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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.

dps-traffic-launch.png

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Daren,

    Loved this post – and the analogy is perfect. I don’t sell a product – I sell a service (I know that’s my product), which has some unique issues in and of itself – true I don’t have to deal with product creation, updates, … in the traditional sense.

    But I believe it is much harder to sell a service than a product, since I can’t mass produce the commercial photography work I do.

    But I do see the importance of branding, adding value to my services (which are really taking pictures of people, products and places). I can add value by offering my clients less expensive solutions to solve their challenges in photography, I can produce the photo shoots thereby eliminating problems, which cost my clients money and/or time & headache.

    Value added services go on after my job as a photographer is done – when I deliver my images via a web delivery site, do my CRM in the cloud, and cross merchandise my customers products with other of my clients.

    All of these items – and many more – are part my ‘one-man-band’ repertoire and make me stand out in a sea of photographers.

    Thank you for your post – and the great story – I love to see how I can apply more of this to my business and become more successful.

    … catching the light!

    Photography by Depuhl
    http://www.depuhl.com

  2. Thank you for the post. I do have a question though. My wife and I have an idea for a fitness product and are currently working on a prototype; however, it is the steps after that create an obstacle for us.

    I search “how to get a product manufactured,” but we are still unclear on how to proceed.

    I welcome anyone’s advice.

    Thank you,
    Damon

    P.S. The blog portion of our (still under construction) website is going to consist of health & fitness related videos.

  3. I think the most of us/newbie of internet marketing have a huge trouble to create a self product. Here experience talk more than read. You can even can’t make quality product with only read a book, newsletter ect. You need some more experience.
    Thx Darren, very inspiring article

  4. Not only is having your own product to sell but multiple products as choice increases perceived value. You may have one average product but if you put it next to a couple of below average products now all the sudden the average product is looking a whole lot better.

    A lot of department stores etc deploy this technique, not all products are made to sell. Some are to help sell others.

  5. Hey Darren,

    I’ve been hearing this for a long time – have your own product and you’ll make more money. Duh – I get that.

    But I didn’t get it.

    And I didn’t know I didn’t get it until I read this. Thanks for outlining the 7 benefits. I never thought about the trees in the forest.

    Now I really do get it.

    Thanks Darren!

  6. Actually, I get very few clicks on the book, though the site itself does okay, so I’m really not all that sure, other than the market I’m trying to reach, which is small businesses, don’t want to read a book on the subject, instead just wants to hire someone to do the work for them.

  7. I think you are absolutely right. Two things I wanted to share:

    1. I was reading Problogger (the book) and remembered that you said you had a photography blog in there somewhere so when I was looking for a new camera for my wife, I went there first and found lots of great info…

    2. I’m in education and I have to say that when I have gone to workshops and the presenter does an exceptional job I often buy his/her book(s). There is an interesting thing that happens in education. We go to presentations and then go back to our classrooms and talk about how great it would be to do the things we just heard about until we forget. Having bought many books, however, I have found, keeps me engaged in the process of learning and growing long after the actual “workshop”. The book is the connection to the presenter that keeps me trying the things that put me at the top of my game.

    Good points you shared here… Thanks!

  8. Great analogy! And great information! I will commit myself to completing a couple of products I’ve got running around in my head as quickly as is practical. A shame I’ve had the ideas for a while but have failed to act on them before. Thanks for giving me the little “push” I needed to take a step in the right direction.

    Be well!

  9. I guess your kids help him sell the CD by their dancing! It’s surprisingly how a simple business idea can help in sales, even as simple as selling CD.

  10. Wow,your website has such a large traffic.I will sell my own products on my blog when my blog has such a large traffic.

  11. I’m a wicked fan of productizing yourself and I think in today’s world, selling your experience is a great play.

    I tell my friends, if they just write their book, they have a product they can sell the rest of their lives, and everybody has at least one book inside of them, even if it’s just their lessons learned.

  12. Perhaps, there can be a free text version of the content one writes on the website with revenue generation through sponsorships and an offline PDF version (and/or a text book version?) of the *same* content available for download after paying a small price?

    The user can read the content online for free, and if the visitor gets impressed and chooses so, he/she can download the full PDF with all the content from the website and read at his/her own convenience on his mobile device at the time of his own choosing.

  13. Hmm… You’ve got me thinking. It’s a scary thought, but you know what? I’ve just worked out what I could sell! Thank you so much!

