Episode 7

Positioning yourself and your digital product for success with Alastair McDermott

Learn the mistakes that Alastair made with his first digital product, plus how he recommends that experts market and position themselves for success.

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Alastair McDermott helps “best-kept secret” experts & consultants to rapidly build authority by combining the power of video & podcasting so that you can command premium fees, cherry-pick the best projects, get off the gilded-hamster wheel of hourly-rate work, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!

Alastair is an author, consultant & business coach who hosts The Recognized Authority Podcast, The Specialization Podcast, and the Accelerating Your Authority Podcast.

On the show, Alastair and I discuss:

  • His first digital product — a “how to build a WordPress website” course in 2010
  • The mistakes he made — not having enough validation, not having an MVP and not having a niche
  • What he tried to make the product work — including a sales video, blogging, pricing experimentation and ads, but how he didn’t have a strategy
  • What he learned from the experience — how positioning his product within one industry would have been so much better and why
  • His thoughts on his lead magnet — how it was essentially planning (which is not sexy or something that people want to do). He found that the people who dove in quickly and didn’t do much planning enjoyed the course more. And how it would have been better to give people a quick win at the start
  • Writing a book — when you’re an expert, it can be easier and quicker to put content together, how you also learn more when you create content around it and how you should be genuine, helpful and passionate about your content
  • How the book fits on Alastair’s ladder — what his business model looks like now, how your product can be a paid lead magnet and how having a book on a topic instantly gives you credibility
  • How to get people to buy from you — having people get to know you, how audio-only can generate more trust in the mind of the listener, plus content repurposing and experimentation
  • His advice for people creating their first digital product — validate the market with strangers who aren’t inherently rooting for you, build an audience by creating something that gathers people into your orbit and just start (everyone starts at the beginning)

Listen to The Recognized Authority podcast, check out Alastair’s other podcasts and find Alastair’s book, 33 Ways Not to Screw Up Your Business Podcast.

In the episode we also talked about Alastair’s episode with Anne Janzer, Nathan Barry’s Authority book packages, Blair Enn’s Pricing Creativity book packages and podcast vs. video.

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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 everyone. Today I am here with Alastair McDermott and Alastair helps best kept secret experts and consultants to rapidly build authority by combining the power of video and podcasting so that you can command premium fees, cherry pick the best projects, get off the gilded hamster wheel of hourly rate work, and never have to suffer a bad fit client again.

[00:00:50] So welcome Alastair.

[00:00:52] Alastair: It’s great to be here, Rene. I’m so, so pleased that you’re starting a podcast.

[00:00:55] Rene: Yes, I know, right? So like I went through your stuff. I, this is already off topic, but I went through your stuff and so here I am trying to rapidly build authority through the power of video and podcasting, but maybe we’ll get to that after a bit, because first I want to talk about your first digital product.

[00:01:12] So how long ago was that and how far into your career, I guess did you start that and really just tell us all about it.

[00:01:20] Alastair: Oh yeah. So, um, I think it was. It started in 2010 and, uh, it, it started over, um, over a kitchen table with a friend of mine who had stayed over. We’d gone for a few beers and he was asking me for help with his website, and I started explaining to him how to build a website himself at WordPress.

[00:01:45] And he said, Hey, hang on a second. And he pulled out his, his flip camera, which was this camera at the time. Nice, uh, which really dates it. So, um, this was before phones really had good cameras on board. Mm-hmm. So this, uh, there was this little, little pocket camera that he had and he [00:02:00] started recording me and I was like drawing stuff out on big paper and he was giving him notes and stuff and he said, Hey, this is amazing.

[00:02:06] And so he went and he built his website and he came back and he said, that was brilliant. You should actually like, make that into a product or something to teach people how to build their own websites. And so there, the idea for this, this product called Self-Assembly Sites, was, was born

[00:02:19] Rene: Awesome. So there was a need.

[00:02:20] So it wasn’t just that you picked it out of the air there, you, you did find at least one person who needed

[00:02:26] Alastair: Yeah, exactly. The product and, and so, um, and I, so I started with him. Uh, his and his name actually is Alistair as well, which is kind of weird. Yeah. , uh, Alistair McBride is his name. And, uh, yes. So I said, okay, well, I said, let, let’s do it then, because I, I had just, um, had a very bad experience with a, a previous startup that I had with, um, where, where I had a, a, a business partner who I didn’t really, uh, I didn’t really get on with mm-hmm.

[00:02:55] we were, we were kind of chalk and cheese and so I was feeling a bit bruised from that. Um, and I, I, I like Al, like Al a lot, and even though this, this project ultimately didn’t work out, we’re still very, very close friends. Mm-hmm. And so, so yeah, so we, we, we started building this together. Um, and I wanted it, I, I was kind of reacting to the previous, um, to the previous project a little bit, which was a software pro product.

[00:03:19] Okay. Um, so I was kind of reacting to that a little bit in, in, um, you know, I wanted to make it really good and I wanted to do it the right way, cuz I felt that we hadn’t done that with the previous project. Okay. Okay. So, um, so yeah, so it was interesting. So, um, yeah, I, I, I. I could talk, I could talk for an hour on this, but I wanna answer your question, so, um,

[00:03:38] Rene: Yeah, no, well, I’m just gonna ask you more questions about it.

[00:03:40] So you said it was a course. Mm-hmm. So how long did it take you to create it and then, oh, you know, kind of what was the Oh, no.

