How to Write Product Descriptions that Sell

{Guest Post by Corinne Kantor, BS, DTR, CLT}

A good product listing is key to being successful at selling products and services online. If your product listing is not well written and does not contain the information that potential buyers want to know when making a purchasing decision, you could be disappointed with your online sales.

One of the most important factors to consider when creating a product listing is the target audience. The person looking at your product listing most likely knows nothing about your product and in many cases might not know anything about you. Therefore, your product listing could be their first impression of you. Keep in mind that when buying a product or service online, especially a digital download, buyers can’t pick up or touch your product, so it is important to include as much information as you can about the product in the product listing – think about what you would want to know about the product if you were considering buying it.

A product listing consists of two main elements: the product listing description and the product listing image.  In this RD2RD LIVE interview, Corinne explains these essential elements.

Product Listing Description

The product listing description should state what the product is and what the buyer is getting. It should be easy to read and to the point. Therefore, utilize short paragraphs and bullets to describe your product – this makes the description more “scannable” to readers, allowing them to easily find the information they are looking for.

Begin your product listing description with a short summary of the product, and then use bullets to include additional details, such as an outline of what is in the product. Don’t forget to include information about the benefits of the product, either in the summary or in a separate bulleted list. Do not make the product listing description too general or vague. Depending on the product, you might also want to include the number of pages, the file format, licensing info, and verbiage that says there are no refunds available.

Product Listing Image

Because the product listing image is typically the first thing potential buyers see about your product, you want the image to be attractive and eye-appealing. If you need ideas for product listing images, look at product listing images on other web sites that sell digital products, including RD2RD, Etsy, and Teachers Pay Teachers.

Before you begin creating your image, find out what the image size recommendations or requirements are for the web site you are posting your product on. This is important to know so the image looks good on the web site – you don’t want the image to be cut off.

The product listing image should include the title of the product, and you might also want to include your name or your business name for branding purposes. When using text on an image, use a font that is simple and easy to read – there are a lot of beautiful fonts available but some of them are very difficult to read.

While you don’t want the image to look too busy, include some color so it looks more eye-appealing. Do more than just taking a screen shot of your product and using that as the image, such as a form, unless it’s a cover for an e-book. While a screen shot gives potential buyers an idea of what your product looks like so they can see what they will be getting, a downside to using a screen shot of your product as the product listing image is that someone might be able to save your image on their computer, and as a result, they were just able to obtain your product for free – one way to prevent this from occurring is to use a watermark on the screen shot.

What software should you use to create product listing images? Canva is a free, very simple, and user-friendly tool that is growing in popularity – it includes free backgrounds, images, and fonts for you to use. You can also upload your own images to Canva. Adobe Illustrator is also another option for creating images. Corel Paint Shop Pro is basically a miniature version of Photoshop that is great for taking and editing screen shots.

In short, when writing a product listing, think about whether you would buy your product based on what you wrote. Consider showing your product listing to others before posting it to get some feedback – they may have questions about the product that you didn’t think about including in the product listing. Other might also notice any spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors that you missed.

Remember, if your product description is not well-written, people might not think your product is very high quality and they will be less likely to buy it.

About guest author, Corinne Kantor, BS, DTR, CLT

I am founder of The Food Cop and Diet Tech Central. I am a Registered Dietetic Technician, Certified LEAP (Lifestyle Eating and Performance) Therapist, and award-winning writer. I’ve been featured in numerous publications, including U.S. News & World Report, Parenting OC magazine, and the Orange County Register. My goal is to educate others about the importance of nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. I especially enjoying educating others about clean, healthy food; edible gardens; and food sensitivities. A little more about my background…I have undergraduate degrees in Dietetics and Journalism, and I am also a certified U.S. Diabetes Conversation Map Facilitator. I have been the dietary supervisor at a skilled nursing facility, and I have also worked in the nutrition department at various acute care hospitals. My writing awards have been in the field of technical writing from the Society for Technical Communication.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Click here or enter your email, below!



Do This first! What RDs with Successful Digital Products Want You to Know

Digital products have the potential to generate a valuable income stream for your business.  You might wonder how to get started or be sure your product will generate the sales you desire.  These tips from RDs with successful digital products will help you set sail with a clear vision and chart a profitable course.

Pro Tip #1: Create something your audience wants and needs.

While this may sound obvious, it is very common to think we know what our customers want and create our product in a vacuum.  Is it essential to validate your product and confirm your audience is willing to pay for.  Do this before you spend valuable time developing it.

Jill Castle, MS, RDN, author and childhood nutrition expert has numerous successful digital products.  Her best advice is “to create a product that your audience actually wants and needs.”  She often asks her audience for their input.  This is exactly how she developed “Try New Food: How to Help New Eaters, Picky Eaters and Extreme Picky Eaters Taste, Eat and Like New Food!”

What exactly does it look like to ask your audience?  This could be a formal survey you send out to your email list or a quick “can you help” post on social media.  You may also consider doing focused interviews with your ideal customers.  Offer a gift card can encourage participation.

There are added benefit of speaking directly with target customers of your product.  You will be able to hone in on the words they use to describe the problem your product solves.  Using these words and phrases in your product description is a best practice for attracting customers and driving sales.  Notice the title of Jill’s book strategically uses words that resonate with her audience.  She utilizes language her customers use, like “eat and try new food” and doesn’t utilize complex or scientific terms.

What if you don’t have an audience?  Listening and asking a similar audience in an online community can reveal valuable information.  Perhaps you are a member of a Facebook group or electronic mailing list.  These are excellent places to both identify common questions and pain points as well as ask direct questions about a product you are developing.  Be an active member of communities and online forums where your target customers “hang-out.”

