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How to Launch a New Product Successfully

Today’s episode is about how we reached six figures launching a new product. We share what worked and didn’t work, and some of our takeaway learnings for future launches.

my money by Bambang Subekti on

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). Today we talk about:

  • How partnering with other people can help you launch your product successfully
  • How to identify a potential partner for a product launch
  • How long it takes us to produce our new products
  • How we spread the news about our product launch
  • Where the majority of our product sales come from
  • What we have planned to keep the product selling well into the future

Further Reading and Resources for Launching a New Product Successfully

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there and welcome to the ProBlogger Podcast episode 42. My name is Darren Rowse. Today, I want to talk to you about our latest product launch on Digital Photography School. It was a new product for us. I want to talk a little bit about how we came up with the idea, how we marketed it, how we developed the product, how we launched it, and also how it actually went. You can find today’s show notes where I will link to the product and give you some further reading at

Today, I want to talk about a product that we launched four weeks ago on Digital Photography School, which is my main blog. This particular product was a new one for us. It’s actually a Lightroom presets pack. For those of you who aren’t familiar with presets, Lightroom is a post-production tool for photographers to manipulate their images and to get their images looking great. They have the ability to use presets within that, which—the way I describe it to people—is like on Instagram where you manipulate a photo with a click. You just say, “Here’s a filter that I want to put onto this particular photo.”

In some ways, it’s similar. A preset enables you to say, “I want to treat this photo in this particular way.” It takes a whole process of manipulations to an image and puts them into a single click. You take the whole heap of things that have adjustments and then you can click a link or a button and it will change your photo. This is a tool that’s been built into Lightroom. You can actually develop your own presets, but you also can download other people’s and install them into Lightroom.

We developed this presets pack as 101 presets that enable you to change photos in 101 different ways. We developed them and bundled them together into different areas. There’s presets for landscape photos, there’s presets for portraits and different types of presets. The idea for this pack came really out of some affiliate promotions that we had previously done. This is actually something I would really encourage you to think about no matter what kind of product you are thinking about developing for your blog.

One of the best things that you can do before you develop a product is to test it by promoting someone else’s product. This might sound a little strange but you will learn so much by doing an affiliate promotion of someone else. This is something I’ve done time and time again. Before I developed my first ebook, I promoted someone else’s ebook. Before I developed my first course, I promoted someone else’s course.

There’s a number of things you’re going to learn by promoting someone else’s product first as an affiliate. For those of you who don’t know what an affiliate is, basically, an affiliate program is where you recommend someone else’s product and you earn a commission if someone goes on to buy that product. Usually, you are given a link that has a tracking code in it. The person whose product you’re promoting knows that you referred that sale and then you might earn the commission. It might be 30%, it might be 40%, or it might be 50%. 

Over the last year, we have promoted a number of other people’s Lightroom presets in promotions that we’ve done on Digital Photography School. The beauty of promoting someone else’s product, no matter what that product is, is that you’re getting to test a number of things.

Firstly, you’re getting to test that product type. I knew years ago that ebooks were going to sell with my audience because I had already promoted other people’s ebooks as an affiliate and I’d seen decent results. The same was true when we started developing our first course. We tested that first by promoting other people’s courses. We knew that courses sold with our readers.

The same thing is true with the presets. We actually had presets in the last two years of our 12 Days of Christmas sale that we run on Digital Photography School. Our 12 Days of Christmas sale is actually where we promote 12 different products in the lead up to Christmas to our readers. Some of those products are our own products, so our own ebooks and courses, but we also allow affiliates on those deals as well. We noticed that presets were selling quite well with our audience. In fact last year, it was our number two product. This told us that presets work.

When you’re promoting other people’s products, you also get to refine what kind of products are working so the topic perhaps of the ebook that you’re selling. You also get to test pricing. You can promote different products or different prices and see what price point your audience will respond to. You also get to see how different products work in terms of their marketing. When you are promoting a product as an affiliate, you’re generally sending someone through a different kind of landing page. You can learn what kind of landing pages work for those kinds of products. You also get your audience used to that kind of product as well without having to invest anything in it.