[00:03:53] Alastair: So now in, in my defense, I, I just wanna say that there was no, um, lean startup movement [00:04:00] or minimum viable product. No, no. MVP wasn’t like that, that those words did not exist. When I put this , well, boy, do I know about them now.

[00:04:08] Rene: Right? Yep, exactly.

[00:04:10] Alastair: Um, because, uh, we, we took the, uh, the lean startup approach, or the minimum viable product, and we turned that upside down. Okay. And did the complete opposite.

[00:04:18] Rene: So it was everything. You did all of the things.

[00:04:21] Alastair: Uh, yeah. Like, before we launched, we had 108 or 110 videos. Oh my gosh. Uh, every one of those videos, um, it had its own page on the website.

[00:04:33] Um, in, so this, this was before, um, there were, uh, a lot of, of, uh, learning management systems. Mm-hmm, like LearnDash and things like that. Uh, easily available. So, basically a built a custom, uh, a custom WordPress website for it. Um, which had all of these, um, these custom post types, and I don’t wanna get too technical about it mm-hmm.

[00:04:53] But, um, we, we were doing stuff with this site that was really cool. Like, for example, um, we had the video hosting, uh, where you could select if you were on slow connections and you’d get a lower bit rate video. Um, YouTube wasn’t very big at the time. Mm-hmm, which is kind of hard to believe like talking about it now, but Yeah.

[00:05:12] But there was a time, you know, like, um, video hosting wasn’t very developed. No, I’m not saying we would’ve put them on YouTube, but video hosting as a thing, it just wasn’t very developed, so. Mm-hmm, uh, things like having high definition video, and then this lower resolution one for people who run slower connections.

[00:05:28] Uh, that was, that was something that we did. And like we even had the ability for people to download the episode or the, the, the, the training course. Oh, wow. As an audio, you know? Mm-hmm. Um, so we had lots and lots of bells and whistles, and then our bells and whistles had bells and whistles, so Oh, wow. It was, it was really cool as a product.

[00:05:46] Like there was a lot of stuff. But we made some absolutely diabolically critical mistakes.

[00:05:53] Rene: So do you wanna share those with us then, or what those first part,

[00:05:56] Alastair: the question? Yeah. Um, no minimum viable app approach. Mm-hmm, [00:06:00] so no minimum viable products. And, and, um, so we didn’t test, we didn’t really test, you know, we didn’t create something small and then go out and test the market with it.

[00:06:08] Mm-hmm, uh, that was the first thing. Second thing is we, we didn’t have a niche, and this is something I talk a lot about now. I have a podcast called the Specialization Podcast, which is like an audio training course for people who want to niche down and want to specialize because, and because I know the importance of having a niche

[00:06:29] So, um, yeah, that was a really crucial, uh, mistake as well. We didn’t actually pick any one niche. We were trying to help everybody who wants to build websites, to build websites. Okay. And, um, yeah, and, and that’s like, I don’t know, like we, we, we could talk for an hour about just that one thing. Um, it’s if, if you’re building products, you really need to pick somebody specific to start.

[00:06:51] Rene: Mm-hmm. So, yeah, so who the audience was was like everybody who wanted to build a website and, and really like it, it wasn’t a very specific problem. Like, yeah. So did people just not, I guess maybe what happened after you launched it? Like, did you get some interest? Did you get feedback at that point? And then what did you do from there to try to, you know, I guess,

[00:07:11] Alastair: yeah, I mean, help it along.

[00:07:13] We had some people, I mean some people bought it and thank you to those people. Um, but no, it was, um, it wasn’t, uh, it, like we, we, we didn’t build up any kind of critical mass. Uh, so what we did was we hired a sales copywriter to write a sales page for us. Mm-hmm. And we got an, uh, um, a video made, uh, an explainer video, um, which is actually really, really cool.

[00:07:44] And, um, we, we kind of bootstrapped that a little bit as well. And, um, so we got this cool explainer video done. And, and, and so we spent, you know, four or $5,000 on, on doing that, which is not a huge amount of money, thankfully. Um, but again, we were kind of [00:08:00] bootstrapping this mm-hmm and, and, and that didn’t work.

[00:08:03] And then we started blogging for months about WordPress related topics. Mm-hmm. And again, there was no specific niche. Uh, there was, there, it just, it wasn’t, it wasn’t done in, in a very strategic way. Mm-hmm. And so ultimately it, it failed miserably. And, uh, the other thing, we had difficulty with the pricing cuz we were like, we were wondering how to price it and uh, like we were trying to anchor it against the cost of web design.

[00:08:31] Mm-hmm, which. So if you were to hire somebody, um, how much is that gonna cost you? And you know, like that could be between, you know, a thousand dollars at the super low end to 5,000 to 10,000 for a professional. Mm-hmm. Maybe 20,000, 50,000 if it’s e-commerce, you know, who knows what that is. And so we, we were.

[00:08:50] uh, we were trying to sell it at $77 a month, uh, and then we dropped it to $47 a month, and then $17 a month. Mm-hmm. And then we tried one off pricing at 40, $47. And again, all those numbers started ending in seven because we thought that was the right way to go. Yes. Yes. Um, and we did, we did some ads, uh, on Google AdWords and things like that.

[00:09:12] But I, I think a, a major problem is the, the, the lack of niche and the fact that we were in the WordPress space. Mm-hmm. And I, I found a quote a few years later from the guy who created WP101, Shawn Hesketh, and he, he, uh, talked about the, the problems he had in with pricing, and they were charging $12 a month.

