The Chicken or the Egg – which came first? Scientists, philosophers, and groups of friends that just ordered their 11th round of beers all had their go at coming up with an answer.
In recent days, the ancient question has gotten a modern-day equivalent.
Content or product – which should come first?
There are online guru’s and know-it-alls (and a few Don’t-Know-It-All-At-Alls) on both sides.
Some believe that you should start building an email list, by creating great pieces of content. By doing that, you’ll be able to gather a following which can be used when you then build and launch your product or service.
Others – the side to which I recently switch – say that you should have something to sell before you start marketing yourself and building an email list.
After spending 24 hectic hours writing an e-book AND putting it up for sale, I have realized there are a few really interesting things that
An educational e-product (e-book, video course, PDF-templates, audiobook, etc) will give any kind of creative freelancer huge advantage on her
It will make it so much easier to create content!
Great content (like blog posts, Youtube videos, podcast episodes, etc) all have one thing in common: they solve a problem for your potential clients.
You don’t want everyone to read your blog. There’s no use. You want the right people to find your blog post.
But who is the right person then?
Someone that fits the criteria to become your client. If you are a graphic designer working with magazines you want to reach Art Directors, not design students.
On the other hand, if you teach graphic design by creating and selling video courses, your perfect customer isn’t art directors at fancy magazines but creatives looking for ways to become better at graphic design.
As I said before; great content solves a problem for your typical potential client – and so should any digital product that you sell! The difference is that the digital product is more thorough and therefore you can charge for it.
So by creating a digital product, you know the bigger problem that you can solve for your potential customers – which makes it easier to create free content.
You give more people the possibility to pay for your services
Freelance services are usually a premium product. An hour of work from any kind of freelancer will usually start at 50 to 100 dollars. And that is for someone that hasn’t been in the business for very long.
When a freelancer gain experience, getting paid thousands of dollars per hour is quite possible (even though I believe charging per hour isn’t a very good thing to do…).
So, not everyone can afford it. Paying 10 000 dollars for a creative coach or a web designer is perfectly fine for some people and companies. But for every client that can actually afford it, there’re a hundred that can’t.
A digital product can give those people a way to pay for your knowledge without breaking the bank!
Instead of selling the premium 1-on-1 coaching, you could offer a 7-day video course that will help your customer to improve in one specific area of their life.
Instead of paying you to create an entire website, you could give sell the step-by-step guide to setting up a website with WordPress or Squarespace!
It might feel like you are losing a big client by giving them a cheaper solution, but trust me. Some people want someone else to do it for them and some people would never pay that much for someone else to solve their problem.
You create another step in your product ladder
When someone signs up for your mailing list, they are actually paying you with their email address. This is the first and very important transaction for you.
It is actually much easier to get an existing client to buy another service or product than it is to convey someone that never bought anything from you to pay for a service.
But, the step from paying with an email address to get a downloadable PDF to liquidate thousands of dollars for your freelancing service is quite a step.
This is why it is great to have a Product Ladder, i.e. a range of product or services ranging from cheap (or free) to premium.
A downloadable e-book could go for $15, a video course for $49 and 1-on-1 Skype call for $190. Do you see what I mean?
By giving your customer the possibility to invest as much as his trust for you allows, you can show that you are worth his money!
In the end, having something to sell before creating content will make your life a lot easier! Not only do you know who you are trying to reach, but you also know where you want to steer them after they’ve found your content – i.e. towards buying your product!