Take it from a pro and listen to your audience, ask them directly and create a product they want to buy!

 

Pro Tip #2: Survey your customers for updates and additions they would be interested in.

While finding new customers for your product is often a core focus, did you know that it takes 6-7 more times the effort to get a new customer than keep a current one?  Focusing on existing customers can be a valuable approach to drive repeat sales and word-of-mouth marketing.  Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, co-creator of the Master the Media e-course uses this approach to determine what updates and additions her audience is interested in.   This approach keeps current customers happy and leverages new sales as well.

One of the approaches used by Amy to market the Master the Media e-course is a webinar that teaches 5 tips to break into the media.  This free webinar attracts a great deal of potential purchasers and helps to drive sales of the course.  While not all attendees will purchase the e-course, these attendees are a valuable source of feedback.  By keeping a line of communication open with quality content with email marketing, you can continue to nurture the relationship for future sales.

Using a promotional (free) webinar to build your email list and market your paid product is excellent approach to drive sales.  However, putting the pieces together to create a successful webinar can be overwhelming.  For a comprehensive look at how Amy has developed a successful webinar for the Master the Media e-course, watch this video.

Your existing customers and current followers are an excellent source of feedback on how to improve your product or what new features would add value.  Taking the time to continue to serve your audience can reap great rewards with repeat purchases and word-of-mouth marketing.

 

Pro Tip #3 Be sure your audience is willing to pay for the products you know they need.

Offering a free download or promotional product can a great deal of interest and activity, but it may not translate into sales if you launch a paid product.  People are often willing to grab free products, but won’t opt for a paid version.

Monica Bashaw, MScA, RD offers insight that “what our clients need is not necessarily the same as what they are willing to pay for.”  Developing your product from an RD perspective and clinical expertise may result in a very high-quality product, but not appeal to your audience.  Consider taking time to validate your product idea.

Monica is an expert in bariatric surgery nutrition and the author of “The Complete Guide to Weight Loss Surgery: Your Questions Finally Answered.”   She has found that current clients provide much more insight than polling her Facebook audience.   Routinely seeking input from your existing clients or using a post-visit survey can provide valuable input.  This feedback can be translated into products that are desired and that your customers would be willing to pay for.

The key nugget of advice is to not create products wearing our “RD hat” and focusing on what we know our clients need.  Instead, you will be more successful by gathering insight from your clients and developing products they are asking for.

 

Tip #4 Always upsell or provide the next step to working with you.

Digital products are a great opportunity to offer a low-cost entry point for clients to explore your services.  However, they also offer a valuable opportunity to upsell more expensive products and services.  Jennifer Skoog, RDN, LD, CDE offers the advice “always upsell or suggesting the next step to working with you.”

Think about a time you’ve been shopping online and have been presented with a higher priced version of a product you are considering, perhaps the “upsell” includes additional valuable services or is a more comprehensive product.

Upsells are incredibly powerful with digital products are a unique aspect of the online environment.  Most comprehensive online shopping cart tools offer functionality to set-up an upsell.  You will need to spend time thinking about how you can structure your products and services so you can consistently offer customers that are shopping your entry level products an upsell or encourage them to take the next step to work with you.  For more on choosing a shopping cart to sell your digital products, check out this article featuring popular options.

Jennifer offers a “Healthy Meals Masterclass” for moms.  Included in her product is a built-in upsell that includes a more comprehensive meal planning guide.  This upsell process allows you to offer an entry level product to attract potential customers, but also maximize your earnings by offering higher priced items during the purchase process.

Take the Next Step

Selling digital products is a great opportunity for your business, both to generate passive income, but also to attract new customers.  To learn more about how to create digital products, download my FREE ebook, a guide for RDNs getting started selling digital products.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Click here or enter your email, below!



3 Myths About Selling Digital Downloads

Selling digital downloads can feel a bit overwhelming.  You may have a plan for developing your product but find yourself perplexed by the prospect of selling the item.

It doesn’t have to be a confusing, and debunking a few myths can help you discover a shopping cart solution that is well-suited to you and your product.

This article tackles 3 common myths and includes a downloadable decision tool that quickly identifies a shopping cart solution that meets your needs.

Ready to go from confused to confident?  Let’s tackle the myths that most often hold people back from successful selling.

Myth #1: It’s difficult and you must be a tech wiz.

It’s a great time to start selling digital downloads.  Because of the boom in online sales of digital products like ebooks, photos, online courses and software, there are numerous comprehensive and affordable options for selling your digital downloads.  The hardest part will likely be choosing from the vast number of options.  While lots of choices can be a blessing, it can also be a source of confusion.

To narrow down your search and choose a good fit for you and your product, there are few key considerations.  An important one is the complexity of the technology to get things set-up.

A great choice if you are taking a DIY approach to selling your digital products are hosted options.  While hiring a web developer to set up an ecommerce store is certainly an option, it isn’t necessary.  These “out-of-the box” shopping cart solutions are structured as a service and offer a great deal of convenience if you are planning on setting up your product listings without the help of a web developer.  This article features three RDs that have done just that using hosted shopping cart solutions.

Understanding how these hosted options work takes some of the mystery and confusion out of the process.  Hosted shopping cart solutions such as Gumroad, e-Junkie and DPD store the file that will be provided to the purchaser, provide payment processing (or allow you to connect existing accounts) and automatically deliver the download to the purchaser after payment is received.  Read a more detailed review of these options here.