[00:09:39] Um, and $19 one off for mm-hmm for lifetime access. Wow. Um, so, and that was too, I think that was to like the, the basic packet. And then he had a, um, and a more advanced packet for a, you know, for $40 or, or $50 or something. But when I looked at the numbers, I realized like that we were off by an order of magnitude [00:10:00] with our pricing.

[00:10:00] Mm-hmm. , um, in that space. We, we were just way too expensive and I mm-hmm, I still firmly believe that in the WordPress market, um, that’s selling to people. Um, and if you put the word word, if you put the word WordPress on there, I think that you’re immediately dropping the value of what you’re selling.

[00:10:17] Rene: Because it’s open source and free.

[00:10:19] Free.

[00:10:19] Alastair: I think it’s a, it’s a hugely price sensitive market. Mm-hmm, uh, I think that a lot of people, uh, a lot of DIY people in that market, and we were also doing selling a DIY product, you know, do it yourself. Right. And so, yeah, I mean, thinking back there were so many problems, but I, I do think that this was one of those projects where, um, it, it, it was a bit like, like a bit like me doing an MBA or something like that, you know, because it taught me so much and yes, it also cost me a lot of time and money.

[00:10:51] Yes.

[00:10:51] Rene: Yes, that happens. That happens. Yeah. So what specifically, I guess if you want to, like, what did you learn from the thing and if, if you were to do it again, or maybe if you just wanna talk about like, have you done any digital products since then? Um, I know you have a book coming out. Like are you considering that a digital product?

[00:11:08] Like let’s talk about that.

[00:11:10] Alastair: Okay. Um, well, the things I learned are, are a lot of the things I talked to you about already. Um, the lack of niche, uh, is, is probably one of the, the biggest ones, and something I talk to people all the time and including with you a lot. Mm-hmm. Um, you know, I, I think specialization is so important and I think that nicheing down and picking a specific target market, ideally an industry vertical, um, if we.

[00:11:33] If we had picked, uh, a vertical, like let’s say e-commerce, like mm-hmm. Or simply e-commerce. We’d picked something like fashion or, you know, clothes retailers, you know, clothes retailers who want to build their own, um, e-commerce website. It would’ve been much more specific. We would’ve been able to target people.

[00:11:52] Um, the video content that we created would’ve been much more specific. We would’ve had zero competition. Um, it would’ve been, you know, our, [00:12:00] our, um, clients or customers would’ve, um, gathered at some conference or there would be a mm-hmm a way to find them, you know, somewhere, uh, they’d read the same trade magazine.

[00:12:09] So, so the, the, the niche thing I think is super important, right? Um, another thing is, uh, one of the things that we’re, we offered as a lead magnet to get people to sign up to our email was we offered something that would help people to plan. And this is something that I, I still struggle with a little bit because planning is usually the first step in mm-hmm.

[00:12:34] almost any kind of project, but planning is just not sexy. Planning is something that people don’t really want to do. Mm-hmm, um, it’s this necessary thing before we get to the cool stuff. Mm-hmm and, uh, so I, I think. The value of going through a plan I is, is it’s very high value to some people, but a lot of people just want to get in, in our case, to the building of the website.

[00:12:59] Mm-hmm. So they’d rather dive into building the website and then go back and do some planning. Mm-hmm rather than the other way around. That’s, that’s what I found when we, when we talked to people mm-hmm.

[00:13:07] Rene: Um, even though that’s not a great way. It’s not a great way at all. You’re not like, it’s better if you do it the other way.

[00:13:14] Alastair: Well, at least from a logical point of view, it seems that way. Um, now, if you look at it from another point of view, maybe it could be the case that, that they need some context before they can do the planning. True. So maybe they need to dive in and play with the building blocks first.

[00:13:30] Rene: Mm-hmm get their feet wet.

[00:13:30] Alastair: Or they can go and do the planning.

[00:13:32] Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. But either way, what, what I found with was that, um, the people who dived straight in and didn’t do any planning, enjoyed it and used it more interest than the people who went through the planning process. Okay. And even, and, and a lot of people just didn’t bother with the planning stuff.

[00:13:49] Mm-hmm. So, yeah. So, um, I think what we needed to do was give people a quick win at the start. Mm-hmm. Ooh, good point. I think that would’ve been, that would’ve been better than asking them to do some [00:14:00] planning, which I think is kind of deeply, deeply unattractive as a, as an offering.

[00:14:05] Rene: Do you think that, like, as part of the existing product or as like an even like a smaller lead in Yeah.

[00:14:11] To the, a bigger paid product. Like what, what would you think about that?

[00:14:16] Alastair: I think, um, if there’s a way to give them a quick win, I think that, like, I think that that’s, that’s the criteria for me. Um, and I, I think it doesn’t really matter if it’s separate as a product or if it’s a part of the product, but, um, I think giving them a quick win

[00:14:31] is more important. I think it’s one of the reasons why gamification as a concept has, has grown hugely because mm-hmm people get the, the kind of the dopamine hit of mm-hmm of ticking boxes and seeing numbers going up or getting badges Yes. Or whatever the, the gamification type stuff is. Um, but I think that that gives, gives you a feeling of progress, um, whereas planning and, and that can feel like you’re not making so much progress, even if it’s something, you know, even if it’s very important.

[00:14:58] Rene: Mm-hmm. Yeah. That that totally makes sense. Yeah. For sure. So what about, uh, future digital products? We talked about the book. Do you wanna talk about the book?