When we first promoted presets to our audience—and people responded reasonably well—that has grown as we’ve promoted them again and again, and our audience has begun to get warmer to this idea. This is probably the biggest take-home of this podcast for me is that if you are thinking about developing a product, find someone else who’s already developed a similar product—it may not be exactly the same—and promote it as an affiliate. You’re going to learn so much, but you also, hopefully, get some income out of that, which will get you through while you’re developing your own product.

The key is not to just completely copy what someone else has done. You don’t want to just take their product and then release it as your own. You need to find your own spin on the product and your own branding to it, but you will learn a whole heap through testing it as an affiliate.

That’s where we got our idea from. We’d actually had promoted a number of different Lightroom presets packs and bundles and products over the last couple of years. We’ve seen that they have been quite popular on other sites as well. Then we decided we wanted to create our own bundle. 

Generally what we do when we are wanting to put together a product is that we look for someone else to partner with. In fact, all of our ebooks on Digital Photography School except for the first one that I ever did, have been partnered-type products. Our ebooks are all offered by experts in different fields of photography. Our portrait ebooks are all authored by Gina Milicia, who’s a fantastic portrait photographer. All our landscape photography ebooks are by a guy called Todd Sisson from New Zealand, who’s a great landscape photographer. We look for people who know what they’re doing in particular areas. We then work with them to develop a product.

Typically, we work out what kind of product we want and then go hunting for the right person for it. We rarely do it the other way around. We don’t generally find a great person and then work out what the product is. That was certainly the case in this presets pack as well. We decided we wanted a preset bundle. We talked a lot about what we wanted that to look like, so we knew we wanted a big bundle. We’d promoted small bundles of like 10 presets in the past and they hadn’t sold very well, but we’d sold bigger bundles in the past and they had worked really well. We knew the price point that we wanted to go with. We’d done a lot of the work, but we had no idea who we were going to partner with until I listened to a podcast one day with Pat Flynn. He was interviewing a guy called Cole and he had a site called Cole’s Classroom.

That podcast introduced me to Cole. It turns out that we’d actually done a little bit of work with him in the past on one of my other sites. A little site called SnapnDeals. We’d promoted one of his products in the past, but this podcast with Pat Flynn showed me that Cole got Internet marketing and that he’d already created some presets that had worked well on his site. I shot him an email and that began a conversation around working with him in some way. I liked his style, I like that he had the experience, that he had the expertise, and that he seems to be open to collaboration as well.

Typically, our products take three to six months to produce. That’s largely thinking about our ebooks and courses. This one took a little less because there was a little less production needed. Usually, when we’re doing an ebook, the author goes away and writes it. We sometimes help them by providing them with an editor. It then goes to our production team, then it goes to a designer, then it has to get proofread, and then it goes through our marketing team. There are quite a few steps.

In this particular case, it wasn’t quite as long because Cole was able to produce the presets. Then we didn’t need to edit and we didn’t need to really do a whole heap of design because, essentially, it’s software that we’re selling, it’s a plugin for Lightroom. There wasn’t a need for some of that type of stuff. It probably took about three or four months from the idea to when the product was created.

Then we decided it was ready to launch. We’d identified a time that it would launch right at the beginning. We usually plan our calendar of products that we launch on Digital Photography School. Usually, at the start of the year or 12 months in advance, we’re always thinking about what we are launching eight or nine months from now, sometimes even further ahead because it does take us a while to produce our product. We knew that this product would come out early or late July-early August. It fit into our calendar, so we were always working towards that.

As the product was nearing completion, we began to switch into marketing mode. We have a bit of a marketing system in place in terms of how we market our ebooks and courses. This was a bit different because it was a new type of product for us, so we had to educate our audience a little bit as part of our marketing, but we usually go with a fairly similar approach. This actually followed the same pattern in many ways, apart from some of that sort of educational messaging that we had to also do in our marketing.

It was presented as 101 presets. We decided to launch with a discount. Its normal price will be $50 so there are 50 ­­­cents per preset in our minds, but we launched it with a 60% off offer. It was $20 as an intro offer. We decided to make it $20 for the first four weeks. That usually works quite well for us to discount and to do an early-bird offer. At the end of the year, we do tend to discount our products even further than that, but as a launch, we don’t tend to go right to the bottom. We tend to try and find some middle ground so 50%-60% off is a good zone.

