How to Develop a Product to Sell on Your Blog

Today’s episode is the second of the new ‘Today, Not Someday’ series of podcasts that will take us up to the end of the year about what you can do to make your blog ready for success in 2016. The focus is your ‘someday’ list, the things you’ve always wanted to do to improve your blog but have struggled to make happen. For details about how the series works, check out episode one here.

The focus of today’s episode is about why having something to sell is so important, and tips about how you can develop a product to sell on your blog.

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). In today’s episode:

  • Why having something of your own to sell is so important
  • 9 ways you’re losing opportunities if you don’t offer products on your blog
  • How I made my first product – the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned
  • 8 steps to follow to create your first product

Update: you might also like to check out this followup episode on how to create more time to create your first product.

Further Reading and Resources for How to Develop a Product to Sell on Your Blog

Other episodes in the Today, Not Someday Series:

The ‘creating products’ series on the ProBlogger blog

This is the series of blog posts I mention about ‘creating products’ that Shayne Tilley and I shared on the ProBlogger blog:

Meet my new friend, Edgar

I’d like to welcome a new sponsor to the ProBlogger podcast for the duration of this 10 part series, my friend ‘Edgar‘.

Edgar is a tool I’ve been using since January of this year that does exactly what this series is about. It enables you to make the work you do on social media keep paying off for the long term. You put a little work into Edgar today by adding social media updates highlighting the great content in your blog’s archives and Edgar goes to work to share them to your followers not just once but by queuing your updates to keep delivering to into the future.

The team at Edgar have put together a special deal for ProBlogger readers which gives you a free one month trial. Sign up for it at

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript

Hi there, and welcome to Episode 67 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and today, we’re continuing our series of podcasts on things that you can do today that will help to improve your blog forever. 

Hi there, and welcome to Episode 67 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and today, we’re continuing our series of podcasts on things that you can do today that will help to improve your blog forever. 

These are all things that have been, and are currently on my ‘someday’ list, things that we often put off as bloggers that we really should do today because they have so much potential to bring our blog alive. For the next 10 episodes, I’m going to give you 10 different things you can do today to improve your blog. 

You can find today’s show notes at You can listen to the introduction to this series in the last episode, Episode 66. 

This episode is sponsored by Edgar, a tool that I’ve been using since January of this year, that does pretty much what this whole series is about; help you to improve your blog by doing something today that’s going to pay off forever. Edgar allows you to create social updates for your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn accounts that will continue to be able to be used forever and it cues them up automatically for you. You can check out what Edgar does at 

And now, let’s get into today’s show.

Today, I want to talk about creating a product for your blog. Having something to sell of your own is so important as a blogger, but also, in other aspects of business as well. Want to tell you a little story. A few years ago, while on a beach vacation up in the northern parts of Australia, my family was out having an ice cream one night when we came across two street performers. We call them buskers here in Australia, but I know in other parts of the world, you call them ‘street performers’. Both of them were quite similar in some ways. They both were sitting there playing their guitar and singing, but they were doing it quite differently in terms of their business model. 

The first one was set up about 15 meters to one side of the ice cream shop that we were visiting. He had a guitar and he had his guitar case open in front of him to collect the loose change of those walking by. He was pretty good at what he was doing. He was a good singer, a great player of his guitar, and we stopped to listen to him for a moment. Our kids nagged us to stop and listen. They love and are fascinated by street performers. 

We listened for a few moments before walking on and leaving a couple of dollars in loose change in his guitar case. After buying our ice cream, we noticed another performer a little further down the road on the other side of the ice cream shop. Now, this guy was similar in some ways, but he was a bit of a one-man band. He had his honky-tonk guitar and a harmonica, bells on one foot and a home-made kick drum box on the other. He was a little bit different in that he had a little bit more going on, but he was a similar kind of style of performer. He was just as good as the first guy. 