  14. The Importance product selling is so important now a days. content ads programs like adsense and yahoo ads will vanish when RDF technology comes live on search engines.

  15. The busker had it right! I totally agree with you that you’ve got to have your own product to sell. I’ve currently got 9 that I’ve created, with many more to come. When you have you’re own product it’s like having a hundreds of little oil wells all over the internet. You don’t have to worry about competing with affiliates or splitting any of the cash.

    Great way to break it down into 7 benefits as well.

    If any of your readers are looking for a really easy way to make information products for FREE check this out:
    http://www.information-product-report.com

  16. I don’t particularly sell a product but sell services and I can DEFINITELY agree with your points, especially the first 5. It really is worth your time to put your focus on your own products or services.

    Sure, you can make a lot more money but you also rapidly build great relationships when you provide great results.

  17. I’m hoping this is right as I’m in the middle of writing myy first book. :)

  18. Selling your own products is definitely the best way to make money through a blog or website.

    Although it is harder to get a conversion compared with a click on an ad!

    Tom
    Tekrux

  19. Time to get off my butt and pull together the e-book that I’ve been creating in my head for the last three months! Thanks as always.

  20. Excellent points and very motivating to create a product of your own.
    I recently started blogging and thinking about adding affiliate links and also create a product of my own. There is definitely an initial block (hesitation?) in creating such a product. But I hear that once you have the first one, next ones will be much easy.

    Thanks for elaborated post.

    -Bheem

  21. Yes, that is a great post and all you say is totally right. And it inspires me a great deal. Thanks.

  22. Darren, I bought your ebook “31 Days” and am enjoying it, as well as implementing it. My question for you is, why do you not put your name somehwere on your blog posts? The name of your blog is well known (branded), but your name isn’t, at least to me. I do see that you recently started using your name in some of your outbound emails. You are the best blog teacher on the Internet. You give quite a lot and I appreciate that. Jim

  23. Whew… Everything are well stated above! You have a great commenters

  24. Excellent points and very motivating to create a product of your own.
    I recently started blogging and thinking about adding affiliate links and also create a product of my own. There is definitely an initial block (hesitation?) in creating such a product. But I hear that once you have the first one, next ones will be much easy.

    Thanks for elaborated post.

  25. The second guitarist who makes money by selling his CDs is smarter than the first one. Yeah, we can sell the same song but how we sell it determines how much we’ll earn. Thanks for this nice post.

  26. I literally started out as a novice, thinking it was real difficult to make money selling your own product, but with time i found out i could create and sell product easily.

    it depends solely on commitement.

    thanks for the post it really helps.

  27. I very recently started my blog and creating an ebook isn’t even on my mind. I might make it a 6-month goal though and make it available for free download.

    Thanks for the idea! You have some awesome, idea generating posts here :)

  28. Can’t agree more, as a matter of fact we are selling something our own.

    We do not have to soly rely on adsense, this makes me feel safer.

    And what’s more important, you can earn more!!

  29. great post with wonderful illustrations. I want to know how the tips are easily accomplished by beginners. Most beginners are always a problem with their blog traffic, always trouble with the promotion on their blog. thanks

  30. Oh thanks for those ideas! I’m not sure anyone would pay me to consult them on anything, but who knows?

    I do have a church-type of curriculum I’ve been working on for a while, it never occurred to me to try to sell it on my blog. Maybe I will :)

    And I dream about a real book all the time…

  31. A great post, and it makes a very profound point very clearly!

    I’m in the process of finishing my first proper products and am really looking forward to getting them live and sharing them with others.

    I really liked the busking analogy!

    Cheers,
    Iain.

  32. Hey Darren!
    This is really a wonderful post.
    I would like to create my own product because it helps me to earn an authority status in my niche.

  33. It’s very true that you have almost 100%control over a business if the product that you are selling, it’s yours. Clearly, you know where you want your product to be seen, how you want it to be known, you know all the details..and it’s really better for you to have the control.

  34. So, for the amount of time you put into producing the ebook, did the revenue justify it?

    I’ve heard from other webmasters (with millions of users) who were talked into writing a book and then selling it on their sites. One of them actually became a bestseller, but in the end, most of them didn’t think it generated enough revenue to justify the cost and energy put into it.

    So, for the amount of time you put into the ebook (including development, marketing, customer service, etc.), what much did you end up making per hour? The webmaster with the bestseller said at the end he ended breaking even. For him, he said it was a good marketing product for his site, but not a good revenue generator.