We also did a competition as part of this launch. This is something you need to check the laws in your local area as to what you can do in terms of competitions. We offered a $1000 prize for one person who bought the product, but we didn’t announce that competition right up front. We brought that competition in week two. We usually wait to see how a product is being received before we decide whether to go with the competition. The key benefits that we were using in our marketing: this is a time-saving product, it helps you to create great images quickly, and it’s easy to use. The idea of great shots in a click was one of the featured messages through this campaign.

We’ve learned with our audience that our marketing works best in email. Email is our number one strategy for launching products. We usually go with either a three-, four-, or five-week email campaign. Our list gets three, four, or five emails depending on how the campaign’s going and depending on how much time we’ve got to launch a product. In this case, we sent four emails over four weeks. Every Tuesday night, Australian time, we sent an email during this launch.

The first email was sent four weeks ago. The focus of that one was really to announce the product, to do a little bit of education about what the products could do, and how you could use it. We had to emphasize that it was a product that could only be used if you already use Lightroom. There was a bit of educational, sort of the frequently asked questions or at least the anticipated frequently asked questions we tried to answer in that first email. The whole point of the email is to try and get people to our sales page.

The second email, a week later, it was when we launched the competition. Again, we were still talking about the product, but we introduced the idea of the competition so we built some incentives into that.

The third email was our one week to go email, but it also had a testimonial in it. By this stage, we almost always are getting feedback from our readers about how they like the product, how they’re using the product, so we were able to build in a testimonial into that third email. We find that social proof usually works quite well. The testimonial we used, in this case, was actually a comment that was submitted on the blog about the product.

Then, the last email (which went out as I’m recording this) was last Tuesday night two days ago and was a “48 hours to go” email. This is where we say, “The competition will end. The price will go up. It’s your last opportunity to get it.” We try not to hype it up or anything. It’s usually a very short email, a polite email. It’s just for your information, this is the last chance to get in on this.

Typically, we find the first and last emails get the biggest sales. In this case, they all performed quite well. We’re really pleased with the way the campaign ran. We usually go into the campaign thinking that it’ll be a four-week launch, but if a launch isn’t going particularly well, sometimes we do shorten that to a three-week launch or sometimes we keep it at four weeks but don’t send the third email. We give our readers a bit of a break.

We don’t want to—this is a horrible expression—flog a dead horse. We don’t want to keep promoting something that’s not working because we know every time we email our readers, there’s fatigue associated with that. The more we email, the less responsive they’ll be in the future. We will hold back on the emailing too much if things aren’t quite working. We always keep an option open to go to a five-week launch as well.

On this occasion, we probably would have gone with a five-week launch if we didn’t have other campaigns that needed to come next. We’ve already got our next product locked in in terms of dates, so we want to have a gap between this product launch and that product launch.

Email is definitely where most of our sales come from. We actually did the stats a year or so ago and we found over 95% of our sales come from our emails, which is pretty remarkable because we are also promoting it in other ways. I don’t think it’s because we’re promoting it badly in the other places. It’s just email converts really well. In this case, we were also promoting it elsewhere.

We promoted it on the blog itself on Digital Photography School, we’d written a blog post to launch the product, and that became a featured post on the site. There was a big image on the front page of the site that sat there for most of the four weeks as the number one post on the site. It’s also promoted in a hello bar. At the top of the screen, there’s a message that comes across. In our sidebar, there’s a button, and throughout the site as well as on a number of posts that talked about sets that are getting Google traffic.

We also had Cole, who was the producer of the product, wrote a guest post. We almost always have guest posts from the creators of our products to showcase what they can do and what the product entails as well. The posts are almost always how-to posts. They’re not sales posts, but they fairly prominently have a call-to-action to the product as well.

We also promote it on Facebook. Over the four weeks, there were five Facebook updates that went out. Facebook does tend to throttle anything that has any kind of promotional aspect to it. You have to be a little bit vague sometimes in the posts that you do on Facebook. I also did some boosting of those posts and ran a few ads particularly targeting people who’d been on the landing page of it. You’re able to insert a pixel onto your landing page of the product, the sales page of the product. I was able to target ads to anyone who’d been on that page previously.

