For this month’s blogging update, I’m going to focus on one particular thing this August that’s a whole big thing in itself: pre-selling my first digital product on my blog!
I launched The Goal-Getter Playbook, a special weekly planner designed for setting goals and following through with them, for pre-orders with no ads, no expenses, and – most notable of all – no product. So if you want to see exactly how I did that (and why), then read on to see my thought-and-action process!
Pre-selling products: the whats, whys, and hows
For many bloggers and business owners, pre-selling products and services seems pretty scary. I mean, you’re about to sell something without having whatever it is ready for people! Nowadays, the world thrives on instant gratification – will anyone actually want to pay for a product before it’s even out?
My short answer? Yes. 🙂
And in case you’re still a little foggy about what pre-selling is, here’s how I’d define it: pre-selling products means making sales without the actual products on hand.
There are a couple reasons why you’d want to try pre-selling products on your blog or biz:
You don’t put in the work for nothing
Imagine this: putting in all these hours, effort, dollah bills, and whatever-else-have-you into creating what you think is the “most perfect product of all time, yes!!!” But when launch season comes…
Bummer, ain’t it?
But when you pre-sell your product or service before even creating it, you’re making sure people actually want to buy what you’re putting out. And that’s already a huge in itself!
In my case, when I put out The Goal-Getter Playbook on its pre-selling period, I made pre-orders right away. Remember: this was my very first product! I had no idea if it was going to sell. All I had were a crazy bunch of assumptions and an urge to get something out to market.
And because I knew I didn’t want to waste countless hours building and creating and designing a planner that I wasn’t sure my readers even wanted, I wanted to build demand for my product before I put in the work for it.
Pre-selling lets you make your product exactly what your customers are looking for
Here’s a cool little tip: when you’re pre-selling products for your blog or biz, and you get that first pre-order, don’t just pop open a bottle of champagne and celebrate.
Go the extra mile and ask people why they ordered your product in the first place.
In a little bit, I’ll walk you through the exact process I followed when pre-selling The Goal-Getter Playbook, but one important reason I wanted to put this product up for pre-order was so I could ask my customers exactly how I could design the planner to be perfect for them.
This is a huge win-win for both you and your customers – you find out how to make your product the best thing ever, yes! while they can be sure whatever they bought is going to be super-freakin’ awesome.
For The Goal-Getter Playbook, I was able to send a couple emails to the people who pre-ordered to hop on a call with me. Of course, I offered something in return.
(For the curious among you, I offered free 60-minute strategy calls on goal-setting and routine-building to be your 100% most productive, goal-slaying self!)
The interviews were useful since they helped me understand what it was my readers needed the most help in. I’d already had a couple assumptions in place, so doing the interviews just helped me find that, yep, my readers have these problems. So it was my job to help!
And one last reason I’d do pre-selling products over and over again?
It makes a pretty good reason to show up and do the work
I always say having accountability for your goals is a huge help to actually achieve them. And actually getting pre-orders for my workbook and planner was the ultimate accountability system I needed to show up and do the work.
If you need a little fire to light up under your butt, read my post on the one reason you’re not getting stuff done. I also tell you how to use what I call the 10-minute rule to build up your productivity every day. 😉
Now I know you’re pretty much itching to seeing my step-by-step pre-selling roadmap, so let’s started.
Step 1: Validate your idea
Pre-selling products will only work if you know that there’s a real need for it.
I mentioned a couple times that I had some assumptions about my readers’ problems. These assumptions led me to think that, maybe, a planner that was dedicated to goal-setting and follow-through would be a great product to help.
When you need to validate your idea, first list down some of the key assumptions you have. To make this easier, ask yourself this question:
What are my readers biggest problems?
Needless to say, you want this related to your blog or biz niche. There are a few things at the top of my head that I’d use to help me come up with these assumptions:
- Your most popular blog posts
- Observing your most popular opt-in freebie (spoiler: this is what helped me most!)
- Your most-opened newsletter
- Going back to questions your readers have asked you in the past
- Your own experience – what are struggles your readers are facing that you went through 1-2 years ago?
