I was like, yeah, like able to think ahead that, oh, I’m gonna make this one part.

[00:25:00] No, I did not do that. Mm-hmm, that might be the smart thing to do, but that is.

[00:25:04] Rene: Well, you responded like, I think it’s great that you responded to what was happening at the time. Like when people started asking for X, you were like, okay, now let’s work on X. Like I think that’s a great way to do it, because I think sometimes in our mind we’re like, okay, well here’s like, I’m gonna plan the rest of my life.

[00:25:19] Well, that’s not really gonna work out the way you think it’s going to work out. So being able to adapt, I think is, is really good. Um, so I guess maybe tell me a little bit about the, so you said like, course memberships, um, you know, what are some maybe like highlights, maybe some things that didn’t work for you in those, you know, maybe like, what’s, what was next then?

[00:25:45] Erin: So I did all the workshops. I made them a membership so that people didn’t have to like, continue to, it basically made it easier for people who were buying them. Mm-hmm, you know, at whatever price they were. They could just pay one monthly fee that was gonna be lower and then basically get [00:26:00] everything that I came out with.

[00:26:01] Uh, but the problem with that was it became so overwhelming for people to log in and see so much content. Mm mm And then not necessarily know as much as I could organize it, you know, in the system. Like, they’re like, okay, but like, what if I wanna like take this thing first or that thing. I was like, no. Like there really is like a process, like you should go through them in this order.

[00:26:23] But then I was like, that’s really more of a course. Uh, so I did revamp it into a course, um, called Streamline Design Profit, which is still available for web designers. Like it’s very specific, um, like for a web design. Mm-hmm. solopreneur, um, and all of the language is like geared that way. Um, but that, that product did amazingly well.

[00:26:50] Like it in as far as my standards. Mm-hmm, like it sold really, really well. Um, it’s pretty popular still, even though I don’t market it anymore. Mm-hmm. Um, but, I was still getting all of these inquiries basically for like other free, like, should I take this? I’m a copywriter. I’m like, no. Like, you really shouldn’t.

[00:27:12] Yes. Like it’s, it’s not, I mean, yes, like you probably could mm-hmm adjust every, but it’s gonna be like a headache. Mm-hmm. Um, so then I changed again and now it’s like, it’s just a standalone course. It actually at this point, uh, doesn’t have like a community or anything with it because I members were getting overwhelmed with the community and feeling like they had to log in and like participate in everything to get like the full value.

[00:27:39] And I’m like, you really don’t have to, like, you can just, I mean, do what works for you. Yeah. So there’s been like so many different, like, I guess iterations of like the same kind of products. Mm-hmm, um, like going back to like 2015 2016 ish. Like just like seeing what format works the best. Um. [00:28:00] And so I’ve done basically every format, I think, and they all have their pros and cons.

[00:28:04] Mm-hmm. And it’s really hard to tell somebody like what they should do, because it really just depends, I think, on the person and. How they want to run their business.

[00:28:14] Rene: Yes, yes, definitely. What you said about the overwhelm, I think is super important because I think that we are like, we wanna give everything, here’s how to do every single thing that you ever need to do in your business, and that is way too much for people to be able to consume. Like you just don’t have time.

[00:28:28] And I know that when I buy things and I don’t have time to do them, or I get into them and I’m like, Ugh, hard. Like I immediately like, and then you feel guilty and you just, you, you, that’s not how I think the product creator intended me to feel or, you know, would want me to feel. So, um, that’s something.

[00:28:47] But also I wanted to go back to, you mentioned that you started mostly for web design specifically and then went to a general audience. Um, because I think a lot of people try to speak to that general audience first. And I think it doesn’t work like that. People are like, oh, I’ll just go to everybody. I think you do have to specialize first.

[00:29:08] Like, does that sound like it resonates with your experience?

[00:29:11] Erin: Yes. I think that’s probably why I’ve done well with products because when it’s something that’s just like general, you’re like, oh, it’s, for example, email templates are, you know, like they, they’re still like easy to understand. But, um, if I was like email templates, for anybody, like not just freelancers, but also yes, any small business owner, someone who needs to respond to their Grandma, no. Nobody’s gonna like buy that, right? Yes, yes. So it still has to be somewhat niche enough, but I think that product. Um, it does really well cause it’s easy to understand, but also it had a lot of traction before when it was specific for web designers.

[00:29:54] Mm-hmm. And so when it’s shared, it’s typically shared in web design groups. Mm-hmm, um, it was [00:30:00] shared in The Admin Bar. Oh yeah. I don’t know several. Mm-hmm several months ago. Earlier this year sometime. Mm-hmm in it gave me 60 sales. Mm-hmm, because

[00:30:07] Rene: That’s awesome.