Hosted shopping cart solutions typically offer all the tools you need to sell your product, but do charge a monthly flat fee and/or transaction fee with each sale.  Because your website isn’t processing the sale, an SSL certificate isn’t required. An added benefit is they also feature comprehensive, step-by-step tools to help you get your product listing set-up and ready to sell.  Most offer an affiliate program which allows you to offer affiliates a percentage of each sale for promoting your product.  Convenient reports and even the option to sell other digital products like subscriptions and streaming video make them an appealing option.  Grab my decision tree to help you decide which one is best for you.

Hosted shopping cart solutions make it easy to just create a listing and then either add an “Add to Cart” button on your website or use a hyperlink that takes the buyer to a separate product listing page to complete the purchase.  One objection often expressed is that these shopping carts take the buyer to different website to complete the purchase and that it is necessary to choose a licensed shopping cart built into your website to offer a checkout experience that feels integrated into your website.

To eliminate the customer experience of being taken to a different website to purchase the product, some hosted shopping cart solutions allow you to create an “overlay checkout” experience.  With an overlay checkout screen, the buyer doesn’t have the experience of being taken to a different website for checkout.  Setting up the overlay checkout requires a bit more tech savvy, but is certainly an option if you don’t want your customers to experience a checkout process that appears to occur on another website.  If you are using an overlay checkout, payment processing and delivery of the download is still completed by the hosted shopping cart solution, but the checkout experience feels integrated on your website.  Grab my free download to see which hosted shopping cart solutions offer an overlay checkout.

One major consideration for hosted options that adds a layer of complexity (and often confusion) is payment processors.  With online sales, payments are processed through a payment gateway such as PayPal Business, Stripe, AuthorizeNet and others.  Some of the hosted options require you to connect your accounts with payment processors while others offer a built-in payment processing.  If you don’t have accounts set-up with payment gateways and/or don’t want the added complexity of setting up accounts, you should consider choosing one of the options that offers built-in payment processing.  Download the decision support tree that provide you with options based on your preferred approach to payment processing.

Selling a digital download online will require you to develop new skills but isn’t reserved only for those with advanced technical skills.  Many of the hosted options are designed with just this objection in mind.  They are designed to be easy-to-use and while they do come with some monthly fees and/or transaction fees, they make the process of getting your digital download available for sale much easier than setting up all these components on your own website.

Myth #2: You have to have a website.

While selling digital downloads from your personal website is a common way to sell digital downloads, it isn’t required.  You can create an online store by using a number of shopping cart solutions or online marketplace providers.  Your online “store” is a web address and contains a listing of all the products you offer conveniently listed in one location.  You can easily share this link on social media or promote in other ways.

A well-known example of this is Etsy.  Each seller has their own store on Etsy, creates and manages their own products, can view earning as well as communicate with customers.  You may be most familiar with Etsy for physical products, but it also allows you to sell digital downloads.

An added benefit of Etsy is the exposure that your product receives as a part of this marketplace.  Etsy is a highly recognizable brand and is a destination for online shoppers.  This means that your product will be seen by a wider audience.  While creating your product and product listing is a big step toward selling your product, another large component is getting your product seen by potential buyers.

RD2RD is a marketplace website that is designed exclusively for RDs and DTRs.  Listing your product on RD2RD gets your product in front of a wider audience to promote sales.  Products can be purchased by both professionals as well as the public, but only RDs and DTRs can create stores and list products.  It is a destination for RD and DTR created nutrition resources.  Learn more about RD2RD here.

Myth #3: If you create a digital product listing, people will flock to purchase it.

Creating an ebook, toolkit or other downloadable product is a LOT of work, however a quality product won’t sell itself.   Creating an appealing product listing is just one step in the process of selling a digital download.   The marketing for your digital product to promote sales represents much more of a time investment than creating the actual product.

You will need a marketing approach to generate product sales.  This is an individualized process, but perhaps you have an established clientele and plan to promote your product to this group.  Alternatively, you may be a blogger and use your product to generate sales from website visitors.  For great examples of this, check out Lindsay Livingston’s Ultimate Food Prep Guide described in this article.  She uses Gumroad to sell it.

A marketplace site gets your product out in front of a wider audience.  However, marketplace sites do have associated fees/expenses.   Considering how you intend to market your product as well as if you already have an audience established (i.e. email list or social media following) can help you to determine if listing on a marketplace site is a good fit for you.  Remember that you can sell your product in numerous locations.  Selling both on your own website as well as a marketplace is a popular strategy for creators of digital products.

The Bottom Line:

Selling digital downloads doesn’t have to be confusing.  Choosing a shopping cart solution that is suited to you and your product will make the process much easier.  Tackling these common myths have positioned you to make a decision, get your product listed and start generating passive income.

To help you make the decision, download my decision support tool that will provide you with recommended shopping cart solutions.


The future of social media? First look at Vero

Another new social media platform!  Vero is dubbed “true social” and is free from advertising, an algorithm and offers a chronological format.  After taking the platform for a test drive, I have a few reactions to share.

First, it certainly doesn’t look and feel like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.  While it does feature a traditional scrolling feed, your content is also organized in collections.  There are suggested products, featured users and editor’s picks when you open the search area.

This article goes into more detail about what exactly Vero is, but the statement “as a subscription-based service, our users are our customers, not the product we sell to advertisers” gives a interesting perspective about this newcomer.

Posting Content

In each of the collections, there are items you’ve shared as well as those shared with you.  When you add a new post, you choose a collection (photo, video, link, book, movie, etc).   From your home screen you can view your collections.

Just to give it a full test run, I posted a photo, link and video to get a feel for how the process works and how content will be organized.  Additionally, I made and received connection requests.