For The Goal-Getter Playbook, the idea came from me noticing that my most popular opt-in freebie on my blog was this Find Your Next Big Focus workbook, designed to help anyone with too many goals, passions, and interests to zoom in on just one big thing to focus on for a while.
Here’s what my opt-in form for that looks like:
This freebie alone doubled my email subscribers in just one month. I was ecstatic! But instead of popping open a bottle of rosé, I figured that this was telling me something very important about my readers:
They needed help to find their focus.
I figured focus can be related to goals – and I love helping people be their most productive selves. Why couldn’t I help people set and follow through with their goals too?
So when you’re pre-selling products on your blog, make sure to pay attention to anything that might tip you off. Then use this information to come up with solid assumptions.
What to do after coming up with assumptions
Once you’ve got your assumptions down pat, it’s time to put them to the test!
By now, you’ll want to do problem interviews to see if your assumptions are true.
I’ll be the first to admit that I did this step after launching my pre-order sales page. However, I’d already had some strong hints that selling a goal-setting planner and workbook would help my readers, so I went with my gut and launched!
But if you have more reason to doubt the demand for your product or service, then you’ll want to really dig deep with your readers. Find their real problems, so that when you come out with a product or service, they’ll be all, “Yes, yes, YES!!!” once you’ve launched.
How do you know if your idea is validated?
If your interview results show that your assumptions were, in fact, true to at least 60% of the people you interviewed, then congratulations!
That’s a great sign that you should be pre-selling your product right now.
Related: How to Start a Blogging Side Hustle
Create a winning sales page
When it comes to pre-selling products or services and whatever-have-yous on your blog, you’re going to need a sales page. There are a ton of places to find resources on this, so I’ll just walk you through all the basics.
Elements of a good sales page
One good test to see if your sales page is clear is to have someone, maybe a friend, look at it for about 10 seconds to see if they already know what it is you’re selling.
So one way to make sure of that is to have a benefit-driven headline to tell potential buyers what it is they can get.
Here’s the exact headline I used in The Goal-Getter Playbook’s sales page:
Consumer pain points
Highlight what exactly your customers might be struggling with. (Hint: you might want to use their exact words from the interviews you conducted.)
On my sales page, I highlight these particular pain points or problems:
Pain point aggravation
If you want, show readers of your sales page what happens if they don’t get to solve these problems. Why should they be trying to get rid of these pain points now?
Solution (that’s you!)
Now introduce yourself as the solution to these problems! After all, pre-selling products actually means pre-selling.
You can use words like “Introducing” to kick things off.
Here’s a look at how I segued to The Goal-Getter Playbook after naming my readers’ pain points:
Your offer’s features or benefits
Tell your readers exactly what they get from you. Since you’re just pre-selling products here, you might be tempted to be mysterious and keep things hush-hush – but don’t.
Name exactly what they get out of buying your product. Outline any features you know will help them. Enumerate all the benefits from using your product.
Here are the features of The Goal-Getter Playbook that I showed off in my pre-selling period:
Now you want people to actually know how to order, right? Sprinkle your sales page with call-to-action buttons!
You’ve put in a lot of effort making your picture-perfect sales page. Time to make it count!
Now, it might be hard to include some testimonials about your product if you haven’t launched it yet. But is there somebody you can give the product to for a beta test? Or is your product a manifestation of some other service you offer?
Here’s the testimonial I put up for the planner, from a CEO I worked with on a one-on-one goal-setting strategy session.
The one-on-one goal-setting sessions I offer are definitely the basis for The Goal-Getter Playbook, so Elena’s testimonial was perfect, as it touched on my personal goal-setting strategy and the ways she’s benefitted from it.
I’ve also gotten more testimonials along the way, and I’ve made it a point to include them in my sales page too.
Wanna see my full sales page in action? Click here!
Present visual mockups or samples
When you’re pre-selling products online, you need to get people to see your product in the most tangible possible.
So throw in some essential mock-ups and photos!
If design work isn’t your forte, you can always outsource. But the important thing is you show people what the product looks like or what’s inside.