He too had his case out for donations and tips. But, he was doing something different that in my estimation pulled in at least 10 times as much money that the other performer was making. He had two CDs for sale. Just by saying he had CDs for sale probably dates the story slightly, but he had a physical product there to sell. You could buy one of his CDs for $15 or both of them for $25.

Not only was this guy pulling in tips at a similar rate to the other guy, but I’d estimate 1 in every 10 or so people approached him to buy at least one of his CDs, and many bought two. In the 15 minutes that we stopped to watch this second guy, because our kids were quite fascinated by his act and they actually caused quite the impromptu of their own by dancing along to him, I saw him sell eight CDs in those 15 minutes. He was obviously pulling in some really decent money in comparison to the first busker. Having a CD to sell was great for revenue, but, interestingly, I think it also had other impacts on the audience. 

People seem to take him a bit more seriously than the other guy. I heard at least a couple of people in the crowd who were watching, and there was quite the crowd, comment on the fact that he was obviously pretty serious about his music because he recorded a CD. It gave him credibility as well as giving him a talking point when it came to chatting with people, and, of course, something to sell. 

The other aspect of selling a CD was that people walked away with something in their hands. They not only heard him and they had an experience of him, they actually had something to make that relationship potentially live on. They were much more likely to remember his name, connect with him on social media, tell other people about him because they had something, something that would remind them of him. 

I think this story illustrates some of the reasons why I think it’s really important to consider making a product to sell on your blog. As I tucked my boys into bed that night, and my three-year-old at that time insisted on sleeping with his new honky-tonk one-man band CD—you guessed it, we bought one, in fact I think we got both of them. It struck me just how powerful it is to have a product to sell. 

As bloggers trying to make a few dollars from our online activity, many of us get stuck thinking about making money by putting ads on our blog. But in doing so, I wonder if perhaps we’re doing it for the equivalent of busking for tips. That’s not the perfect illustration, but in my experience, having a product to sell really takes things to the next level. I know I’ve fallen into that trap myself of thinking that busking for tips was okay, and I’ve seen a variety of benefits of creating products for my own. 

Obviously the biggest benefit that I see is revenue. Having a product, whether it be a book, or an ebook, or a membership site, or some consulting, or coaching or something else has a potential to make you money. That’s great because it can be an addition to those tips, or to the advertising that you have on your blog. 

But, it also brings credibility. In the same way that people took that second busker a little bit more seriously, I’ve noticed that when I’ve had something to sell on my site, people tend to take me a little bit more seriously as well. This can bring in all kinds of other opportunities. 

I know within 24 hours of releasing my first ebook, I had an approach by a publisher wanting to publish that ebook. I would never have had that approach if it wasn’t for the ebook itself. It adds a little bit of credibility, it can add authority, and it can bring in opportunities. It also has the potential to deepen relationships with your readers in the same way that going away with that CD made that memory live on of that performer for us. As we played his CD, we remembered him. As we played his CD, we were reminded of his name because it was on the front cover of the CD. As we played that CD, other people who heard us playing it asked who the author was and gave us an opportunity to talk about him. All of that deepened the relationship with him, it made that memory live on. 

In the same way that happened with that CD, I’ve noticed the same thing happens with our ebooks and our courses. When people buy an ebook, they then go away and read that ebook and it takes them more than a day to read that ebook in many cases. I know for a fact that as people work through the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog ebook, that I get emails from people all along the way. For 31 days as they work through it, they have an ongoing relationship with me–and I see their tweets and I see their emails come in as they work through the ebook. It lengthens and deepens the relationship that you have with your readers. It also brings in traffic. 

This is kind of one that I’ve not really heard many people talk about before. When you launch a product, that often brings a spike in traffic to your site as well, whether that be through the emails that you send or affiliates promoting your product, or whether it’s just word of mouth, people coming to check out what you’re doing. I know every time we launch a product, we have a good month of traffic and that has other ongoing benefits for our site. 