Making Connections

When making connections on Vero, you can choose if the person is a close friend, friend or acquaintance.  Note in the screenshots below, there is an area for both connections and followers.  This allows you to separate friends AND followers.  Within connections, you have further ability with the groups previously mentioned.

Each new post asks you to specify if the content should be private, seen by just friends or acquaintances.   Note in the image below that this content is view able to followers (the binoculars).  However, after posting it, I wasn’t possible to change the audience.  You can edit the post’s content but not audience (at least I couldn’t figure out how).

As previously mentioned, the platform also allows followers.  Followers are treated differently than your connections.  You can choose to follow someone without making them a friend or acquaintance.  In settings you can specify if you want to allow followers.

Another interesting feature of Vero is that you can choose which collections you want to see from each connection.  This means that if you only want to see videos/photos and not links from a specific connection, you can.  This gives you control over your feed and the content you see.

The different categories of friends and followers feature allows you to get very specific about who can see your content and what content shows up on your feed.  Remember that when you add a post, you can also make the content viewable to followers (the binoculars).

My first reaction to this platform is positive.  As an RD business owner, one of the biggest struggles I have is managing social media and keeping my private life, private.

Vero features an easy yet powerful way to control my content audience and also allows me to share business-related content with followers from ONE account.

Will Vero be the Next Big Thing?

Vero is offering free accounts to the first 1 million subscribers.  After that, it has plans to make subscription-based access to the platform.  How this will resonate with social media users is yet to be determined.  Will its ad-free/algorithm-free format be sustainable?  I don’t have the answers to that.  Forbes magazine says businesses says that for now “it’s a resource stretcher no brand likely needs now.”

Bottom Line

Vero puts you in complete control over the content on your feed and how/if the content you share is seen by others.  Their statement “our users are our customers, not the product we sell to advertisers” seems to be the mission with which they developed their platform.

It is easy to connect and categorize connections (close friend vs. friend vs acquaintance).  Further, you can allow followers that don’t fall into any of these categories.  When making a post, it is easy to specify where it should be displayed and to control the specific content from connections that you see.

Important note, Vero is receiving some criticism for its terms of use and specifically that content you post can be used without limitation.  For details about how the TOU compare with other social media platforms, this article gives a great comparison.

What do you think of Vero?

NOTE:  This is a developing article as new details and user feedback becomes available.

 

Filmora scrn – Why These 3 Features Make it a Top Pick for Screen Recording

Capturing and editing a screen recording is an essential skill for online course creators.  Screen recordings also make engaging videos for landing/sales pages and social media!

Are you disappointed by the functionality of free screen recording tools?

Do you want a screen recording tool with full-featured editing but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars for Camtasia?

Do you spend time re-recording entire video lessons for your course when edits on just a few slides are needed?

Filmora scrn is a screen recording software tool from the makers of the popular video editing tool, Filmora.  It brings a combination of easy-to-use functionality and advanced editing features.  Watch the tutorial video for a full demo.

Pricing: Free demo (videos contain watermark), Pro $19.99/year or $29.99/lifetime)

Favorite Features:

  1. Record both your screen and webcam simultaneously

Capturing both your webcam and screen at the same time allows you to be face-to-face with your audience when recording a presentation or creating a tutorial.   When setting up for a recording, you can specify if you want to capture your screen, webcam or both.  The set-up for a screen capture is shown in the image below.

Once the recording is finished, it displays the webcam as an overlay against the screen recording.  You can adjust the size, location of the webcam capture, or remove it entirely.

Using the powerful editing suite, you can snip out sections of both the webcam and screen recording. This allows you to create variation in your final video where you have just your webcam, screen only or both displaying together.  In the tutorial video you’ll notice that within the first minute, I switch between screen only, webcam and then a picture-in-picture format.

The advanced editing features are both powerful and easy-to-use.  By featuring both webcam and screen, you can create an engaging presentation that stands out from the crowd. This feature is particularly useful if you are creating video lessons for an online course.  Watch the demo video, where I show you these options in detail.

  1. Easily add annotations such as captions and cursors

Filmora scrn makes it easy to add captions to your videos.  This is an incredibly useful tool, particularly for tutorial videos.  You can add instructions or steps on the screen.  In the demo video I show how to use annotations.

In addition to adding text on the screen, you can add cursor highlights and click rings in the editor area.  This allows you highlight specific on-screen content during video editing.  The image below shows the editing area of the program.

  1. Custom recording field (select the specific area of your screen to be recorded)

Capturing a full screen window is not always desirable.  Perhaps you want to omit the taskbar or webpage tabs across the top of the screen.  Filmora scrn allows you to choose a custom field and capture only the part of your screen you desire.

Use the custom screen capture field when recording a PowerPoint slideshow.  With your slideshow in presenter view, create a custom screen capture field that only records the slides as they are displayed.  Presenter notes remain visable on the screen but not captured by the recording.

Watch the demo video for specific details on set-up for a custom field.  The image below shows a custom screen capture field.  The dotted red lines around the slides will be recorded.

An additional advantage of presenter view is that custom animations, timing and video clips can still be used.  While recording in traditional full screen slide show view is perfectly acceptable, using the presenter view allows you to easily see speaker notes while looking at the computer screen.  If you are capturing webcam at the same time and don’t want to be looking at notes off to the side, this allows you to stay present for the webcam but also have easy access to speaker notes.

The Bottom Line

The power of being able to capture both a quality webcam recording and screen recording simultaneously means that you’ll spend less time recording.  Combined with the powerful editing tools, Filmora scrn takes screen recording to the next level at a budget-friendly price.

