I have been on this blogging adventure for quite awhile now, and have received so many questions about how to get started, how to keep going with it, and what sorts of things to offer on a blog. The answer to all of these, is that the possibilities are truly endless. And the golden rule, as with anything else always applies – if you don’t love what your are doing, you are unlikely to stick with it.
So what sorts of gifts to you have to offer your readers? Perhaps you are a teacher, trainer, or coach who is looking to offer more than one on one coaching but you’re unsure of what to offer. There are numerous types of digital products that can be created to sell over the internet. The products that sell the best are ones that solve a problem or fill a need for a targeted audience. When a product solves a problem or fills a need, it becomes very valuable.
To get started, think about your target audience. What is a common problem or need that they have? If you have been coaching for some time, you are probably already aware of several common problems or needs that exist among your target audience.
However, if you are new to coaching or you are unsure for any reason, create a short survey and ask your target audience what they would say their top three problems are. Scan forums and question and answer sites looking for your target audience. Is there a common problem or need that they are discussing? Search for popular blogs that your target audience frequents. Are there similar posts mentioning a common problem or a need?
Once you have established your target audience’s problems and needs, you are ready to brainstorm product ideas. Actual brainstorming is meant to be done in a relaxed state for a period of about 15 minutes. If you are not relaxed, try a little deep breathing before you begin. Write down as many ideas as you can think of in the allotted time.
Remember, in brainstorming sessions crazy ideas are encouraged. You never know what an idea that seems crazy at first can be crafted into later. There may even be something in an outrageous idea that inspires you to come up with a great idea.
To maximize your brainstorming efforts, remove as many distractions as possible. A quiet, relaxing location is ideal. And if you know that you are normally more creative in the morning, set aside time to brainstorm ideas during the morning hours. If you are more creative in the evening, have your brainstorming sessions then.
A majority of people that create and sell products keep a “brainstorming” notebook or journal nearby wherever they may be in order to record ideas as they think of them. If you choose to do this, don’t be afraid to jot down partial ideas, words, and/or phrases. You might have more to add at a later time.
Mind mapping has recently become popular for brainstorming ideas. A mind map is a visual diagram that outlines information. They make use of colors, images, and symbols. A mind map is a graphical way to represent ideas. Mind maps help to structure and analyze information. They engage your brain, jolting creativity. Mind maps are an amazing way to brainstorm product ideas.
Oftentimes, people find that combining traditional brainstorming sessions with mind mapping is most productive. After a brainstorming session, use mind mapping to arrange and further develop your ideas. Combine brainstorming sessions onto one mind map if possible.
Reverse brainstorming is a technique that is useful when you are having trouble identifying a solution to a particular problem.
To begin a reverse brainstorming session you ask, “How could I cause this problem?” rather than “How do I solve this problem?”
Remember to relax and just write down any idea that comes to mind. Nothing is too outrageous at this stage. Once you are done brainstorming ideas that would cause the problem, reverse these into solution ideas. Evaluate the solution ideas that you come up with by asking if each idea is a potential solution or if it contains bits and pieces of a potential solution.
Use brainstorming, mind mapping, and reverse brainstorming techniques regularly to come up with endless digital product ideas.
Here are 16 digital product types and numerous ideas to get you started.
1) Podcasts – Podcasts are a type of audio broadcast found on the Internet that can be downloaded and played on a computer or an mp3 player. Podcasts can be found on topics ranging from dog training to sports to quantum mechanics. The FDIC even has their own podcast network which teaches basic personal finance skills.
It’s always a good idea to script and practice a podcast. Simply hitting record and talking is not going to produce good content that is valuable to your audience. Practicing is important because technical and other issues will arise and you should be equipped to handle them effectively.
A great podcast should make listeners feel like you are talking directly to them; creating a feeling of intimacy that makes educational and motivational topics perfect for podcasting.
2) Membership Website – By creating a membership website you can sell coaching through informational articles, videos, and live webinars for a monthly membership fee. It’s possible to create a variety of membership levels that determine the content a member can access. You could offer articles, presentations, and newsletters to lower level members while giving higher level members access to live group webinars, videos, and e-courses.
There are so many possibilities when you create a membership website. The potential to build something really valuable and become quite successful in your career is definitely there. A membership website allows you to offer coaching services to large groups of people without needing to spend time with each person individually.
3) E-books – Thanks to the invention of the Kindle followed by the Nook and others, e-books have skyrocketed in popularity. Amazon and Barnes and Noble both have large selections of e-books available.
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing gives e-book authors a quick, easy, and free way to publish their books worldwide. Amanda Hocking took advantage of this service in 2010 because she needed to raise about $300. Within 20 months she had made $2.5 million. She is certainly an exception to the rule, but who’s to say you’re not next?
People seem to be pretty hungry for career/personal development and self help products. Writing an e-book in your free time could definitely be worth it. If you have a blog or website for which you write, you can bundle related posts or articles together to create an e-book and eliminate having to start from scratch.
4) MindMaps – Mind maps can be used to help clients organize their thoughts, make better decisions, and solve problems. Many people sell mind maps that they have created to show the contents of leading nonfiction books, as study guides, and as informational products. Mind mapping templates could be useful to your audience as well.
