How to Prep for Your First Digital Product

What to do before you start building

Read Time: 6 mins
(or listen to this issue)

In last week’s deep dive, you learned the twists and turns that led New Haircut to discover digital products that drove passive income. That steady, additional income stream gave us peace of mind that cash was coming in each month.

We reinvested that cash back into our services, fueling healthy, sustainable growth that didn’t resemble me working around the clock to make ends meet.

If you just joined or missed last week’s post, it will give you some helpful background for the next few posts — a 4-part series where we’re rolling up our sleeves to lay out a complete playbook you’ll use to build your first digital product.

The 4-part Your First Product Series includes:

By the end of today’s post, you’ll have clarity on:

  1. Why so many consultants struggle to get started

  2. Popular digital products types to choose from

  3. How to pick the right first product to build

Then in the next post, you’ll see exactly how I built my first digital product so you can reverse engineer the process for yourself.

Here goes.

How to Prep for Your First Digital Product - Passive Profits

When I built my first digital product, I was all over the place. I had zero prior experience.

I also had no plan. I built it on my own, in fits and spurts while also running my company. Because of that shaky start, the process took me the better part of 8 weeks. But the next one took me 3 weeks.

In today’s post, I’ll get you started so that your first product goes more smoothly than mine.

We’ll cover the foundational steps that’ll bring you from 0 to 1 — starting with getting you past the same questions and doubts that hold most consultants back from beginning.

1. Why many consultants struggle to get started

If you read my post, How New Haircut Grew its Profits 1,353% with One Digital Product, you probably noticed that it took years for me to pull the trigger on my first digital product.

Not because I didn’t want to. I was simply unaware it was an option. But even once I began developing clues, fear of the unknown kept me stuck in quicksand.

I still remember mulling over early ideas to digitize one of New Haircut’s in-person training programs. There’s a ton of complexity around the topics we taught. A skilled trainer had always been required to coach the learner through the material.

My main blocker was that, when it came to a digital download of my training programs, I didn’t know what good looked like.

I eventually built out a downloadable PDF. I spent a couple of weeks organizing all of the content, instructions, and templates. And then when the time came to publish it… I stalled again.

I was afraid our customers would massacre us. And so there it sat for two years until I eventually had enough customer validation to proceed.

I share that story because I know that the fear of the unknown has held you, me, and every other consultant back from taking the leap.

So how do we flip the switch to move past it?

By creating enough energy and momentum, where the pain of not acting becomes greater than the pain of trying and failing.

Moving past fear with success stories

Nothing short-circuits a fear of failing more than seeing others scaling the same mountain we’re staring up at.

Success stories show us that success is possible. They give us a sense of what good looks like.

Here are a few service-based consultants building their flywheel with digital products:

  • The Founder of marketing agency, Revenue Zen, created the 7-Figure Social Selling Course to reach customers not yet ready for their premium marketing services

  • The Co-Founder of Evrygreen, a LinkedIn coaching agency, created Evrygreen’s AI Course to help new and existing customers solve an adjacent problem of leveraging AI for business development

  • Kate Klassen, Co-Founder of Coastal Drone, created certification programs and courses to compliment her in-person consulting and training services.

And while Passive Profits exists to help businesses, there is also NO shortage of 7-figure success stories from individual creators leveraging digital products.

I hope these stories leave you feeling less anxious about building your first digital product.

For many more stories about service business consultants driving growth with digital products, keep following along for our consultant deep dives.

And with that, it’s time for step #2 in your pre-build checklist: Picking which type of digital product you’ll build.

First, let’s get super clear on what we mean by a “digital product.”

Personally, when I hear digital product, the first thing that comes to mind is a website or mobile app. That view is likely biased from spending 25 years working in tech. And while those are digital products, they’re not our focus.

Those kind of digital products require larger budgets and product/tech professionals (e.g. designers, engineers, etc). There could be a very good reason for your company to invest in such bespoke tech. But that’s outside the scope of what we’re covering today.

The digital products we’re discussing:
  • Do not require deep technical skills (e.g. coding)

  • Can be built with free/inexpensive tools, by one person

  • Can be built in as little as a day or two - less is more for product #1

  • Can be built for a budget of <$100

  • Exist online: downloadable or streaming

So that leaves the following product types that we’ll focus us on within this newsletter:

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