Just a couple other benefits: you learn new skills and you’re forced to think about your topic in a way that you perhaps haven’t thought about it before. When I wrote the ProBlogger book for the first time–many years ago now–whilst I’ve been blogging about blogging for a while by actually being forced to write a book and have a publisher wait for me to submit a manuscript, it forced me to think in a deeper way, in a bigger picture way about my topic. So, creating a product can do that for you as well. It will improve your blog going on. 

I could go on and on about the arguments for having a product and I’m going to stop there. I think the argument for having a product is pretty strong. I think most bloggers I come across have, at least, have a dream of a product of their own, whether it be a book, or an ebook, or a course, or a membership site, or even a t-shirt, or some other kind of physical product or virtual product. 

Most bloggers seem to be sold on the idea that products are good, but most bloggers I know also have a lot of excuses as to why today is not the right day to start creating that product. That might sound a little bit harsh, but I say it because it’s been true for me as well. In fact, if I’m quite honest about this, it’s probably true for me right now. That’s why I’m actually starting this series with this topic because I know I need to move this off my ‘someday’ list and onto my today list. 

Some of you have heard my story of my first product before, so I won’t tell it in the long version, let me just give you the short version. When I started my main blog Digital Photography School in 2007, I had the dream of monetizing that blog with an ebook. I kind of knew what the topic might be, and I knew I had potential as well because I’ve promoted ebooks on that blog before and they kind of worked. My readers seemed to buy them, but I also had a long list of excuses as to why today wasn’t the right day to start writing that ebook. 

I had no time, we had a newborn baby in the house which meant I had even less time, I wasn’t thinking clearly because I was sleep deprived. I wasn’t confident; I lacked confidence about creating an ebook, I’d never done it before. I lacked skills; I didn’t know how to really write, or edit, or design, or sell one. I had a whole heap of questions about what shopping cart to use, and what marketing tactics to use. I guess I had a lot of doubts as to whether anyone would buy anything that I created because I wasn’t a professional photographer after all. 

For all of these reasons, the idea of that first photography ebook remained on my ‘someday’ list. It remained there for two years, in fact, before I decided to act. I decided that I either needed to kill the idea, the dream, or act upon it. In 2009, I decided to start creating that product. I did it by putting 15 minutes aside every day for three-and-a-half months to get it done. I spent my first 15 minutes a day planning it out, and then as the days progressed I started writing it and editing it, and then I started looking for a designer and started using my 15 minutes a day to research shopping carts, and then to start writing marketing copy, and sales pages, and sales emails. And then I put it out there. 

I’ve told the story before about how on the night I put it out there, I still had a lot of the doubts, but at least I’d completed it. I learned skills in that process that I knew would benefit from it, and I was proud of myself. 

I hit send on the email that launched that e-product to my list, to my readers, and I waited. Nothing happened at all for the first 10 minutes, but about 5 or 10 minutes later, a sale came in and I got notified via email that I’d made my first $15 from my first product. I was so proud of myself, and then I waited for another 10-or-so minutes, and then another email came in. I made $30, and I was excited. I began to think $30 for three months’ work, it’s not a great return on it but I was proud of myself. 

Eight minutes later, the next sale came in. Then five minutes later, the next sale came in. They started coming in every three minutes, and then every two minutes, and then every minute. Then, I began to see them come in every 30 seconds, and then every 10 seconds. The sales began to come in, they snowballed. I remember running into my wife at 3:00 AM because I launched this at 11:00 PM stupidly and waking her up and saying, “You wouldn’t believe what’s going on in my inbox.”

At that moment, I was incredibly excited as I saw this product becoming profitable. But, the biggest feeling I had at that point was why didn’t I do this earlier?  

That first ebook went on to make US$72,000 in the first 10 days after I launched it. I keep to myself every day of those 10 days as to why didn’t I do it sooner? Why didn’t I make it a priority? Why didn’t I put it on my today list way back in 2007 instead of waiting for 2009?  