    Just want some good hard data, so people don’t go into it thinking if they just go and produce a product, it’s gonna be easy selling it on their sites. It’s probably not. It’s probably like any new venture, it takes a lot of work to build it, and then a lot of work to market it. If you have a lot of loyal users, you can probably make back your money and maybe even some profits, but if not, time might be better spend on improving your site.

  35. Your own product reflects who you are and what you’re capable of. People get to know you much better through your product. You establish relationship with your audience who become may your fervent fans. Let’s not forget that it creates buzz and revenue.

    All I see in it and read here pushes me toward completing my ebook on “search engine ranking”! Thanks a lot Darren.

  36. It’s very true that you have almost 100%control over a business if the product that you are selling, it’s yours. Clearly, you know where you want your product to be seen, how you want it to be known, you know all the details..and it’s really better for you to have the control.

  37. By amazing coincidence I was just lamenting in my blog about not having anything to sell. I left with unanswered questions (and with readers who probably thought they just witnessed a car wreck). Your concise post spelled it all out clearly. It motivates me. Great job.

  38. It’s very true that you have almost 100%control over a business if the product that you are selling, it’s yours. Clearly, you know where you want your product to be seen, how you want it to be known, you know all the details..and it’s really better for you to have the control.

  39. The best thing about having your own product to sell is you can leverage the marketing efforts of others by having an affiliate program of your product.

    That way, it’s almost as though you get free traffic, promotion and most importantly, money :)

  40. Great post, Darren – and the services provided for physical product creation and distribution by sites like Kunaki and the various self-publishers make it very easy to create, produce and do fulfillment as a physical product as well!

    For those who enjoy a bit more fame, there’s another benefit too… Having authored 20 or 30 e-books, reports and video series on Internet and affiliate marketing has led me to do dozens of recorded interviews, BlogTalkRadio shows, an actual business-talk radio interview and speak at conventions from Las Vegas to Orlando.

    Names, face & brand recognition skyrocket, credibility skyrockets, and each of those recordings and events leads to others promoting you regularly.

  41. Relatively new to all of this and now scouring your blog for all the tips I have been overloaded with information to be honest and glad to have found this blog. It just makes so much more sense than many of the others and the first one I have seen, where it actually says you need to work hard.

    I have always believed that hard work is always required and at long last is great to see that written down instead of the usual hype and bluster.

    Having my own product was something I have always wondered about. I have been in business for years and have a good knowledge and have written most of it down over the years. I have it in a set of word documents and hopefully useful to someone.

    You have now solved one problem for me so thanks for that. Having read your blog, is there any reason not to have your own product – sound so simple now. I promise you it wasn’t half an hour ago.

    Also read you basics blog, wish I ahd seen that 10 weeks ago.

  42. While thinking of the 2 scenarios, every tactics or strategy is welcome but the thing is what, when, where will you deliver. There were so many products that could lift you up–making some descent money on it. Although, it varies on person to person and what is that product. It will take time but its worth waiting for.

  43. While thinking of the 2 scenarios, every tactics or strategy is welcome but the thing is what, when, where will you deliver. There were so many products that could lift you up–making some descent money on it. It will take time but its worth waiting for.

  44. Wow I have been busy and not by for a bit and it was great to stop by and catch an excellent post
    thanks Darren gave me much to think about
    Happy Holidays

  45. You are absolutely right! Having own product/unique services to sell along with branding is the key to success. A lot of bloggers are stuck in the tier 2 or 3 or income stream and recognition mainly because they don’t have anything unique to offer.

  46. This is a important tip. But I really can not think out what can create to sell. The e-book is the easiest to write, But now there are too many this kind of products online!

  47. Excellent post Darren. I think this all comes back to establishing ourselves as an authoritative voices in our communities. When we’re able to point at a product, we establish ourselves as people with valuable information/in valuable positions.

  48. Nice post. My blog was recently converted from the Blogger platform to WordPress and as such I had to think ‘what can I offer people that they want?’ (and being a blogger with no actual product this is key).

    I have found these posts very easy to follow and educational, thank you.

  49. i agree with that. I have my own product and it sold well. Hope it will help them to earn some money too.

  50. i couldn’t agree more! right now, i’m still scouting for great products to sell this holiday season… i know it’s too late but worth giving the shot…

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