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The Importance of Having Your Own Product to Sell

Recently while on a beach vacation my family was out on the street having ice-cream when we came across two street performers/buskers.

The first one was set up 15 meters to one side of the ice-cream shop we were visiting. He had a guitar and had his guitar case open in front of him to collect the loose change of those walking by. He was pretty good and we stopped to listen to him for a moment or two before walking on and leaving $1-$2 in change in his case.

After buying our ice-cream we noticed another performer a little further down the street. This guy was something of a one man band with honky tonk guitar, harmonica, bells on one foot and a homemade kick drum/box on the other. He too had a case out for donations/tips but also was doing something that in my estimation pulled in at least 10 times the money that the other performer was making – he had two CDs for sale.

You could get one of his CDs for $15 and both for $25.

Not only was this guy pulling in tips like the other guy – but every 10 or so people to approach him was buying at least one of his CDs.

In the 15 minutes that we stopped to listen to this guy (our kids were fascinated by his act and caused quite a commotion by doing an impromptu dancing concert on the sidewalk in front of him drawing a big crowd) I saw him sell 8 CDs. He was obviously pulling in some decent money in comparison to busker #1.

Having a CD to sell was great for revenue but interestingly it seemed to also play a part in his overall act. People seemed to take him a bit more seriously than the other guy – I heard at least a few people comment to one another about the fact that he was obviously serious if he’d recorded a CD – it gave him credibility as well as giving him a talking point when chatting with people.

The Power of Having your own Products

As I tucked my boys into bed that night and my 3 year old insisted in sleeping with his new ‘honky tonk one man band CD’ (yep, we bought one too) next to his bed it struck me just how powerful having a product to sell can be.

As bloggers trying to make a few dollars from our online activity many of us get stuck thinking about making money by slapping ads on our blogs – but in doing so perhaps we’re doing the equivalent of busking for tips (not the perfect illustration I know). I know I’ve fallen into that trap myself over the years but in working to develop products to sell I’ve seen a variety of benefits including:

  1. Revenue – obviously selling a product (whether it be a book, ebook, membership site, consulting, coaching etc) has the potential to make you money. The cool thing about it is that you’re not splitting revenue with an ad network or someone whose product you’re promoting with an affiliate promotion – but it’s all yours.
  2. Credibility/Authority – I discovered the power of having something of my own to sell when we launched the ProBlogger book. Suddenly people not only referred to me as a blogger – but an author. While a hard cover book does carry weight in some circles more than an ebook – any quality product gives you another thing to list as the creator of in your CV/bio and can lend weight to your authority and credibility.
  3. Opportunities – Within 24 hours of releasing my photography E-book recently I had two publishers contacting me asking if we’d be interested in having them publish it as a real hard cover book. 2 weeks after launch I’ve spoken to more photographers and photography site owners about possible collaborations than I can count. When you have a product of some kind people in your industry and niche tend to take notice. It shows others in your industry that you’re serious and able to produce more than just a blog and it shows you’ve got initiative. People are attracted to that and all kinds of opportunities can emerge.
  4. Deepen Relationships with Readers – when someone buys something from you once there’s an increased likelihood that they’ll buy something else from you at some point in the future – IF you keep in relationship with them. Keeping a list of those who’ve purchased something from you opens up future profitable interactions. While it’s great to have an email list of readers – it’s a pretty powerful thing to have an email list of people who are proven ‘buyers’ of products in your niche.
  5. Lengthens Relationships with Readers – three weeks after our holiday has ended my son is still talking about the honky tonk performer. He’s been listening to the CD and every time that happens the experience he had a few weeks back is reinforced. Just yesterday I had an email from someone who bought 31 Days to Build a Better Blog who told me that they had the e-book on their computer’s desktop. She told me that every time she did another of the daily exercises she also was reminded to also check out the latest posts on the blog – something she might not have done otherwise. That e-book is drawing visitors back to my blog on a regular basis.
  6. Accelerated Learning – regular readers of ProBlogger will remember that last week I revealed some of the lessons that I’ve learned in the last few weeks while launching a Photography E-book. I shared 8 lessons in that post but the reality is that while it was the most profitable week I’ve had as a blogger it was also the week that I’ve learned the most about internet marketing in the last 7 years. I’ve read a lot about how to launch products online, I’ve talked to a lot of people who have done it and I’ve viewed a lot of case studies of successful launches – but there’s nothing like DOING something to learn how to do it. The theory and past conversations and case studies are helpful – but on the job training is the best. Developing and launching a product will teach you so much about many aspects of blogging, business and yourself – it’s the kind of experience money can’t buy.
  7. Traffic – This morning I was digging around on my photography site’s stats. Before I logged in I expected to find that traffic had been a little down on the previous month as a result of launching the ebook over the last two weeks (because I’ve been a little distracted and posted less posts than normal) and as a result of the normal Thanksgiving lull in traffic. However I was surprised to see traffic was up by about 9% over the last 30 days as compared to the 30 days before that. You can see the chart below but the 9% rise was almost completely a result of the days after the launch. As I dug further into the stats I realized that launching the e-book meant more of our regular readers hit the site to check it out but that it also created a buzz around the web as other sites linked up and as people passed on word of the launch via Twitter. Similarly – RSS and newsletter subscribers went up by more than normal in the last two weeks – launching the product has found us new readers.