[00:30:08] Erin: Yeah, it was great. I was like, oh my gosh.

[00:30:10] But like somebody who bought it, I think back when it was specific for web designers was like, oh yeah, like Erin’s still got this really great thing. Mm-hmm, let me share it. I’ve never seen it shared. This doesn’t mean necessarily that it hasn’t been, but I’ve never seen it shared outside of a web design developer group.

[00:30:26] Mm-hmm, um, , if it has been, it certainly hasn’t had the same traction that it did. Mm-hmm. from people who kind of already knew my name. Right. Um, cuz they’re like, oh, Erin Flynn. Like that kind of rings a bell. Mm-hmm like, I know she’s in this group. I know, like she’s been in here and does web design stuff or did at some point.

[00:30:45] Mm-hmm, right? So there’s still that recognition there that’s really, really powerful. And I would say the traction, picking up traction outside of that has been a lot harder. So even though I have gone more general, I would say I still get most of my sales from like web design type of communities. And I think if I had started general, I would have probably given up on products because mm-hmm it would’ve just been like, I, I wouldn’t have had enough traction to make it worthwhile.

[00:31:10] Rene: Well, you’re shouting into the void of like mm-hmm. the entire internet. Yes. Instead of like a group, like a Facebook group just for web designers or a conference just for web developers or things like that so I think that’s, yeah, definitely important.

[00:31:23] I wanted to say about the, oh, so the product specifically, I think it’s interesting when I think people are deciding, you know, okay, I, I, I wanna create something or I, you know, I’m ready to do something whether to create something for their peers or their clients and customers, and it sounds like you kind of pivoted to the peers.

[00:31:43] You were like, I have built this knowledge to on, on how to run this business instead of trying to sell, you know, a DIY web design um, course for, you know, maybe people who couldn’t afford you or something like that. So that seems to [00:32:00] have worked well for you. Did you make like a conscious decision like, I’m going to sell to my peers, or like

[00:32:05] how did that come, come about?

[00:32:06] Erin: I guess given me a lot of credit about these decisions, but just kinda stumbled into Um, no, I would say that might actually be one of the bigger mistakes that I made in my business was trying to basically have two audiences. So I had my web design, you know, audience, people who were gonna buy web design from me.

[00:32:28] And, uh, I didn’t make any products for them. And I should have, looking back, like, I don’t know if I would’ve done like a DIY web design, but something like a, uh, content for your website Yes. Type thing. That would’ve then made my job as a web designer easier. Yes. Something along those lines would’ve been a really great thing to do.

[00:32:49] Um, but having, so basically I ended up having two websites and two businesses to manage. Hmm. Because I was then speaking to my peers and helping them with their businesses while I’m also trying to do web design over here. Mm-hmm. and I split my attention for probably way too long. Um, I only recently pulled the plug like this year on doing web design.

[00:33:12] Mm-hmm, because I mean, it’s really hard to like say no when people wanna hire you. Yes. Right. Right. And you’ve gotten to the point where you charge decent prices, right? Mm-hmm, like, it’s hard to be like, no, I don’t want your money. I’m gonna mm-hmm make a product and see if that sell. Right, it’s gonna be $27, I’m gonna be rich.

[00:33:29] It’s like not a, I have to sell 10,000 of them. Yes. I have to sell 10,000 of them to make up for this one project Yes. That I’m not taking. Yes. Mm-hmm. Um, so I would say if you’re like new to products, I would recommend and, and you’re already working with clients, I would recommend trying to do something that they will buy as kind of like an add-on mm-hmm.

[00:33:49] Um, and it will just like, kind of boost your income per project that you work on. I think that’s probably the best way to like, kind of test the waters [00:34:00] whether you wanna do products or not. Mm-hmm. Um, on the flip side of that, if you do decide to like, go all in with products, it’s gonna be really hard to manage also doing services because mm-hmm.

[00:34:12] what you’re trading with, giving up the time that it takes to provide a service you’re gonna spend in marketing your products. Mm-hmm. Um, and there are a few ways to kind of get around some of the marketing that I can talk about, but basically you make a thing, people are like, you make this thing, like this course, this signature course, and it costs $2,000 and then people buy it and then you don’t have all of this work and it’s like income.

[00:34:37] Yeah. Any clue? Yes. Any clue how much like nurturing and stuff that it takes to get somebody to trust you enough to spend that kind of money. Uh, and, unlike a client, like where you might come to me and be like, I know you do websites. I need a website. Uh, you know, like, let’s talk one-on-one and then you, like me and you wanna buy a website, you’re now talking to thousands of people.