Want to join live for my next demo or be notified of new tutorials?  Join my email list to be sure to receive event notices directly to your inbox!



Side-by-side LIVE Facebook Interview with OBS+Zoom

Live video is a powerful tool on social media!   A side-by-side Facebook interview takes the power of video to a new level for your business.

The Benefits of a Facebook Live Interview

Hosting a live side-by-side Facebook interview allows you to collaborate with a colleague and share the spotlight.   It’s a win-win as you can leverage the knowledge of your guest to benefit your audience.  Not to mention, it is easier to have a conversation with another person than just the computer screen!

Tools Available for a LIVE Side-by-side Interview

Facebook offers some support to invite guests to join your LIVE broadcast, but it doesn’t match the power of a broadcasting tool like OBS studioBeLive.tv is a great option but in order to do side-by-side interview that is longer than 20 minutes or screen share, you need a pricey paid plan.  Want to learn about a free option?

I’ve been doing live Q&A interviews on Facebook for the last several months.  In addition to being popular content on social media, I’ve also been able to share this content in a video library format on my website.  Additionally, taking small “snips” from the interview like the one below with Christin Morgan, MS, RDN, creator of the MyDietRebellion Society can be a great teaser to use on social media or to drive traffic to the full video.

 

Check out my 10 minute video tutorial that walks you through the process of using OBS studio and Zoom to do a side-by-side live stream to Facebook.  Give it a try and let me know how you use this tool!

Check out my upcoming live events on Facebook to see this tool in action.  The RD2RD Live show is Wednesdays at 1PM EST!

Join my email list and receive email reminders about upcoming events and links to replays after.

 



4 Strategies to Validate Your Product Idea

Creating a digital product has you excited about the potential for passive income.  You have an idea that you KNOW is going to be a wild success.  How confident are you?  Taking the time to validate your product idea is the key to success!

Why bother with this step?

There are plenty of books in the Kindle store that have no more than a few courtesy purchases from friends and family of the author.

Countless courses full of quality content have negligible enrollment.

The Successful Digital Entrepreneur’s Secret Weapon

Many content creators start with fervent enthusiasm for their product, they have an idea and they create what they think will sell.

This is NOT the way to succeed with a digital product.  Taking the time to validate your product idea BEFORE you spend valuable time and effort creating it, is an essential step that most learn the hard way.  You don’t have to and it’s easier than you think to do.

Validate your Product Idea

A Google search will yield an incredible array of options and recommendations for validating your product idea.  The options can feel a bit overwhelming.  New skills and technology may be required to put them to use.

Don’t retreat to the familiarity of creating your content or seek artificial comfort in unfounded confidence that you KNOW what customers will buy.  Do your homework, pick a strategy and execute. In this article, I discuss 4 options you can consider.

Use Validation to Improve an Existing Product

Dig you launch a digital product but it didn’t generate the sales you desired?  Taking a step back and using validation techniques can help you determine what changes may be needed to drive sales.

Of course, marketing strategy is a key topic here, but investing time and money marketing a product that your audience doesn’t want to buy, isn’t going to work.

Taking a step back and validating that your product is something your customers want and are willing to pay for, is a good idea before doubling down on marketing efforts for an existing product.

Product Validation Approaches

  1. Create a Minimum Viable Product

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a “version of a new product which allows you to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”  This definition provided by Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup points to the importance of spending the least amount of effort needed.

You may think that you need to create an actual product to use this approach.  However, even creating a single page with a description of your idea (include a high-quality video for even greater appeal) and a sign-up form can help you determine customer’s response to your idea.

Take it one step further and ask why the customer is interested in your product.  This approach can yield valuable input as to exactly what your customers want.

Consider providing a link to a survey or creating an automated email asking those that like your idea for more information.  Nurturing a relationship with customers interested in your product is a high reward activity.

A minimum viable product (MVP) probably takes less investment of time than you think, but yields valuable results.  This article gives 10 examples of successful products that used a MVP to validate their idea.

2. Create a Coming Soon Page

One excellent example of an MVP isn’t even a product.  Create a coming soon page describing your e-book, course or toolkit.  Describe the pain points it solves and create a compelling argument for why your specific approach or content is the solution.  Allow visitors to the page to provide their email address to get more information or be notified about your product when it launches.

A coming soon page allows you to test the waters and gauge interest in your product.  It is easy to change and update this page in order to determine what message your target audience responds to best.  This article by Neil Patel goes into detail about coming soon pages and how to optimize them.

You likely selected your product to solve a common question, problem or pain point.  If you are a member of groups, listservs or other online communities/social media relevant to your product topic (and you should be), these are fertile grounds for product validation.  When the question or problem is expressed, you can easily share your page and build you interest list.

From this list you can start to gather important information about what your target customers want and can create a successful product.  Validate your product by telling people about it!

I used this approach for RD2RD and created a coming soon page.  I had identified that sharing digital resources was a pain point for RDNs.  More times than I could count, I saw requests like “Does anyone have a (handout, form, policy, tool, etc)?” on listservs and social media.

Many RDNs were willing to share their resources and others even sold resources on their individual websites.  A barrier to wider adoption of selling digital resources was both time and technology.  My landing page highlighted these barriers and offered a description of a new option, a marketplace that offered convenience and broader exposure for RD-created digital products.

3. Analyze Your Competition

While it goes without saying that your product will be superior and more desirable than anything else out there on the market, you need to survey the competition.  You’ve seen those home shows where a couple is completely unrealistic about the value of their home.  They mistakenly think specific choices they’ve made will appeal to a wide audience.  Watching a seasoned real estate agent deliver the unwelcome truth can be a painful experience.