[00:15:06] Alastair: Oh, yeah, sure. So, um, the book that I’m, uh, just about to release is called 33 Ways Not To Screw Up Your Business Podcast. And, uh, I’m looking forward to getting that released. That’s, that’s come out really, really soon.

[00:15:19] So, uh, maybe even by the time this podcast comes out, it’ll be, it’ll be.

[00:15:23] Rene: Perfect. And so is it, I think you had really wanted to do a print, like you, you wanna hold something in your hand?

[00:15:30] Alastair: I’m using a, a hybrid publishing model. There is a publisher. Um, and the way that I found the publisher was I interviewed an author on my podcast and she had a book called 33 Ways Not To Screw Up Your Business Emails.

[00:15:44] Hmm. Uh, and you’ll notice the similarities in the title. Yes. Yes. So, um, that was Anne Janzer. And so I was talking to Anne and she said, oh, you know, you should interview my publisher Melissa Wilson. And Melissa is great. She’d be a guest for your podcast, The Recognized Authority. And so I had [00:16:00] Melissa come on the podcast and I was talking to Melissa and she said we are looking for authors for this series.

[00:16:06] It’s a hybrid publishing model. Would you be interested in writing a book? I was like, huh, I dunno, that could be interesting. If, so, it’s a 33 ways not to screw up X in a business context. So what, what would that be? And so I was thinking, well, one thing I’m doing a lot of now is podcasting. I, I now have three podcasts.

[00:16:20] Mm-hmm. So, um, so I’d be quite happy to, to write about, you know, how not to screw up your business podcast. And, um, and so I did a test to see. I wrote an outline of the book, 33 points. Um, I. The, the title and, uh, a two line summary. And I, I wrote that one morning, uh, at about 5:00 AM when I woke up Nice.

[00:16:41] And I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I just, and, and wrote that and, and I, I just wrote it out straight in about an hour. Mm-hmm. . And so I said, okay, this, this is something that I could write about. So, um, I went back to Melissa and I said, yeah, hey, how about this? And she said, yeah. And then I wrote the book, um, effectively in a month because I, I tracked the word count and, um, I wrote, I wrote most, most of it in, in, um, 30 days, which is kind of cool.

[00:17:04] And that’s just because the, the, the format of that book, uh, kind of lends itself to being written quite quickly.

[00:17:11] Rene: And you were an expert in the field. Like you were, you were so knowledgeable about the topic that it was easy for you to put that content together.

[00:17:21] Alastair: That’s that’s true. And, and that obviously helps when you know what you’re writing about.

[00:17:25] Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think that’s kind of, that’s kind of a prerequisite, although not, not 100%, because the learning, the process of writing does actually teach you, um, you, you learn while you’re writing. So, I mean, I, I learned more about podcasting by writing the book for sure. Yes. Yeah. . But, um, yeah. Yeah, I think it was, it, it, it, it helps that it was something I, I have thought an awful lot about.

[00:17:48] Rene: Mm-hmm, I think it’s, it, it, I don’t know, you know, asking a question to try to make a point that I wanna make, but like, you know, when thinking about a digital product to create, like you want to [00:18:00] create something that you know something about that you can speak to. And yes, you may learn more as you’re doing some research, but you don’t want to create something that, you know, it’s just going to take you a ton of time to do the research on like, you wanna speak from some authority.

[00:18:13] So, you know, I think that’s important in, in trying to determine what kind of digital product you wanna create. What do you know a lot about? Like what can you share with other people? So that’s, you

[00:18:23] Alastair: know, I have, I think, I think that’s really important. Um, and it’s, you, you actually feel like a bit of a fraud when you’re trying to write about something that you don’t really know a lot about.

[00:18:35] Mm-hmm and I, I, I’m just, because I was thinking about, um, about self-assembly Sites and, and I hope Al uh, my, my, my co-founder Al McBride, hope he doesn’t mind me speaking outta school here, but I know that he really didn’t like writing blog posts about WordPress stuff because mm-hmm because, um, that was one of the things that he had to do.

[00:18:55] Mm-hmm and he was on our, was on our marketing plan and he didn’t like it cuz he felt like he was a fraud because he was writing posts about WordPress plugins and things and, and it just wasn’t his mm-hmm. Um, it wasn’t his field of expertise. Now he actually did learn so much about it to the point that he was actually building WordPress websites a couple years later for a short period of time.

[00:19:16] So, yeah, that’s where the learning aspect of writing about something comes in, I think. Mm-hmm. Yeah, for sure. Um, but, but yeah, it, for sure, it, it can be really difficult to write about stuff. But I, I think that it is important like to, if, if you are doing that, you can do it in a way that’s authentic and genuine.

[00:19:34] You know, like you don’t have to be an expert to write about something. You can write about what you are learning about something. Mm-hmm, hey, this is something I’m learning about, and kind of journal it as you go. Mm-hmm, and that’s, that’s a way to write and that’s a way to write something from a, a genuine standpoint in a way that’s actually useful for other people, but for sure.

[00:19:52] Rene: Here’s where I am in this journey.

[00:19:54] Alastair: Being the authority at the end of that. Mm-hmm.

[00:19:56] Rene: Yes. True. Yeah, definitely. But I think something that you are interested in, [00:20:00] something that you are passionate about, you know, you can, you know, have that beginner’s mind, but I just, I, I wanna. Kind of caution people from picking a, a topic for a digital product that they just maybe think will make money.

