Creating Your Own Online Product

There are many ways to make money online. Gurus are always selling their own techniques. If you listen to one piece of advice you’ll go in one direction. If you listen to another you’ll do something different. And of course, each teaches that the other person is wrong. But there is one thing they all agree on. And one thing they all engage in.

If you want to create real income you need to start by creating your own online product.

But why?

Why do you need to go to all the effort involved in creating your own online product? Not just once but many, many times? That’s a heck of a lot of effort. So why?

There are a number of other ways to make money online. You can:

1. Sell physical products

2. Sell other peoples products as an affiliate.

3. Sell ClickBank products.

4. Sell advertising space.

And that’s just a few of the major methods.

So why would selling online products be so profitable in comparison?

Let’s start by examining the other methods. Selling advertising space is one way to make a few extra dollars. But to make real big money you need a great deal of traffic. And traffic of that magnitude is difficult to get and expensive to service.

So what about affiliate and ClickBank marketing? In both cases, you are getting paid for your own efforts. And that’s it. Effectively, you aren’t running a business you’re a commission salesperson. And you’re being paid like a commission salesclerk. You can’t leverage other people’s efforts. At least with affiliate marketing you are typically supporting a high ticket, high commission product. With ClickBank you’re not even selling that.

That leaves physical products. Typically physical products are other people’s products — you’re just the retailer. And like most retailers you get a portion of the sale — and only a portion. But even when the product is your own you’re faced with two problems. Fulfillment and shipping. You either need to pay someone to handle fulfillment for you. Or you’re going to have to take the time out of your own busy schedule. And the product still needs to be shipped. So the costs to you are very high.

Your own online products on the other hand don’t have these issues. Yes, you have to create them. But you control the process. In fact, that’s the byword for online products — control.

You control the marketing. So if you want to sell all by yourself you get to keep all the commissions.

On the other hand, if you want to sell through affiliates you determine how much commission you will pay them for sales. Not only that but you get to decide what constitutes a sale. And you get to leverage other people’s efforts to enhance your income.

Traffic also isn’t the issue that it is with advertising. Yes, you need to attract traffic but it’s a reasonable level not an extremely high level as it needs to be with advertising.

Online products don’t require any effort or cost for fulfillment. Basically you put the product up on the web, connect your sales process and you’re done. So shipping and handling costs are a thing of the past. And the occasional decision to create a physical product from an online product as a marketing shake ’em up. And unlike physical products there is very little cost involved in packaging or keeping an inventory.

The Five Stages In the Life Cycle of Online Products

Life cycles are an extremely useful concept. Like most models, they help people to visualize the progress of an online product under certain conditions. They help people to predict the effects of decisions within the life cycle of that product.

There are a number of different life cycles. In fact, everyone who has an interest in an online product has some form of life cycle. Learning content creators have their version of a life cycle based on the effort. Accountants have their view of a life cycle based on income. Project Managers often have two. One based on the development cycle and one based on the types of projects needed. And marketers have their view.

In a previous article, I suggested a very complex life cycle. However, in this article I’m going to describe one life cycle of online products as seen by a marketer.

This marketing life cycle consists of five steps.

1. Pre-Launch

The period before the launch of a product is the focus of many other life cycles. But for a marketer, this time is used for two main purposes. The first is preparation of a marketing plan and marketing assets to be used later in the life cycle. However, this period is also used to create a buzz. Frequently this is a very heavy period of marketing as pre-orders are important to recovering the cost of development of the online product. A large pre-order also helps to focus partners on the product so that they continue to support the marketing effort in the next stage.

2. Growth

Once the product is released there will be an initial period where sales grow. While the pre-launch focused on the initial penetration of the market, this stage is more concerned with obtaining a commanding share of the market. This period is often characterized by high marketing spending with respect to profit.

3. Stabilization

In time, the market begins to reach equilibrium. While new competition enters the market, it tends not to disrupt the status quo. This stage is characterized by high profit with limited market spending and a stability in the market share.

4. Decreasing Sales

As time goes by sales begin to decrease. This can be caused by an obsolete product. Or it may be a market-wide phenomena caused by market saturation. Or it may be the result of an alternate innovative market arising. In any case, this stage is often characterized by wild swings in marketing spending. This is the result of increased spending on marketing with little result followed by a demand to reduce spending in order to increase profit. Determining the value of increased marketing spending during this time can be frustrating and frightening.

5. Alternate Use

This is sometimes referred to as retirement. However, I prefer the concept of alternate use with online products. Online products are most often used as bonuses to improve the sales value of other products. Actual retirement is frequently used to adjust the market demand. Online products are also frequently improved and renamed with a version which somewhat eliminates their retirement in this stage. However, regardless of the strategy chosen, this stage is characterized by the withdrawal from sale of the product and the associated suspension of marketing efforts.

The Life Cycle of Online Products

Like many things, products go through a cycle during their effective lifespan. These cycles are regular and predictable. A formal life cycle can help build an understanding of the pattern of stages that a product goes through.

There are many different life cycles each based on the focus and pattern, which the author is observing. In this article, I’m going to share a very detailed nine-step life cycle of an online product.

1. Plan

A good online product begins with a plan. The plan details much of the background information required for the online product. However, only the requirements for the product are provided.

2. Design

In this stage, the requirements are given form. The online product that was described in the plan is defined in detail. A detailed outline of the product is produced.

3. Produce

This stage varies depending on the media of the online product. For example, an eBook is written at this stage. A teleseminar on the other hand may be written but it definitely is presented and recorded.

4. Package or Publish

The online product is still in a rough state at the start of this stage — although it is in fact complete. This stage polishes the product and adds elements that turn it into a professional, salable product. For example, a video will have opening and closing credits added and a cover designed.

5. Generating Traffic

At this stage, the product is available. However, sales are not actually occurring. Instead, traffic must be generated in order to ensure that sales are sufficient to justify the costs so far. This is often referred to as a pre-launch stage although it can occur after the launch.

6. Marketing and Selling

At this stage, the product is available and the traffic has reached a stable point. Sales are reasonably stable. In this stage, the marketing emphasis has switched to finding the right types of traffic, rather than the growth focus of the previous stage.

7. Declining Sales

After a period of time, almost all products begin to experience a decline in sales. This may be because of market saturation or real or perceived obsolescence.

8. Bonus

Finally, the sales have dropped to the point that marketing and sales efforts fail to produce sales. At this point, the product is retired from sales. However, it becomes available for use as a bonus to support the sales of other products.

9. Retirement

Eventually, a product will cease to be of value even as a bonus. At this point, the product will be removed from the products for sale list.