You need to do the equivalent of a comparative market analysis for your digital product.  What else is out there on the market?  What is the price?  How often is the topic searched for?

Don’t stop there, browse the social media accounts of competitors.  Just as you might attend an open house of a property in your neighborhood or look through pictures a home similar to yours online, this is the exact approach you should take to validate your product idea.  Learn as much as you can about the market.  How can you expect to develop a successful product without understanding your competition and the market?

I took this approach for RD2RD.  There wasn’t a specific “competitor” marketplace available for RDs.  However, I looked to other similar marketplaces.  One in particular that provide me with the most valuable insight was TeachersPayTeachers.  Teacher authors buy and sell resources they’ve created for their own use to each other.  Everything from first day of school desk signs to math curriculum for the entire year.  This marketplace has been incredibly successful.

4. Pre-Sell Your Product

This approach may seem intimidating.  Selling a product before you’ve even spent time developing it seems risky.  However, this approach allows you to see if your audience is willing to PAY for the product you are developing.  It is the ultimate technique to validate your product.

Perhaps you’ve built an email list via your coming soon page and with relevant freebie opt-ins.  You can offer an early bird price and provide a specific date in the future when the product will be available.  If sales/interest in your product don’t warrant development, you can refund purchases and save yourself a great deal of time developing a product.

One of the added benefits of pre-selling is that it forces you to consider the marketing aspects of your product.  You must consider how you are going to nurture the relationship with your email list, develop a plan for your launch and perhaps even host a webinar or other marketing approach.

Alternatively, it may have you identifying key leaders in you niche and reaching out to determine how you might be able to get your product in front of their audience.  These are lessons and strategies you will need to have a successful product.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve identified a product idea, take time to validate that your product is something people are willing to pay for.  Consider a coming soon page, research your competition and even pre-selling your product.  These actions will both offer you insight into your customers wants and allow you to build and launch a product that you KNOW will sell!

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Click here or enter your email, below!



How to Sell Digital Products from your Website

Does choosing a shopping cart to sell digital products on your website have you throwing your hands up at the array of options?  Are you wondering how others create store pages or have links to sell products in their blog posts?

The shopping cart options for your website are numerous and can be dizzying, but you don’t have to spend an eternity sorting out the differences.  Making a great selection that meets your needs at the right price is attainable.  I’m here to help and have done some of the hard work for you.

In my recent post, I reviewed four popular options (GumRoad, e-Junkie, DPD and Easy Digital Downloads), including their key features and pricing structure.  Be sure to read this article to get a broad understanding of how these shopping carts work, and their unique features and benefits.  In a nutshell, they allow you sell products from your website and facilitate both payment and delivery of the digital product to the customer.  They are often referred to as third-party hosting options as your digital products are hosted on a site other than your own.

Most articles you read tell you about a product, but the author may or may not have experience or insight into the product or service as an actual user.  My prior article provides details but little insight into actual experience using these shopping cart options.   I did speak to my personal experience using Easy Digital Downloads, and yes, I’m a raving fan (see my full review of EDD here), but didn’t have firsthand experience using the other shopping cart options I featured.

This article is a firsthand account from RDNs that are real users of popular options and explores how and why they made their choice, and their experience using the program.  You might be surprised at what you read and find yourself motivated and ready to select a great fit for you!

Meet the Experts:

Chrissy Carroll, MPH, RDN, ACSM-cPT (http://snackinginsneakers.com) utilizes E-Junkie to sell and deliver her digital products.  Check out her store page featuring a 28-day Nutrition Challenge, here.

Lindsay Livingston, RDN (http://theleangreenbean.com) utilizes GumRoad to sell and deliver her digital products.  Check out her Ultimate Food Prep Guide, here.

Betsy Ramirez, M.Ed, RDN (http://betsyramirez.com) utilizes DPD to sell and deliver her digital products.  Check out her store page featuring a food video planner, here.

The Shopping Cart Comparison Interview Questions:

Is your website built on Worpress.org, SquareSpace, Wix or something else?

Chrissy (E-Junkie), Lindsay (GumRoad) and Betsy (DPD): WordPress.org

What additional option(s) did you consider before choosing the shopping cart you decided on?

Chrissy (E-Junkie): I heard about E-Junkie from a Facebook Group I was in and saw that it was inexpensive and would serve the purpose I needed.  I sometimes struggle with “analysis paralysis” mode, so I decided to instead just go with the first thing that I knew would work for me (and figured I could always change later if needed!).

Lindsay (GumRoad):  I used E-Junkie for a while and found it to be not very user-friendly, very clunky and outdated and not easy to use.

Betsy (DPD): Ease of use and set up were my biggest considerations. Price per month was my last consideration.

What was the most important aspect of the shopping cart option you choose (i.e. cost, ease of installation, flexibility/functionality)?

Chrissy (E-Junkie): The most important aspect was the ability to do automatic digital delivery at an inexpensive cost.  When I first signed up for E-Junkie, I didn’t have nearly as much web traffic as I do now, so I didn’t want to spend tons of money on a service when I wasn’t sure how many sales I’d have.  Since E-Junkie was only $5/month, it was a great low cost investment – I knew I wouldn’t feel anxious about losing money each month if I didn’t have as many sales as I anticipated.

Lindsay (GumRoad): Something simple that even a non-techie person that could set up, an easy way to add discount codes and and easy way to collect emails and be notified when people purchase.

Betsy (DPD): Ease of installation

Did you set up the shopping cart on your website yourself or hire/use web expert?