[00:20:13] Like, I don’t think, think, oh yeah, that’s great idea. Yeah. Don’t, don’t go about it that way. Like find something that, yeah, you’re an expert at, that you love talking about. Like, this is going to come across in the product and it’ll be easier for you to create in the process. So.

[00:20:28] Alastair: Yeah. I, I think that, it being something that’s kind of like a highly profitable niche, I think that that’s far less important than your passion.

[00:20:34] And I also think that, that the passion is more important than your expertise because the expertise will come if you have passion about something true, but the, um, the passion, you’ll, I, I think that you’ll find it hard, harder to develop passion for something than expertise.

[00:20:50] Rene: Mm-hmm. Yes. Yeah, I totally agree.

[00:20:53] So you have, you’ll have the book soon. Mm-hmm. And I know you have some other kind of products on your ladder. Like do you, is there, will there be a nudge, another digital product coming in there somewhere on the ladder? Or you just focus now on, um, you know, your group coaching, um, individual, like what, what does your kind of business model look like now?

[00:21:14] Alastair: Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting. I will have some, uh, like downloadables and stuff that will go with the book. Mm-hmm. Um, one thing that I learned from. Is it Nathan Barry, uh, of Convert Kit? Yeah. Nathan Barry. Um, from Convert Kit. He wrote a book, uh, actually about authority,

[00:21:32] It was called Authority. Um, and he did it in such a way that he had three packages where he had the, uh, the book itself as an ebook. Um, and then he had the book plus a print version plus some training videos as the second option. Mm-hmm. And then he had a third option, which included some one-to-one coaching as well.

[00:21:55] Ooh. And I really love that idea, so. Mm-hmm. So I’m gonna do something like that where it is gonna be three [00:22:00] options for the book. And I think that always, um, is a nice way to, because, um, if you, if you read, um, If you read Blair End’s book about pricing, um, Blair Enn’s from Win Without Pitching.

[00:22:11] And his, his book, uh, Pricing Creativity, uh, which I bought for a hundred dollars, um, and it was well worth that a hundred dollars, but Nice. He’s doing exactly the same thing. He’s pricing his book, uh, at, you know, with, with value pricing, which is what he talks about in the book. Mm-hmm. Uh, but again, he

[00:22:28] does that three package thing where you can get the e-book on its own. You get the e-book and the printed book mm-hmm and then you get, get some kind of, um, other, uh, kind of assets I guess to go with that as well. And so, uh, so they are digital products, so yeah. Mm-hmm.

[00:22:43] Rene: And some people even like that idea. Say that the, um, that the book, even though you’re charging for it, and it is a digital product, really is like a lead magnet.

[00:22:52] It’s not even really about the money you make from that. It’s, it that’s just the lead in to be able to do these other things in a way where people can warm up to you. Um, you know, they, and they put a little bit more, I don’t know, skin in the game, you know, other than just consuming your free content. So they’re, you know, they’re, you know, buying

[00:23:11] that you know, maybe $20 ebook or, you know, a, a variation of that package. And then, you know, really getting to know, like, and trust you and then wanting to work with you, um, you know, in other ways, uh, depending on whether the products you have in your ladder, including you.

[00:23:27] Alastair: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Um, I, I think that most business books, um, it depends on, I, it, it depends on what stage of your career you’re at.

[00:23:36] Um, you know, when Alan Weiss releases a new book, he might be making significant amounts of money from that. Uh, the same for somebody like Mark Schaffer. They both have written a lot of books. They’re probably making a lot of money from their mm-hmm, their book sales. Um, but for people who are early on in their career, I think that your book is more of a lead, lead magnet, lead generation.

[00:23:53] Mm-hmm. And, um, and so the amount of money that you’re gonna make, like if I’m making $5 off a sale of a book, [00:24:00] I’m gonna need to sell a lot of those books. Yes. Uh, you know, to make, to make a lot of money. So I, I, I can’t see myself selling, for example, uh, 20,000 copies that would, that would be like top of the New York Times bestseller, uh, non-fiction, you know, something like that.

[00:24:14] Yes. Mm-hmm, um, I can’t see that happening. Uh, but I could see myself selling maybe 500 copies a year. Mm-hmm a thousand copies a year, and I could see maybe 1% of those people contacting me mm-hmm and wanting to work with me in some way. Mm-hmm and suddenly that becomes very interesting, even when the numbers are much.

[00:24:34] Rene: Yes, exactly. So the, the product, the digital product or, or whatever it is, isn’t the, the end, it’s, it’s the beginning of the opening. Like, and I don’t know if you know mm-hmm, um, Donald Miller from StoryBrand. It’s kind of the same thing. Like he has the book, well, actually he has a free email, uh, video, three day, whatever.

[00:24:52] Then the, the book, which is 10 or $20, then some video courses and then, you know, in, in person, whatever it is, you know, so, hi. His ladder includes that in there somewhere, um, you know, that is again, getting people to, and it is a funnel, right? So people, yeah. Kind of, not everybody goes down the funnel, but you know, you, you’re, you’re one person and you have a team.

[00:25:15] You don’t need to help every single person in the whole entire world. Like how many clients, you know, do you need? That would make a difference. Mm-hmm for you. You know, you one me, anybody.

[00:25:25] Alastair: I dunno. Yeah. The other thing about a book that’s interesting is there’s the value of the book, which has nothing to do with the clients that you get from it, um, or the sales that you make.

[00:25:35] Mm-hmm is the value in just being the author of the book on a topic. Mm-hmm, because you, you have the phrase, he wrote the book in it. She wrote the book on it. Like for sure. It’s literally what we, how we describe an expert, you know? Mm-hmm, uh, and so having a book, uh, on a topic, it instantly gives you credibility there.