I did a whole heap of tweets. At the start of this four-week campaign, I scheduled at least a couple of tweets every day for the whole four weeks that went out on our Twitter account at different times of the day so different people around the world would see them at different times. 

We also promoted it in our newsletter. We do a weekly newsletter every Friday. In that newsletter, we were able to insert some messaging as well. Usually, it was a fairly subtle thing. We might include it in our introduction with a link. We had a couple of weeks over the last couple of weeks where we didn’t have advertisers in certain spots on the site so we were able to use some banner ads on those weeks as well. That certainly does drive some sales.

Then lastly, there are affiliates. This product didn’t go particularly well with our affiliates this time around. I’m not exactly sure why that is. I need to do a bit more research on why that was the case. Our affiliates didn’t seem to promote it as much as they have promoted our courses and ebooks in the past. I suspect maybe it’s because it’s a new type of product to them and perhaps they weren’t as familiar with it. Perhaps, we could have worked with our affiliates to educate them a little bit more. There’s certainly an opportunity there to go to some of our affiliates and to do some further work with them on this particular product.

We are just about finished our four-week launch. The price will go up tomorrow, probably in about 36 hours from now as I’m talking. We’re still yet to see some of the final sales come in, but we’ve seen over 6,000 sales of this particular product. We’re approaching $120,000 worth of sales at that time, which to me is definitely a pass. It’s above average for a product. Knowing that we’ll still see some more sales come in, there’s one more newsletter to go out tonight before that product ends.

It’s been relatively successful. It’s certainly not our number one bestseller ever. You’ve also got to consider in that $120,000, there have been some expenses. That’s just total revenue. It doesn’t include our PayPal expenses, our shopping cart expenses. It doesn’t include the split that we do with the creator of the course. It’s certainly not all profit. Please don’t think that we just made $120,000 in four weeks. It’s not the case.

Where to from here is the next thing. I’m always thinking about what do we do next. On a couple of fronts. Firstly, there’s the long tail. How are we going to keep getting sales? US$120,000 is great. That certainly is a success for us, but it’s only the beginning. I’m hoping that this product will sell way more than that over the coming few years. That’s really where the success of our products is.

Some of the ebooks that we launched six years ago now are still selling significant amounts every time. We’ve got 30 ebooks now, which we promote at different times throughout the year. Where to from here? It’s really important not just to get sucked into you only make money on your launch. You’ve got to build in systems that help to continue to promote those products.

There’s a number of things that we’re doing. We are now linking to the sales page from a variety of places around the site, particularly, articles that relate to this particular topic. We’ve got a whole category on our site for post-production. There’s an opportunity there to run some internal ads, to insert some calls to actions on those articles on the site, and to drive people on a day-by-day basis to this particular sales page.

As I mentioned before, there’s an opportunity to really go back to our affiliates and to do some education there with them and to help them to promote this product. It may be that we go to some of our better affiliates and say, “Hey, we notice you didn’t promote this. Would you like us to do a special offer just for your readers?” We’ve seen some success when we’ve done that in the past. It’s running almost like a mini-campaign just for particular affiliates. That can work quite well.

There’s also an opportunity there to go to those affiliates and bundle some of our other products. We have a post-production ebook that teaches people how to use Lightroom. We could bundle that ebook with these presets. It actually makes it a slightly more expensive product, which can be attractive to affiliates as well. It may be a $30 ebook with a $50 bundle, so $80 normal retail price. We could do that (say) for $40 for that affiliate, which is a more attractive commission because our affiliates take 40% of that $40. It adds up for them.

There are some creative ways that we can go to our affiliates. We will definitely feature this particular bundle of presets in our future seasonal promotions. We’ve got our 12 Days of Christmas campaign coming up at the end of the year. I would guess that this product will be a part of that. There are also opportunities to bundle this product with our other ebooks and other related products in that particular campaign, but also at different times of the year as well.

The other thing that I’m interested in promoting—I’ve seen this work on other sites—is sites where they use presets as an incentive to get people to sign up for a newsletter. I’m in two minds about whether we’ll do this, but it might be worth us trying this. The idea would be that in our pop-up that we have on the site that gets newsletters we might advertise that if you sign up for our newsletter we’ll give you 10 free presets. Then that gives you the opportunity to do a follow-up email to upsell them to this particular pack. I’m not convinced about that yet, but that’s certainly something that I’m pondering and I’ll talk to my team about.