[00:35:00] Mm-hmm. , you’re not able to do it one-on-one and you’re like going for like a 1-2% conversion rate off of your email list. So you’re constantly audience building and hoping these people will buy your $2,000 signature course or whatever, you know, whatever it is. Yeah. Right. Um, but, it’s, it’s so much more marketing and trying to make a connection that’s not one-on-one, that it takes way more time and those passive income gurus are gonna tell you about.

[00:35:27] Rene: Yes. I hate that.

[00:35:28] Oh, I hate that. Yeah, absolutely. But I do think, and not that I, I don’t want. I hope you just didn’t discourage everybody from making digital products, is

[00:35:37] what I’m hoping.

[00:35:39] Erin: They’re totally, I totally recommend them. Just have them. It’s not, it’s not as easy as people want you to think,

[00:35:45] Rene: But maybe a compounding curve.

[00:35:46] So maybe it, you know, and I, I feel like this about like exercising or diet or things like that where you go a long time and it doesn’t seem like anything is happening, but it is happening. Mm-hmm, you’re building that momentum, you’re building that, um, you know, [00:36:00] people are starting to get to know you. But yes, I do agree.

[00:36:04] This is not all just like, set it and forget it, launch your course. The end, like, yes. I, I don’t, I don’t think that that’s the accurate then I, yeah. I don’t like when people say that either. Yeah. Okay. So I guess just to wrap up, um, what, so what I, you have said a lot of things that you recommend, um, or Yeah.

[00:36:23] Do you wanna speak to that marketing really quickly? Like ways to make the marketing easier and then maybe what, what do you recommend? Like one or two things, top things, and then yeah.

[00:36:33] Erin: Yeah. So to make the marketing easier, um, try to come up with a product, and this is, this is not. I’m gonna say it, it’s gonna sound easy.

[00:36:41] It’s not that easy, but it is worth it because this is how you get, like the sales to come in easily. Mm-hmm, but a product that people can understand with like just the title. Mm-hmm, or a very short blurb. So like my email templates are, Say what? Email templates for freelancers in sticky client situations.

[00:37:00] Mm-hmm. Right. People get that just reading it. They’re like, oh yeah, I’ve had sticky client situation. Mm-hmm, when you have that, you can then, Like, like market your product so much more easily cuz people will just like see the title and be like, I got it. Like I’m gonna go buy it. Like it’s, yes, I have those.

[00:37:18] Those, yes. Yeah. Um, you can also list it on places like third party marketplaces. Um, and of course it depends on what, the product actually is. Mm-hmm. , but like creative market, AppSumo, deal, fuel, there’s like a whole bunch out there depending on like what’s the right fit for your product. Mm-hmm, and then they do the marketing for you for the most part.

[00:37:38] Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm, which I make multiple sales a day, um, on my email templates through AppSumo and I don’t do anything mm-hmm, um, except I had to set it up and like answer a few questions. Mm-hmm, uh, those sales can start to come in and then if you have it, for example, as like the start to, um, hiring you for a service or if you have [00:38:00] like a bigger, um, oh yes, uh, course or something that you wanna sell people into, then you can get that funnel going.

[00:38:06] Mm-hmm. But it’s this no-brainer. Like, I get it, I know what that is. Mm-hmm, it should be something probably pretty reasonably priced, like a hundred dollars or under. Um, so they don’t have It’s a lead-in. Yeah. It’s a lead-in, yeah. Mm-hmm. It’s not necessarily something that’s going to make you super rich mm-hmm.

[00:38:21] um, just off of those sales. But it’s something that can, like bring in money by then getting those people to buy your service or your products afterwards. Mm-hmm. and again, like really easy for people to understand. You can list it in those third party like marketplaces and have like really decent sales off of those, um, without having to do like the whole nurturing and marketing and like trying to somehow talk to 10,000 people and grow your list by 5,000 more every single month, right?

[00:38:54] Mm-hmm. So there are ways you can you know, basically get that lead in and then mm-hmm, then do the nurturing for your bigger programs, um, you know, once they’re on your email list mm-hmm. or in your, in your world. Um, but you don’t have to like, have that connection initially. Mm-hmm. for people to spend money with you, which is like, I think where a lot of people go wrong, they, they, mm-hmm.

[00:39:18] try and lead with something really big that needs a lot of trust and like

[00:39:23] Rene: Yeah. Like, I don’t trust you yet.

[00:39:25] Erin: Yes. Yeah. Right. Yeah. I’m not, I’m not gonna spend $2,000 with you. Mm-hmm, I just mm-hmm. like came across you, like, why would I do that? Right. Um, but I might spend $29 with you. Yes. And then you can get that lead in.