[00:25:52] So I, I think that’s valuable as well and, um, that’s where you can get a bit more strategic. Now, I was not very strategic with, [00:26:00] with the planning for this book. Um, I had a, a, a happenstance call with, with an editor. Mm-hmm. Um, she already had a series. The title, the title of the series was very fixed. Um, So I, I had to just plug some something into that and see would this work?

[00:26:18] And I picked something that I, I think I, like, I genuinely believe in podcasting. I think it’s, it’s a great way to build authority. That’s why we’re talking. Both of us are here. Yes, um, and you can build authority and credibility and, and create content so quickly. So I, I really do believe in that. And. But it wasn’t a very strategic decision in, in creating this, it was, it was more kind of serendipity.

[00:26:41] Mm-hmm. But that, you know, that’s life.

[00:26:42] Rene: And this, they don’t all have to be like, they don’t all have to be strategic decisions. Right. You just said the planning was the boring part.

[00:26:48] Alastair: So this, this is true. Now, one thing that I did that was the opposite of that is the specialization podcast. Mm-hmm. So when I created that, I specifically created that because I wanted to create something like a book, uh, very quickly that would associate me with, um, and build my credibility in the world of specialization and nicheing down.

[00:27:13] Mm-hmm. And so I created the specialization podcast as an audio training course effectively. Um, cuz I, I really like the idea of creating these evergreen podcasts. Mm-hmm that you can create on a topic and just leave it out there as a lead generator for you forever. Right. And I saw Seth Goden do this with a podcast called Startup School.

[00:27:34] Uh, he created it back end of 2010, started 2011. It was a workshop actually that he ran, um, and he ran it over the weekend and he recorded the audio and he put up the audio as this podcast. And it’s been there for over 10 years since just generating leads and selling his books. Mm-hmm. And it’s just there.

[00:27:53] People can come along and listen to it and a lot of people will find it useful. Mm-hmm, maybe It would’ve been really useful if I’d listened to that before doing Self Assembly Sites? [00:28:00] Well, we live and learn. It’s, it’s out there, um, generating leads all the time. Mm-hmm and he, Seth Goden doesn’t need any more credibility, but, you know, it is something that, that, that builds credibility and reaches the new audiences.

[00:28:13] Mm-hmm. So I really like that kind of Evergreen podcast as well. I think it’s really cool.

[00:28:17] Rene: Yeah, definitely. Well, anything, I, I just think that like, if you’re going to sell anything, whether it’s your services or digital products or something, you have to have a way for people to get to know you and these types of things, you know, blog posts and, and videos, uh, podcasts, any of this stuff is just a way for people to get to know you.

[00:28:35] And if it’s, you know, specialized enough, you know, and people are really interested in that topic, you then draw the right people to you. So it’s kind of, you know, all that synergy happening.

[00:28:47] Alastair: Yeah, I think it’s, it, it’s, it’s really great as, um, I, I mean, I’m really interested in podcasts because there’s the audio only aspect.

[00:28:57] Mm-hmm and somehow audio only seems to generate more trust in the mind of the listener than audio and video. Now I think we, we talked about this a little bit, um, right on Slack, it, it’s really interesting because video has more signal and more things that you can make judgments with. Right.

[00:29:15] Rene: But it’s, but, but it’s in your ear.

[00:29:17] I think I learned this from Alli in the group because you’re, the person is literally in your ear. They’re in your head. So yeah. I think, well, that’s, I that made a lot of sense to me.

[00:29:28] Alastair: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s. It’s, it’s strange, but I think both, both aspects of it work. And that’s why I recommend people do video as well, because it gives you lots of video content to put up on social media.

[00:29:39] Mm-hmm. And what are social media promoting a lot of right now is, well, it’s video content. Mm-hmm, you look at the Instagram, TikTok Wars. Yes. And it’s all about video, you know? Mm-hmm.

[00:29:48] Rene: And even YouTube shorts. So there’s shorts on YouTube. Now, I didn’t know if, if we had talked about that, but, um, and you can actually take some of your video and slice it into a short, you know, normally like with like Instagram or things like that, you know, you just record it and [00:30:00] post it.

[00:30:00] But if you have an existing video, you can slice it and, and short it. I haven’t tried it yet and I’m not sure what the return is, but, you know, with a lot of these things and, and really like all the, all the decisions you’re making, it’s a trial and error. You, you make some educated guesses on what may work for you.

[00:30:16] Give it a try, see how it works, and then adjust, you know, course correct and adjust from there. Like, oh, this is great, I’m gonna double down. I think you found that success on LinkedIn. You know, you, you know, maybe where you haven’t on other platforms, so you know, you, okay, this is where my people are, this is where my audience is, this is the kind of content that they like, you know, this is the content I like creating, you know, and so here I am.

[00:30:39] Alastair: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. I, I think it’s, I think it’s super, yeah.

[00:30:43] Rene: So any last things, any last thoughts about digital products specifically, or any, any advice I guess for someone who is creating their very first digital product? I, it’s, it’s a lot of the, like, don’t make the same mistakes I made sort of thing.

[00:30:56] Yeah. But, um, you know, any thoughts? I guess ?

[00:30:59] Alastair: Yeah. I mean, I, I. Validating the market is so important. Mm-hmm, um.

[00:31:04] Rene: Beyond just one person. Like cuz Oh yeah. You said Al really liked it.