That’s one of the ways I’m thinking about next steps is you know how can we continue to get sales from this and not just make money on the launch. As I said before, my hope is over the next 12 months that will double the amount of income that’s come in from this particular product. We may not quite get there, but that’s about where I’d be aiming for over the next 12 months. Then the 12 months after that probably wouldn’t be quite as much because a lot of our readers would already have that, but it certainly has the potential to continue to earn for some time.

The other way that I’m thinking about the next steps is thinking about what comes next in terms of products. It’s very easy to just get comfortable when you promoted an ebook in the past, “Oh, yeah. We just do ebooks.” Then just keep doing ebook, ebook, ebook, ebook.

The problem with that is that ebooks may not always work and that ebooks may not always be attractive to your readers. Your readers may actually burn out on ebooks. You need to begin to think about what other kinds of products you could promote.

This is why earlier this year, we created our first course. It’s actually based on one of our ebooks. It was on the same topic, but we realized some of our readers didn’t like ebooks, but they preferred to learn through video, so we created a course. We’re actually about to launch our second course because that first course did quite well.

Last year, we also launched a different kind of product. It was a printables pack. It was a pack of different poses that you can use in taking photos of people. That did quite well as well and now we’ve got our presets. We’re always thinking about what other types of products could we release, then also what other variations of products.

The first ebook I ever created was on portraits. Then I started thinking about what other types of ebooks could there be. We’ve done them on how to use your camera, we’ve done them on landscapes, we’ve done them on lighting, and we’ve done them on different types of things. I’m thinking in the same way about this particular product. What could we launch next that builds upon this?

There’s a variety of different things. We could launch another bundle pack, almost exactly the same concept, maybe in 12 months’ time. Probably one a year would be enough of that, but there’s also an opportunity to really narrow down and to release our portraits presets pack or a landscapes presets pack. There are also opportunities to create other products that teach how to use presets. Maybe an ebook on using presets or maybe a course on Lightroom. There’s a variety of different things that you can do there.

The key for me is to always be thinking ahead. Like I said before, we’re always thinking 9-12 months out about what our next products will be. At the moment, we’ve got (I think) three other products in production already. We’ve got a course coming and a couple of ebooks that are underway. We’re also thinking about our 12 Days of Christmas launch. 

We’ve got a number of things underway that we’re building towards launching in the next 6-9 months. Next month, I think it is or actually early October, we’ll get together as a team and we’ll plan next year’s products. We already know the first one for next year but we start planning out the next ones, which enables us to work out what products we want and then to go hunting for partners, whether they be people we’ve worked with before or finding new people.

I hope this has given you some insight into how we develop products for Digital Photography School. The process is similar on my ProBlogger blog in terms of how we’ve done ebooks there in the past, but on ProBlogger, we’ve also got our events. That’s really become the main product. That’s a different kettle of fish, which I might talk about in a different podcast.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this process. I know many of the listeners of this podcast have their own products that they promote and market differently. I’d love to hear how you do it, what do you do similarly, what you do differently. You can find the ability to leave a comment on today’s show notes. It’s at I’d love to get your feedback on this.

Also, I’d love to hear what kind of products are you developing? What do you have in development at the moment? You may not want to give us the exact specifics if you’ve got some concerns around other people copying your stuff, but give us some ideas about what you’ve actually been experimenting with. It’s great to learn from each other on this. I hope that by being quite transparent about how we do things that I’ll also learn from you in how you do things also.

If you could leave us a review on today’s show on this podcast on iTunes or on Stitcher I would love to get your feedback. There have been some great ones really coming in particularly over the last week or two. I will be featuring some of these in future podcasts, but I love to get more reviews. It does help us to rank higher in iTunes and on Stitcher, but it also really drives me on those reviews. I read them all the time because they give me inspiration, they give me energy for a future podcast. I do appreciate them, I do read them, and I look forward to chatting with you in episode 43 of the ProBlogger Podcast.

How did you go with today’s episode?

Have you launched a new product before? What worked? What didn’t work? What’s something new you might try?

We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. Don’t forget to share a link to your blog.

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