Chrissy (E-Junkie): I set it up myself.  E-Junkie makes it easy by providing a code for the shopping cart that integrates right in with PayPal for payment.  It’s as easy as copying and pasting it in your website HTML.  There are no fancy bells & whistles like perhaps you get in some other customized cart solutions, but I find it works just fine!

Lindsay (GumRoad):  I did the initial setup myself. After a while, I started working with a tech person and she built me an improved page to sell my ebooks but it wasn’t necessary…just an improvement.

Betsy (DPD): I did it myself. That was why I chose it.

How many digital products do you sell?  What type of products?

Chrissy (E-Junkie): Using E-Junkie, I currently sell my 30-day nutrition challenge e-book, as well as my PinSmart course (a Pinterest course for fellow RDs).  When someone purchases either, they get an email with the product (the pdf of the e-book, or the login info for my course) and I get notification of purchase/payment.

Lindsay (GumRoad): Ebooks. I have 3 available right now.

Betsy (DPD): I have 5 products for sale on my site. They are all nutrition education and 1 on food video.

What is one thing you wish you had known before selecting the option you choose to sell your digital products?

Chrissy (E-Junkie): not applicable (just went for it)

Lindsay (GumRoad): Nothing! I’ve been quite happy with it.

Betsy (DPD): I wish I would have been more knowledgeable about the affiliate program.

What types of reports, sales statistics are available and how do you use them?

Chrissy (E-Junkie): You can view transaction logs that are able to be sorted by product type as well as custom date ranges.

Lindsay (GumRoad): Honestly, I rarely look at statistics, but there are lots available, you can see how many of each ebook is sold during different time ranges, specific days, separate email lists based on who purchased what, etc.

Betsy (DPD): I get a monthly sales report to my inbox. I am also notified for each sale I make. I will have to use the sales reports to report income on my taxes.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with the shopping cart service you selected?

Chrissy (E-Junkie): (1) It’s really easy to create discount codes in E-Junkie if you wish to run a special on a product.  For example, on Black Friday I ran a special for 50% off my PinSmart course.  You can set things like expiration dates, max number of uses, a flat rate or a percentage rate discount, etc.   (2) The platform allows you to set up an affiliate program for your products!  I have an affiliate program for my course, and E-Junkie tracks all the affiliate sales.  Each month I just run a report that tells me how much to pay my affiliates.  You do have to manually pay out everything, but for $5/month, a built-in affiliate option is amazing regardless.

Lindsay (GumRoad): Definitely worth it if you’re looking to sell something. The website is nice and modern, clean, user-friendly and they have great support if you have issues.  Also, you can easily create discount codes for individual products and you can also set people up as affliiates and set the % commission they make!

Betsy (DPD): There are several options available. I would make sure you also check the affiliate programs within the platforms. You also must balance the ease of use and set up. If it’s not easy enough to set up yourself, it may not be worth it.

Take the Next Step with Confidence!

If you are considering selling digital products, adding a shopping cart to your website that will allow doesn’t have to be complicated.   E-Junkie, GumRoad and DPD are options you should consider, as they are easy to set-up.  In addition to selling from your website, consider getting your products in front of a broader audience and selling on a marketplace site.  RD2RD is a marketplace site exclusively for RDNs and NDTRs to buy / sell / share original content to each other, health professionals and the public.  Check out my article on the differences between selling direct vs. a marketplace site and if RD2RD is a good choice for you.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Click here or enter your email, below!



sell digital products

4 “Smart Choice” Options to Sell Digital Products from Your Website

Choosing the best option for selling your digital products can feel like an overwhelming task.  There are many options and it can be difficult to determine which is the best fit for the products you wish to sell.  If you are looking to sell digital products from your website, this list is for you.  It breaks down a number of popular options guiding you to a “smart choice” for your digital products.

Gumroad

This option hosts and delivers your digital item to the customer and handles payment as well.  It is extremely simple to use and within 15 minutes, you can be set-up selling digital products.  For each product, you create a landing page (which does allow video) and customers leave your website to complete the purchase.

While the simplicity is an excellent choice for those that want a solution that is easy to set-up, some may find the inflexibility to be a downside.  The pricing for the free version is 8.5% + $0.30 per transaction.  Additional premium membership with lower fees is available. This is an excellent option if you do not want to add a shopping cart functionality to your website or have a very small number of items to sell.

Gumroad also offers the capability to sell subscriptions and offer an affiliate program.  If you are looking to get started right now, have only a few products or expect low revenue, Gumroad may be a great option.  As your sales increase, adding a shopping cart to your website to reduce the fees would be practical.  If you like the idea of a 3rd party hosting the files as well as taking care of the payment, also look at SendOwl.

E-Junkie

If you are looking to add a shopping cart to your website and want a more flexible process for designing your sales pages, E-junkie may be the best option for you.  It is a hosted shopping cart solution that allows you to create “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” buttons and place them anywhere you want on your website using html code.

Similar to Gumroad, it hosts your files, but to accept payment, you need to set it up to use a payment processor or payment gateway (i.e. Stripe/Paypal).  If you are fairly savvy at managing your website and want the flexibility to create pages and add links to purchase products, this could be the best fit for you.  The checkout experience feels integrated with your website.

The pricing for e-Junkie depends on the number of products you wish to have and the size of the files. In addition to the monthly fee charged by e-Junkie, you will also pay the fees from your payment processor/gateway.  If you have a large number of products or files that are very large (videos, photos), this will require a larger monthly fee.  E-junkie does not offer recurring payments if you are looking to sell a subscription service.

