Episode 10

Reflecting on my first “failed” digital product

In this episode, I share all the details of my first digital product, a mini-course on asking for and using testimonials in your service business. I use my basic, 4-step reflection process including what happened, what didn’t go well, what did go well and what I can try next time.

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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] In the fall of 2021, I decided to create my first digital product. At the time, I had been building and maintaining websites for small businesses for about five years. Many of my clients and peers, all in the service space weren’t asking for reviews and testimonials, so they didn’t have that social proof to showcase on their website.

[00:00:48] Or share on social media. And as a note, social proof lets potential clients get to know, like, and trust you, which can lead to more business. As part of my standard process, I would ask for a review after I launched a client website. I used a simple form to collect the review and would then add it to a new portfolio piece, my dedicated testimonials page, and I would also share them on social media.

[00:01:13] The process was quick and easy, so I thought I would create a course on how other service providers could do the same. The 20 minute testimonial process ended up being a mini-course with one 12 page workbook and two short videos, 13 and five minutes each. Looking back, the product took about two months to create and launch.

[00:01:33] I actually did a modified 12 Week year during the fourth quarter of 2021. Basically just a list of tasks to get everything completed and launched. So here’s what happened. I sold the product on my website. I updated a few older blog posts to point to the product where relevant. I also shared it on social media, on my very small email list and with my existing clients.

[00:01:56] Two people tested the product for me. I gave them a [00:02:00] 90% off coupon and they paid $3.90 each again just to make sure the process was working properly. I gave the product away to one of my clients for free. Five people bought it most on sale at $59. One for the full price of $79.

[00:02:16] And one for the full price, but I refunded her 20 because I put it on sale after I launched. Not everyone watched the videos and I didn’t get any feedback on the product, so I don’t know what people thought of it.

[00:02:27] Let’s talk about what didn’t go well. I didn’t ask for feedback before creating the product. Yes, I thought it was a good idea, and yes, I am a service provider, but I didn’t put it in front of anyone else. I didn’t ask for thoughts from potential customers or even peers asking questions before creating the product, such as, are you interested in this?

[00:02:49] Would this be valuable to you? Might have saved me a ton of time.

[00:02:54] I don’t think I was solving an important problem.

[00:02:56] It wasn’t something that people were searching for an answer to. People know they should ask for testimonials, but their businesses may be fine without them. People who are already asking for them didn’t need the course. I did zero marketing. It’s one of those things that I would tell my website clients.

[00:03:13] It’s not a build it and they will come situation. You have to market. Yes, I showcased it on my website and went back and updated some of my blog posts to point to the course, but I don’t think anyone was actually reading those blog posts. The page itself didn’t get a ton of views. I didn’t have any lead magnets or content where I captured their email and tried to nurture them to buy.

[00:03:36] I didn’t share about the course in any groups, at any conferences, or on any podcasts. After the initial launch where I shared it on social media, I didn’t do any additional social media posts.

[00:03:48] I mostly used what software I had, but I spent more than I made. I used Google Docs for the workbook and exported as a PDF. I used Loom, which I already had to record the videos and [00:04:00] uploaded those as unlisted on YouTube. I created two pages on my website, the sales page, and the thank you page. I used WP SimplePay, which I already had to collect the payment via Stripe.

[00:04:11] I used the free version of MailerLite to create the automated email sequence and send my email newsletters. I used Publer, which I already had to schedule some of the social media posts. The three purchases I made were a paid Zapier plan for $239.88 yearly to connect Stripe to MailerLite to send the post-purchase emails.

[00:04:34] Voiceform on AppSumo for $62.10 one time to demo one of the tools for collecting voice testimonials and Unison on AppSumo for $71.10 one time to share the YouTube videos on my website without the YouTube branding. I had $322.80 in sales, minus $12.62 in fees for a total of $310.18 minus the products I purchased, and I lost $62.90 on the product overall.

[00:05:07] I also didn’t look at it periodically once I saw that a plugin update had broken the payment forms. Another time I noticed that the YouTube videos weren’t working properly because Unison went out of business. In short, mistakes were made.

[00:05:22] But a few things did go well. I tried something new, I did it, and I learned a lot. I kept to a timeline and a plan that I had set for myself. I really enjoyed the process. I created something that I was passionate about and was proud of the result. It was one of the steps on my journey to this point, wanting to not only help other people create their first digital product, but to learn myself what it really takes to create a successful product.

[00:05:51] I did have an email sequence that kicked off once a customer made a purchase.

[00:05:56] On the sales page, and in one of the emails I gave a process for [00:06:00] completing the course in three one hour blocks. I felt that this was really valuable because often people buy a course but don’t know how long it’s going to take or how long to set aside to complete it. I was very clear that the process was a 20 minute process to ask for, receive and implement testimonials, and a three hour commitment to complete the course and implement in your existing systems.

[00:06:23] Another thing that went well was that I shut it down. I pulled all the pages down, sent the customers an email with how they can still get to the resources just differently than they did before. Created redirects, removed all the references on my site turned off the Zaps in the email automation. I didn’t just let it linger out there, maybe broken.

[00:06:43] I love a good cleanup, but also it feels good to not have it mentally hanging over my head. That chapter is closed. And I reflected this episode is a reflection on what happened, what didn’t go well, and what did go well. Doing this lets me figure out what to try next time. So what could I try next time? A few things.

[00:07:05] Asking for feedback and validation before creating a product. Making sure I am solving an important problem for the customer, creating an ongoing marketing plan. Creating some kind of lead capture, nurturing sequence and maybe testing the product on a third party platform like LemonSqueezy. By all accounts, my first digital product wasn’t successful in a sales sense, but I’m glad I did it and I learned a lot.

[00:07:33] What about you? Have you created a product that didn’t sell as well as you would’ve liked? Try these four simple reflection questions. What happened? What didn’t go well? What did go well, and what can you try next time? I’d love to hear your results. Send me a voice message at yfdp.show/share. Thanks for listening.

[00:07:52] Hey, thanks for listening. I’d love to continue the conversation in your inbox. Email SUBSCRIBE to hey at [00:08:00] 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.