About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Thanks for a fantastic post, Darren. It’s very informative and very encouraging. It gives us the courage to go out there and begin to market ourselves and our own products. Thanks again for the post. Oh, and that’s cool that you got your son the CD. You must be a great Dad. ;)

  2. Great advice. Only after 10 years of promoting other people’s products am I making the steps to create my own product. Something I can bran and associate it with my online presence (niche).

    The first thing I did was to survey my readers to know what problems they have so that I can address those issues in my product.



  3. Agree, you should have your own product to sell however don’t make the huge mistake of doing your own product before you even have a bit of experience.

    I always recommend doing affiliate marketing first, build up that experience and money…. and than yes, move into your own product development and marketing.

  4. Not only was the performer capitalizing on the opportunity to be heard and make some extra cash by offering a product for sell. He was marketing himself also. Creating a following of fans….the only thing that would have made it more of a sweet set up would have been capturing the names and email address of the ones who bought or even the ones just watching. Just like on blogs….people lurk and read for weeks maybe before they subscribe or even comment. By getting their information he could have continued his engagement with his fans. Like letting them know if and when he performed again or a new CD.

    I don’t know…I suppose he could have place information inside his CD jacket giving people a directive to his MySpace, Facebook or website.

    I hope he did.

    This post was great…so much to learn and much more to implement…and then more to learn.

  5. After having a website for developers for 9 years, it was only this post that inspired me enough to finally put a product to sell.

    Thanks Darren and everyone.

    Opensource ASP.NET Newsletter.

  6. I know a guy who used to do affiliate marketing (selling other people products) then he recently produced his very own product(ebook) and he just multiplied his income but it wasn’t an easy journey to create a product, a lot of efforts but it pays off at the end

    Great post!

  7. I’ve learned a new technique for creating your own product (one that people will want and pay for) that I have been able to promote on my Social Media Marketing Plus Blog. It’s easier than it used to be and here’s why. Get yourself a Mind Mapping software tool and lay out a process, a methodology or something that seems complex, that when you model it and detail the 1-2-3-X steps, you clear up the confusion.

  8. Thanks for a fabulous post. I’m setting some 2010 goals. We already have a product (a guidebook / scavenger hunt for kids visiting Yosemite National Park), but you’ve shown me a different way to connect with our audience that I hadn’t seen before. Thanks much!

  9. I totally agree with you. I have my own product and it sold well. Hope it will help the newbies to earn some money too.

  10. I agree that having a product or a value added service is essential. It gives more of an opportunity for success for the seller. Plus it shows that the seller is serious, focused and enjoying what he or she is doing. I know when I go in to a coffee shop for a simple cup of coffee if the cashier is pleasant to me that is value added service and I’ll go back. If she is rude, I will hesitate. Or if I visit a website that is difficult to navigate through I won’t go back. Adding products, services and information does draw people to your business.

  11. I also think it is important to have a good relationship with your customers and the best way to accomplish this is to be genuine and sincere. People know a phony when they see one.

  12. With information overload, the best way to get customers is by word of mouth. With that in mind, keep your customers happy and they will tell someone and so on and so on….

  13. I agree that coming across as a professional and letting people know you are serious and passionate about your product is important, just as the street performer was by creating a CD.

  14. By far one of the best advices everyone could ever receive is the one you gave us in this post U_U. I love the analogy, and this happens everyday.

    Thanks for this post.

  15. Great article. Your own niche product/blog is going to produce more revenue than a copy cat or advertising someone else’s products.

  16. I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you that I really loved this entry. It was full of great information and creativity, both of which we always need.

  17. Seems like producing a good eBook isn’t too difficult these days with a lot of PLR material out there in addition to cheap VAs from other countries looking to do work for $6 an hour.

  18. My brother and I came up with our own product last year and we have found that people definitely take us more seriously since doing that. We have a pretty strong community of followers now.

    I agree with everything you’ve said.

  19. Lol this reminds me of that quote “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

  20. Truer words were never spoken, especially in the IM online world. As an adjunct to this mantra, its also prudent to forget trying to sell what you’re passionate about vs. what the market is asking for or better still, demanding in large volumes.

    I’ve been tracking the stats and emerging trends on how and why video marketing is critical to online success and how even the average guy can compete in a competitive niche w/out having to fork up major dollars in the process.

    This is one of the reasons why I am focusing on Video Marketing as a main staple in my online marketing efforts.

  21. Hey Darren,

    that post hit the bullseye! I’ve had a consulting business for a few years and saw that I always trade time for money. Even when increasing hourly fees you still have an income cap.

    With product sales you don’t have the income cap and don’t have time issues either. Once the system and the support is taken care of, you, the entrepreneur can start other projects.



  22. Great read, well-written. The problem I think is that when visitors hover their mouse into your name and see that url directing to a blogger profile in their status bar, its more likely that they won�t click it.

  23. Its not easy starting a small business in which you invest so much of your time and money on it, but this will give new small business owners an edge in selling their products. I too benefited from this information that you shared, thank you.

  24. Its great to have your own product to sell and really the importance of the selling of your own product is tremedous when its done very accurately.

  25. This is a great post at a great time.

    While offering a product isn’t the ‘one shot, one kill’ road to legitimacy and success that many here are seeming to believe, it does show a level of seriousness and professionalism that as part of an overall presentation can work in your favor.

    Reading this strengthened my belief that the final section of my front page would be devoted to the products I already have for sale.


    Thomas @ MMA.BS

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