By putting it on my today list, I opened up a whole new income stream for my blog. It proved to me that my readers would buy something from me. It proved to me that I had the skills to do it. It proved to me that I had the ability to get that done. 

Forty products later, we’ve now created 40 other things. I’m really glad that I put it on my today list way back in 2009. Whilst I could’ve done it sooner, at least, I did it. 

But you know what? The reality is that this creating a product still creeps back on to my ‘someday’ list from time to time. It’s very easy to get complacent, even when you’ve got products already, because those products sell and you can keep putting them on sale. And then, you kind of start putting the next product on the ‘someday’ list and stop being as proactive as you could. 

That’s my reality right now, and it’s the reason I’m starting this series with this topic. I’ve not created a new product on ProBlogger for over two years. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that, but I want to be transparent with you. It’s been on my ‘someday’ list for all of those two years. I’ve got some good excuses; I’ve been busy working on my other blog and creating products for that every three or four months. I’ve been running an event here in Australia which, I guess, you could call a product in some ways and building that. 

But you know what? It’s time for me to move this from my ‘someday’ list onto my today list so that I’ve got something to launch in 2016, something early 2016. That’s what I’m committing to do today. I’m going to start working on my next ProBlogger product. 

I want to finish this podcast today with a few quick tips on how to create that first product, particularly tips for those of you who are wanting to create your first product. Those of you who’ve already created a product, I know, and I’ve just shown you how this can creep on your ‘someday’ list again today. I want to challenge you to create your second, or your third, or whatever it is that’s next for you. 

But particularly for those of you who are looking at your first product and thinking, “I can’t do it,” “I don’t know where to start,” I want to give you a few tips. It’s impossible for me to give you specific tips because I don’t know what type of product you’re going to create, but a few thoughts came to mind as I was preparing for this podcast today. 

Firstly, identify what are the top three problems or needs that you see your readers having. Focus on one of these for the thing to build your first product around. Having a pain point that you can solve for your readers I think is a great place to start when you’re thinking about what to create as your first product. 

Number two, ask yourself have you already created content that could be the center of your first product? Particularly if you’re starting out in creating your first product, it can be quite overwhelming. Maybe you could base that product around something you’ve already created which will help you cut down on the work that you need to put into that first product. 

That might sound a little bit like cheating, but both of my first two ebooks had repurposed content in them. Both that first photography book which a lot of it was already published on the blog, and I updated it, put it in a logical order for my readers, and also, my first ProBlogger product, which was 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which was a series of blog posts that I’d written, which again, I updated, added some extra content to. But it was largely stuff I’d already written. That’s totally legitimate as long as you’re upfront with your readers about what you’re doing and add some new content. 

Third thing that I would give you as a tip is could you test a product idea with some content on your blog? Write some new blog posts, so you’re writing blog posts that’s actually serving your blog and improving your blog. But write them with the intent of using them as the cornerstone of an ebook or a product. Rather than repurposing content that’s already out there, write some new content that you could repurpose into an ebook. Don’t give it all away on your blog, keep some back for the product itself, but put it out there. 

This does two things that helps you just start creating that product, but also test the ideas. Hopefully, you will get some feedback from your readers that will improve the product that you create as well. 

A fourth quick tip. Just some analysis of what other people have created in your niche, your competitors or other blogs in your niche. This will give you a hint as to what kinds of products might sell well and what kind of topics might actually be good to cover as well. 

But alongside this, also look for opportunities to promote those products as an affiliate. It might sound a little bit strange promoting one of your competitors’ products, but if you can sign up as an affiliate, one, that brings in some income stream; but, two, it also shows you whether your readers are going to respond to that type of product and that type of price point and you’ll learn so much about selling a product by promoting someone else’s. Look for those opportunities while you’re developing your product.

Number six tip I’d give you is to ask yourself, “What would be the simplest and quickest product to create?” Your first product doesn’t have to be a mega product. It doesn’t need to be a month-long course, it could be something quite simple. A short ebook might actually be a better first product than a longer one. A short course, or even a printable, something just a few pages long that you sell for a few dollars may be a good starting point. It will give you some new skills, it will show you that you can do it, and it will get your readers used to buying from you as well. You’ll learn so much from it. 