[00:31:07] Alastair: Yeah. Um, and, and like your mom is gonna tell you that you’re great. Yeah. And that’s her job. Or maybe it’s the opposite. Sometimes family are the most critical.

[00:31:16] This is true. This is true. Your family may not just understand. Your family are probably really bad judges of whether your product’s gonna sell or not. Yeah, yeah.

[00:31:23] Rene: Well they probably just don’t even get it. Yeah. So, yeah, stay away from family.

[00:31:26] Alastair: So like your best friend is not, probably not a good judge either, because they’re just like rooting for you.

[00:31:31] Rene: So Yes. Yeah. They’re like, yeah, great.

[00:31:33] Alastair: Go, go and find strangers and get like people who don’t know you and aren’t in inherently rooting for you. Mm-hmm. and, and get their honest feedback. Mm-hmm. But I think the best feedback comes when you ask somebody to put their hand in their wallet and give you money.

[00:31:46] Mm-hmm like that because people will tell you, oh yeah, that’s great. I would definitely buy that. And then you say, oh, I’ve, I’ve got one in, in the trunk of the car. Mm-hmm. Oh, okay. Well, maybe not today. Right. You know, I’ve got a, you know, all these excuses. It’s like [00:32:00] when people actually buy the product, then you know, that it’s, it’s a, it’s a product that’s worth, you know, it’s

[00:32:04] worth something.

[00:32:05] Rene: And pre-selling is a good way to do that too. Um, a great way to validate like, Hey, I’m gonna have this thing for sale. Like, don’t create. Pre-sell it, see how it does, you know? Yeah. Just to generate that interest. So like that, that’s just an option and there’s many, many ways that you can do this, but you know that that is an option as well.

[00:32:22] Alastair: Yeah. And, and what some people will do as well is they’ll go the affiliate marketing route and they won’t make the product. They’ll sell other people’s products. Mm-hmm. And then if a product is selling really well, they’ll make their own version and sell that instead. Mm-hmm. interesting. Um, that’s a really smart way to do things as well.

[00:32:35] Mm-hmm. Interesting. Yeah. So there’s, there’s, there’s, I mean, that’s the cool thing about business. There’s so many different approaches you can take.

[00:32:40] Rene: Yes. Yeah. And what works for you may not work for someone else, and. Just, but I think kind of trying things out like we talked about, but also like hearing other people’s stories like what they did or didn’t do.

[00:32:53] Some things you may just not even, like not even consider until you hear somebody else say, oh, I did this. And you’re like, oh my God, that’s brilliant. I wanna try that too. So, I don’t know,

[00:33:02] Alastair: Is one is really important. That relates back again to the podcast, which I didn’t mention, which is we started off with zero audience and things are a lot easier in life when you have an audience or a network, followers, people who are in your social media. Um, so I would say, you know, build, uh, build a network on LinkedIn and social media. Mm-hmm, um, and uh, build an email list. Email list, yes. And create something that gets, that gathers an audience around you like a podcast.

[00:33:33] Because, um, then you have people who you can go to and you can say, Hey, if I was gonna sell something, would, would you be interested? Mm-hmm, does this sound like an interesting topic?

[00:33:43] Rene: Yeah. Or what would you, what do you wanna buy? Like this or this problem? Yeah. Yeah. You can go to them directly. I think it’s intimidating for, you know, for people to hear, like build an audience, but you know, I think if you, it’s kind of the same thing as like define your customer avatar. Like you look at those things sometimes you’re like, Ugh, I just don’t [00:34:00] even know. But you know, I think that, you know, once you get into it, like it really is important and valuable to, to be able to proceed, you know, well, which is really what we wanna do.

[00:34:12] Alastair: I don’t wanna take this down a huge rabbit hole, but like, one of the reasons why I’m writing a book about podcasting is I think that you can build an audience quite relatively quickly. Mm-hmm. Um, and like what you’re doing is you’re creating this body of work that people will discover and then kind of become part of your ecosystem.

[00:34:27] Or they kind of come into your orbit. Mm-hmm. And I think it’s really important to have lots of that content out there. This body of work and podcasting or creating videos or starting YouTube channels is a very quick way to do that compared to, for example, writing a series of books or something like that.

[00:34:45] Right. Um, and, everybody who has a huge list started at zero, just like everybody else. Mm-hmm. And the only thing is you have to actually start at some point. Mm-hmm, if you don’t start, you know, it’s, I like, I, I don’t know personally if you can buy a list, you can buy an audience. I don’t think you can. I think it’s probably, you can borrow, there might be some people who can do that.

[00:35:07] It, you can borrow and mm-hmm, but to, to borrow, what you need to do is you need to already have something in place mm-hmm so you can kind of trade, you can true, you can True. And then you can, you can guest on somebody else’s podcast, for example mm-hmm and have them come back on yours, which is something I’ve done quite a few times.

[00:35:22] Um, that’s, that’s a good approach. But I think that you do have to seriously think about building an audience if you wanna make this work. And particularly for stuff like selling products online. Mm-hmm.

[00:35:33] Rene: You, you have to somebody to sell to .

[00:35:34] Alastair: You have to. Yeah. That’s like, that’s the point. Yes. It’s, it’s fairly simple, really, you know?

[00:35:38] Yeah. Yeah. Um, but it’s a bit like going to the gym. Um mm-hmm. It, you know, you, you don’t get results in week one or week five. Mm-hmm, or week 10 sometimes. Mm-hmm, you know, you go to the gym every, every week, once a week or twice a week for three months, you’re gonna be in a different place. Mm-hmm. And you do it for six months or nine months, every a year.