5) E-courses – E-courses normally consist of a variety of multimedia content such as audio sessions, downloadable PDF worksheets, reports, checklists, quizzes, and video content. E-courses are a great way to make coaching services more accessible and affordable for everyone, which puts you in front of a much wider audience.
It can be overwhelming though to put an e-course together. The best way to create your own e-course is to first decide what problem or very specific topic you want to cover. Then, consider the make-up and structure of the course. For instance, how many lessons will make up the entire course? Will your course contain 1 report, 3 videos, 2 worksheets, and a quiz?
After deciding on the make-up and structure, create each lesson of your course. Creating the lessons can be hard. Try considering each lesson a fraction of knowledge. The final lesson is the whole knowledge. Each lesson adds a fraction of knowledge until reaching the final lesson which makes a whole. Lessons should build on knowledge learned in previous lessons.
To make sure your course resonates with those that purchase it you can create a blog or private Facebook group and ask that they share particular takeaways at the end of each lesson or at the end of the entire course.
6) PowerPoint Presentations – A PowerPoint presentation is easy to make. A presentation can present the main points of a topic clearly and visually. This holds someone’s attention better and for a longer time than an article or report would. Power Point slides can contain visuals such as pictures, charts, and even video which help bring abstract concepts to life.
Because Power Point presentations can help you communicate your ideas in creative ways, coaches and educators are beginning to take advantage. Power Point is easy to use and presentations can be created in no time. You can turn an article or report into a presentation rather quickly.
7) Audio – Audio lessons, programs, and training sessions are easy to create and very well-liked. When creating audio files make sure that they are compatible with smart phones and portable audio devices, such as mp3 players. Even the incredibly busy can fit an hour into their schedule to listen to audio. Many people have made it a daily ritual to listen while driving to work, working out, or doing household chores.
Self help and personal development seem to be extremely popular categories when it comes to audio downloads. The online education revolution has caused quite a demand for audio content.
8) Audio Books – Just as audio downloads have recently exploded in popularity, the same can be said for audio books. As a matter of fact, several of the most popular audio books on Amazon and Barnes and Noble are from the self development and success, motivation, and self esteem categories.
When you create an audio book it’s extremely important for the person reading to be able to convey the tone, energy, and message of the book clearly. They need to be able to captivate the listener. This is especially true in your line of work.
9) Printables – Printables such as worksheets, checklists, and mind maps can be very effective tools for coaches. Printables can be bundled together in a variety of ways and offered alone or along with other products such as videos, audio files, and Power Point presentations to enhance the users learning experience.
10) Workbooks – Take some of the templates, worksheets, and lists that you use in coaching sessions, add pertinent instructions, and put them all together to create a self help workbook.
11) “How To” PDF Guides – How to, DIY, and self help PDF guides are in demand. Create a guide for something that you are very knowledgeable about.
12) Video Series – A number of popular coaches have a video series that they have created in order to offer more than traditional one on one coaching. These are normally sold as 7, 12, or 15 days of training or they are packaged with other products such as audio to create 30 day or longer training courses.
Several websites have been created specifically for how to videos; they are extremely popular. If your public speaking and presentation skills are top notch, creating a video series should be the next project you undertake.
13) Screensavers – There are many programs for creating screensavers available across the Internet. A simple screensaver maker that allows you to add pictures and text to each slide can be purchased for very little expense, possibly even free.
Screensaver makers that offer more options are available for a range of prices. You could create screensavers with beautiful, eye catching images and text to highlight your main teachings, offer inspirational messages, and aid in stress management or relaxation.
14) Webinars – Webinars are live interactive meetings that can be a discussion, workshop, training session, or a presentation. Webinars can usually be recorded and access can be sold at various rates. Due to the many options available when hosting a webinar, there is a never ending list of things you can do with one.
If you are going to host a webinar, it’s essential to prepare for it properly. Webinars need to be planned, scripted, and practiced, especially when charging a fee for admission.
15) Paid Newsletters – Paid newsletters are similar to the free newsletters we all receive from our favorite websites. The difference is mostly in the quality of content that is sent in the paid newsletter. If you offer a paid newsletter you should go above and beyond to make sure subscribers get great content and are happy with their subscription.
16) Email Coaching – Setting up an email training or coaching program isn’t as difficult as it may sound. There are different options available for the duration of the program and when the autoresponder sends each lesson, but those are details you can adjust later.
The easiest way to set up a 6 week email coaching program, for example, is to create the content for 6 emails. Using a mailing list and autoresponder you can then create a list just for subscribers to the course. Set your autoresponder up to send an email each week to subscribers. Depending on which email marketing provider you use, it may be possible to set your autoresponder to only send out the next lesson when a subscriber has marked the previous one complete.
For the best results, take care of the details. Use an elegant email template and sign up form. Send a welcome message when a subscriber signs up and a thank you email when they finish the course. Most importantly, create awesome coaching content with great takeaways and allow your customers to ask questions via email so that they can get the personalized help they need.
Tools for creating different types and forms of content are regularly invented and as technology improves, new tools will come about. Ideas for digital products are limited only by your imagination.