The last two tips I’d give you are pretty much based upon my own experience of those first products, is to break it down. You will look at creating a product as being an overwhelming task, but break down the process in the same way that I did into bite-sized chunks, into things that you need to achieve to get your product created. For me, I knew I needed to plan it, I needed to write it, and I broke down the writing process by creating an outline. Then, I needed to research shopping carts, and I needed to find a designer, and so I made myself a list. It had 20-or-so things I needed to achieve to get the idea from an idea into reality. Write that down so that you can tick those things off one by one and make them bitesize, make them achievable in a few hours or a day. 

The last thing I’d encourage you to do is to set aside time to do it. It’s all well and good to plan out the process, but unless you put aside time to do it, it’s never going to happen. There’s a few ways you could do this. You could do it by 15 minutes a day or 30 minutes a day in the same way I wrote my first one, or you could put aside a whole day to get a big chunk of it done. This is what I’ve done for other products as well. Whatever way you do it, put aside some time to do it. 

Back in 2009, I moved the idea of creating a product from my ‘someday’ list onto my today list. As I mentioned before, today, we have 40 products: ebooks and courses. I did the sums the other day, we’ve had over 300,000 transactions of those products. It’s hard to know, we’ve changed systems a few times, I don’t exactly know how many we’ve sold. Many of those transactions are bundles of products as well. It’s probably closer to half-a-million products that we’ve sold since 2009. But you know what? It all started because I decided to do it and not just dream about it anymore. 

That’s what this series of podcasts is all about; small things you can do today that can lead to a massive impact in the future of your business. Not everything that you’re going to try and do will work, but doing is so much better than dreaming. And it increases the chances of finding something that will work. 

What product is on your mind that you’ll create some day, and what could you move on your today list? I want to encourage you to tweet it out. Have some accountability. Tweet me at @problogger with the hashtag #TodaynotSomeday with the product that you are going to create. 

Keep us updated as you create that product with that #TodaynotSomeday. When you’re finished, I want you to celebrate that and I really would love to see you celebrate that, just with a tweet, or a blog post, or something that you can hashtag as well. I would really love to see the products that are created as a result of this challenge. 

You can find today’s show notes where I’ve included some further reading. We actually ran a series of blog posts, I think, last year on ProBlogger which was designed to help you to create your first product. There’s a series of five posts there that will help you to work out what product to create, and to work out how to create that, and how to launch it as well. There is some really good further reading there, a lot of it written by Shayne Tilley who helped me to create my first products as well. 

You can find today’s show notes with that further reading at 

I can’t wait to hear what comes of this series of podcasts for you, and particularly, this one in creating products. 

Also want to thank Edgar who is the sponsor of today’s podcast. Edgar, as I said at the start of this podcast, is a tool that I’ve been using and paying for quite happily since the start of the year that has really revolutionized the way that I approach social media. Before I started using Edgar, a lot of my social media updates, I felt like they’re almost like wasted time. They would go up on my Twitter account and then 10 minutes later, no one would ever see them again and all that work I put into getting the tweet just right and finding an image for it really didn’t pay off ever again.

Edgar enables you to use that tweet, or that Facebook update, or that LinkedIn update again later on. The tweet can live on and it will queue up your tweets to redeliver them to your followers at a schedule that you determine to make that investment of time that you put into your social media pay off again and again. You can check out meetedgar and the offer that they have for you as ProBlogger readers at

Look forward to chatting with you in Episode 68 of the ProBlogger Podcast in just two days’ time.

How did you go with today’s episode?

How did you go with product ideas? What product do you think you will create and launch first? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

The hashtag I’ll be using to talk about this journey on social media is #TodayNotSomeday and I encourage you to share your journey too, using the same hashtag.

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