[00:35:59] Your body, you’re [00:36:00] gonna be totally different. Mm-hmm. You’re gonna be mm-hmm, um, it’s gonna be life changing. Mm-hmm, and that’s kind of what b building an audience is like, and, and it does take time and mm-hmm, I, I , I hate that it does take time and, and there’s nothing, there’s no, like, unless you got a lot of money and you can like, pour huge amounts of money into, but most people don’t, don’t have like mm-hmm.

[00:36:18] I think a lot of people who I work with, uh, they’re not large corporations with huge budgets for that kind of stuff. Mm-hmm. So. So yeah, you, you’ve got to invest something either time or money. And if you don’t have a huge amount of money, then you probably have to invest time. Mm-hmm, and that’s what we’re talking.

[00:36:31] Rene: But that organic growth to me feels really good. It’s like going to the gym, like, you know, you start to see those gains. Mm-hmm, but not just like, oh, look, you can see my muscles now, but like, I feel better. Yeah. My pants fit better. Like I sleep better. Like, you can see all of that in the process. And I don’t know, that’s the part that I like this, you know, I, I talk a lot about like the journey, like mm-hmm.

[00:36:51] It’s not just like I’m trying to get to sell the product. Like I wanna, the, the things that are happening along the way, the conversations I’m happening or that I’m having, and what I’m learning and what I’m sharing and like, that’s the good part, you know, in my mind. And then, you know, the benefits come from that, from doing that, from showing up.

[00:37:11] Alastair: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And, and like I see the, the monthly downloads of the podcast, they, it, they’re, they’re on a slow incline. Mm-hmm, um, uh, it’s, it’s always slowly going up. Mm-hmm. and, you know, it’s like, there’s not millions of people listening to it, but there are thousands now. Mm-hmm. That’s, which is awesome.

[00:37:30] Rene: Yeah. Yeah. And it took a while, but you don’t want, so maybe you do, but I don’t think that you want thousands of people listening to your very first, you know, stuff like, yeah. You know, just because you haven’t evolved yet, you know, to the, the, you know, to what you will become like you as you grow and the audience grows.

[00:37:50] Like, I think that’s like a, a better approach to it. You know, having like a million people watch my terrible first video. Like, yikes.

[00:37:58] Alastair: Yeah. The, the quality of your [00:38:00] work, uh, and the content that you create definitely improves over time. Mm-hmm and, uh, you know, I’m on, um, I, I think if you add all the podcasts, the three podcasts together, I think I’m.

[00:38:13] Uh, episode 140. Wow. Or so. That’s a lot. So that, that’s gonna be very different. Mm-hmm. So, like I’m talking to you, I’m, I’m quite relaxed. Mm-hmm. And, um, but 140 episodes ago, I would, I would not have been.

[00:38:25] Rene: Yes, yes, yes. And it also took you a while to, to get. To start, like, and I, and you talk about this sometimes too, I, we should probably wrap up soon, but just like you have to start, you have to do the thing so that you can get better at doing the thing.

[00:38:39] Yeah. It’s like all the preparation that we do about going to the gym, like, I need new shoes and this thing, and I need this new water bottle and all this whatever nonsense. You don’t need any of that stuff. You need to go and start and do the thing. Mm-hmm. and keep showing up that consistency. So that’s when you’re gonna see those, you know, I like talk about like the exponential curve, like, you know, that’s where you’re going to see the results.

[00:38:59] Alastair: Yeah. And, and so I, I’m not at the point where I’ve seen any kind of exponential growth. Um, I’m still in a very slow linear growth phase. I have been told that there comes a tipping point where that happens. Yes, yes. I don’t know exactly when that will happen.

[00:39:14] Rene: But that’s math, like it’s a universal thing.

[00:39:17] Like that’s like the, the compounding curve is like built into the universe, so mm-hmm, like, you just, like it will come like just, you’re just showing up.

[00:39:25] Alastair: I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing.

[00:39:26] Rene: Yes. Yes. Exactly.

[00:39:27] Alastair: And that’s, that’s my approach to it. Yes. Yeah. And like, if you are consistent and you just keep doing, like, I’m gonna take a break at the end of season one, uh, which is that episode of hundred,

[00:39:38] Rene: I was gonna say.

[00:39:38] Yeah, this is the longest season ever. Cool.

[00:39:42] Alastair: Well, I was talking to somebody about this, um, and uh, actually I think I put it in the book, uh, there’s two, uh, TV shows about detectives, um, solving murders. One is, um, Sherlock Holmes. Mm-hmm, and I think there was four episodes in the season from BBC. Mm-hmm. And [00:40:00] then if you flip that and you go to like CSI Miami or whatever.

[00:40:03] Rene: Yeah. Or Law and Order.

[00:40:03] Alastair: They, they, my God, have 27 episodes in a season or something. Yes. Yes. And they’re both TV shows about detective solving murders. Mm-hmm. And it’s just two completely different approaches to, to how the season goes. That’s the other cool thing about business or podcasts. It’s like, It’s your show, you decide.

[00:40:17] Rene: Yes. You know? Yes, yes. Yeah. I love that. I love that. Well, thank you so much for being on. I’m so excited to finally do this and talk with you about this. So I really appreciate it and I hope you have a great day.

[00:40:30] Alastair: Thank you Rene.

[00:40:31] Rene: Thanks.

[00:40:32] 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.