[00:39:37] Mm-hmm. So I think that that’s worked really well for me anyhow. Mm-hmm, and again, that’s, um, something that I’ve like, experimented with and learned over the years. Uh, it’s, I feel like a really great way to get past that first initial like, do I trust this person is like mm-hmm. Yeah. I spent, you know, however much money, like under a hundred dollars, they delivered [00:40:00] something really amazing to me.

[00:40:02] and now I trust them and I can like go further and like buy those things

[00:40:05] Rene: Move on to the next thing. Yes. Yeah. Yes and yes. That’s amazing. And I think it’s almost, um, and I just, just a reminder for myself, I’ll link to your, I read your post about selling on AppSumo, so I’ll link to that in the show notes, uh, for people, but also I think that it’s almost like

[00:40:20] because I trust AppSumo, then I, I kind of grant you some of that trust as well. Mm-hmm, like, you’re not just some random person because you’re listed on AppSumo and I have bought things that I liked on there. Not everything, but it’s like you, you kind of borrow it like another. like trust from elsewhere.

[00:40:39] So I think that’s yes. Yes. That’s a good thing too.

[00:40:41] Erin: Because all of those websites, all of those, like third party websites do have some sort of a vetting process mm-hmm, so that that helps as well. Mm-hmm. like people, I mean, I’m not saying nobody ever slips through the cracks on those. Yes. Right. But yes, I, I think that really helps people feel confident with buying.

[00:40:56] Rene: Mm-hmm. Yeah, definitely. Awesome. So your top one or two pieces of advice for people who are like I, they have nothing. They have no products and they are, but they want to, they want to get started and what should they do or not do?

[00:41:11] Erin: So I think what you should do is if you’re already offering services, create a product that enhances uh, the experience for the people who are buying those services from you. So like before I mentioned if you’re doing web design, maybe you could have something where it helps like the client come up with their content mm-hmm for their website, which also enhances your experience. Yes. You’re not chasing down as much content, um, and you can, you know, sell that as an add-on.

[00:41:38] Um, and I think along with that is don’t expect your first product, like the very first time you launch it to be this amazing passive income. Magical thing. Mm-hmm, um, I’m not saying that can’t happen, but to have that expectation, you’re probably going to end up disappointed. If instead you look at it as like, again, like an add-on [00:42:00] for your audience that you already have, um, like, I mean, if you can make like an extra a hundred bucks per client, like yes, that’s, that’s great.

[00:42:06] Right? Yes. Like, why not? Mm-hmm, um, so like, look at it as like a little extra bonus versus like this magical thing. Mm-hmm. And then as you iterate and you learn, like you can start implementing like the funnels and the third party websites mm-hmm and all of those kinds of things to like start growing that part of your business.

[00:42:27] Right. Um, and then for the thing like that you shouldn’t do, I think, is don’t try to split your attention too much because I think that can really slow both, both sides of your business. Mm-hmm. Especially like, like I did with like offering web design and then having like a whole other thing for my peers.

[00:42:45] I think if I had just focused on one or the other, um, my life would’ve been a lot easier. Mm-hmm. and I probably would’ve made more money and money’s not everything, but like mm-hmm, when you’re really splitting that attention, it gets stressful. Mm-hmm. And I think it’s easier to like, add on to what you’re currently doing.

[00:43:03] Mm-hmm versus try and do something completely different. Um, at the same time.

[00:43:08] Rene: Yes. I mean, but you could try it just to see if you wanted to go down that path. Yes. To see if you had a taste for it. But yes, if you decide you want to go down that path, don’t

[00:43:18] Erin: keep, don’t going down the other path. Don’t, like seven years yes trying to decide which direction you should go. Yes. Like. Yes. You know, maybe do it for a year and then decide which you like better. Mm-hmm.

[00:43:29] Rene: Yeah, that makes total sense. I love it. Awesome. Okay. Thank you so much. I’m so excited for my audience to listen to this and for me to re-listen to it again. But, uh, just tell us where people can find you.

[00:43:38] What’s the number one place you want people to go to right now?

[00:43:41] Erin: Uh, yeah. Visit me at outofofficeentrepreneur.com. All sorts of fun blogs and products. Yes, and a lot of new, exciting things coming in 2023 as well.

[00:43:52] Rene: Yeah. That’s awesome. Thank you so much, Erin. It was great talking with you today.

[00:43:56] Erin: Thank you so much. I’ve really enjoyed this.

[00:43:58] Rene: Thanks.

[00:43:59] [00:44:00] Hey, thanks for listening. I’d love to continue the conversation in your inbox. Email SUBSCRIBE to hey at yfdp.show or sign up in the show notes to get bimonthly emails about how you can create, launch, and market your first digital product. Can’t wait to see you there.

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