Here, you can see a bunch of sample pages of The Goal-Getter Playbook. I was sure to show them off to my readers and keep them sprinkled around my sales page:
Have a sales funnel
To actually be successful in pre-selling products, you’re going to want a handy sales funnel. What this means is how you direct readers from being aware of all the cool things you do all the way to building their trust and getting them to buy from you.
Pretty sweet, huh?
Here’s a super simple sales funnel at the top of my head:
Blog post –> Opt-in freebie –> Welcome emails –> Nurture emails –> Educate emails –> Sales emails
Pre-sell your product to your email list
I mentioned that I spent $0 when I opened up The Goal-Getter Playbook for pre-orders. This was because my goal for selling the planner was to actually raise the funds I needed to invest in better tools, particularly Convertkit.
Before I was on Convertkit though, I used MailChimp as my email service provider. In fact, MailChimp was my email marketing provider for my entire pre-selling period.
I got to learn how to set up multiple opt-ins on MailChimp while keeping all my subscribers in just one list (the holy grail). There were also some fantastic bonuses on how to write an awesome welcome series, as well as ebooks on email marketing for beginners.
And the reason you’d want to pitch your pre-orders to your email list is simple: you’ve already got a valuable thing from them – their emails!
You’re hitting their Inbox, getting their attention, and nurturing them enough to trust you and want to buy from you.
How cool is that?
Oh, and don’t ever forget what I love to say over and over and over again:
Your money is in your list!
Promote your sales page on Pinterest
Pinterest is a huge gold mine for all things free traffic. Put up some pins that redirect people to your sales page, and keep re-pinning them!
Here’s the pin I put out on Pinterest:
One thing I used to fast track my Pinterest game was this inexpensive 75-minute long masterclass. I learned how to properly set up my account on Pinterest, how to increase my followers (I’ve got 1,000 and counting!), as well as how to create pins that get clicks, conversions, and shares.
Other courses cost nearly $1,000 for the same content, so I’m so glad I stumbled upon this affordable masterclass instead!
Develop your product – then release it to the world!
So you’re now raking in pre-orders, huh? Fabulous job, you future world-changer you!
Now it’s time to gather information from the people who did the pre-order, ask them how you can solve their problems 105%, and develop your product to meet their exact needs.
Depending on the product you need to make, you may or may not want to hire some virtual assistants to help you make things happen.
Gosh, isn’t pre-selling products just so exciting? Look at that money coming into your bank account! 😉
Things I would have done better (my next experiments!)
Now of course every experiment has its ups and downs. And I’m here to share exactly what I would have done better during my first pre-sell period. I want you to learn from my mistakes, so check out the things I’d do differently when I’m pre-selling products next time:
Added more Pinterest promotions
Admittedly, I only had one pin to promote The Goal-Getter Playbook. While I know I made some new sales on Pinterest, I’d like to wonder how much more I would have reached if I added in some different pins with varying designs.
Include more emails in my sales sequence
I sent a grand total of 3 emails to promote The Goal-Getter Playbook. And I’d had a 2-week pre-selling period, so I know now that I definitely should have sent more!
While people are generally worried that sending more emails might lead to more unsubscribers, there’s still a way to keep these sales emails valuable, whether or not someone decides to purchase.
Sent out actual product samples
One experiment I would want to do next time is to send a PDF sample of certain pages of the planner, just so people get a sneak peek of what to expect. While mock-ups and everything were fine, I still wonder how my conversion rates might have increased if I’d sent exclusive samples of the planner’s actual pages to people.
Overall: What I’ve learned
It’s a pretty well-known fact that there’s a 1-3% average conversion rate when you sell something to your email list. That means, if you have 100 subscribers, at least 1 person is going to buy into your product.
From this whole first pre-selling products experiment, I managed to hit an average of at least 2% conversion. I started with a small list (about 1,000 people), spent nothing on social media ads, and just relied on making sales from the people in my list.
So there you go! My entire simple process during my first product launch.
But I don’t want you to leave empty-handed, so here’s a copy of my Problem Interview Script for when you want to validate your product ideas to customers! Be sure to grab your copy and get pre-sellin’.