E-junkie is an excellent choice if you want a low cost option, have just a few products and want to be able to have a lot of flexibility with how you design your site as you can place the purchase buttons nearly anywhere on your site.   E-junkie offers a 7 day free trial.

DPD (Digital Product Delivery)

This digital product delivery option combines many of the best features of the first two into one shopping cart solution.  DPD’s pricing is a flat monthly fee and the lowest pricing tier of $10/month gives you 1GB of storage and 20 products.  The pricing is a flat fee with no additional per-sale fees.  DPD hosts your files and allows you to connect the payment processors of your choice.

While this option is not as budget-friendly as e-Junkie, it is very comprehensive and offers many of the features that would only be available with a shopping cart installed on your website including an affiliate program.  One of the most important aspects of DPD is that they strive to create an easy-to-use shopping cart solution.  Their tools and resources are incredibly easy-to-understand, even if you are not a technology wizard.

DPD allows you to create custom “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” buttons as well as sell bundles of products as well as services and physical products.  For books, the pdf stamper allows you stamp with the buyer’s details and encrypt them to prevent copying text.  If you are considering selling e-books or want to be able to create bundled products that include services along with digital goods, this is a choice you should consider. DPD offers a free, 30-day trial.

Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads is a free shopping cart plugin for WordPress.  If you are familiar with using the backend of a WordPress site, this can be very convenient as you can easily manage all aspects of you sales from the same place.  EDD is free which means that there are no monthly fees to use the plugin.  The only fees you pay are transaction fees associated with payment processing.  However, the plugin does offer many premium extension and you will likely end up purchasing a few to add additional functionality.   For example, if you want to sell subscriptions, you need the recurring payment extension which comes at a cost of $199/year (30% renewal discount).  With EDD, you host your own files and integrate with payment processors directly.  This means that your website must have an SSL certificate and you are responsible for all payment related aspects.  EDD offers the most flexibility and if you are looking to have a number of products, very large files (videos) or want to have complete control over all aspects of the shopping cart, EDD is your best choice.   Read my full review and watch my video tour of Easy Digital Downloads here.

Make the “Smart Choice” for Your Website:

Choosing the best e-commerce solution to sell digital downloads on your website can feel like a challenging task.  Taking into consideration the number of products, storage needed, your skills with website design and maintenance will help you to make the “smart choice.”

Check out the second article in this series about selling digital products from your website, which features an interview with RDNs that currently use the digital product delivery services described above.  They break down their experience using each and decision making proces..

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Click here or enter your email, below!



How to know if selling on a marketplace site is right for you?

There are two main ways to sell your digital downloads.  You can sell direct to your customers via your website or you can sell your items on a marketplace site.  Or, you can do both!

What are the advantages of selling direct?  The most obvious advantage is that you earn more or avoid fees associated with a marketplace site.   However, a direct sales approach requires that you market your product and create a process for payment and delivery of the purchased product to your customers.  Driving traffic to your website or product can be difficult, and for this reason, many sellers choose to list their products on a marketplace site.  To demonstrate the business rationale for choosing a marketplace site, consider that Amazon’s Kindle store has 80% of the e-book market.  If you choose not to place your e-book for sale in the Kindle store, your book will get far less exposure.  Taking time to consider the potential increase in your sales, compared with the fees charged, will help you to decide whether to sell your e-book on Kindle.

Marketplace websites are popular with customers because they offer an easy way to shop from more than one seller.  Shoppers looking for a particular item can visit one site and easily compare prices, features and read reviews.  Customers expect to be able to shop from multiple sellers simultaneously, and marketplace sites are widely available to meet this need.  For example, when you shop popular travel websites to book a hotel or flight, most of these sites feature options from many different sellers.   A marketplace website offers the convenience of a comprehensive selling platform in return for fees charged to sellers.  The structure for each marketplace site, as well as how/what fees are charged vary, so looking carefully at the cost will make sure you select the best fit for your product.

The most common reason for listing your items on a marketplace site is to broaden the exposure of your product and increase sales.  An example of a highly successful and popular marketplace site is Etsy.  Sellers on Etsy have their own store and can directly message customers to coordinate custom orders.  There are detailed reviews available about listed products as well as a convenient dashboard for sellers to manage their store.   These features offer convenience for the seller and eliminate the need to invest time and money into building in a stand-alone website for a direct sales approach.  Sellers can focus on developing new products or inventory of the products they have for sale.  Etsy is an excellent example of a highly successful marketplace that offers convenience for both buyers and sellers.

A marketplace example which is highly relevant to RDNs, is the digital goods marketplace site, teacherspayteachers.com.  It allows teacher authors to sell their original materials.  What stands out about this marketplace is that it was developed primarily as a peer-to-peer marketplace.   In their regular work, teachers develop a considerable number of resources. This marketplace has provided a way to monetize their wisdom and benefit their colleagues as well.  It is a remarkable example of a sharing community that provides benefit beyond the generation of income for sellers.

In addition to exposing your product to a broader audience and increasing sales, marketplace sites typically conduct advertising and provide comprehensive strategies to convert sales including following up on abandoned carts and email marketing to customers. These sites also eliminate costs you incur to develop and manage a website if you do not chose to sell your products direct.  The services provided by a marketplace are paid for by the fees charged to sellers.  Etsy for example, charges a listing fee for each item and then when you sell an item, a transaction fee and processing fee are assessed.

Generating passive income from your digital products is best achieved by getting your product out to a broad audience of potential buyers.  A marketplace site achieves this and offers convenience, as well.  The fees associated with selling on a marketplace site should be considered along with the potential for increase in sales.  Selling direct as well as leveraging a marketplace site may be your best option.



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