3 reasons that hiring a virtual assistant can cost less than you expect

On your path to building a successful momstyle business, you will figure out how to absorb the cost of a virtual assistant. It’s not so much a manner of if as it is of when.

A virtual assistant is a person you hire on a contract basis to manage ongoing tasks in your business, from setting up your newsletter to providing customer service, to sharing your message on social media. A virtual assistant is going to help you create more flexibility in your business and will free up your time to be creating new digital products and enhance your online marketing system.

While it’s easy to think that hiring a virtual assistant is going to cost a lot of money, many business owners are surprised at just how affordable getting help is. Most wish that they would have started sooner rather than later.

Let’s look at 3 reasons that hiring a virtual assistant can cost less than you expect. Inside each reason, you’ll also learn how to structure your first VA agreement so that it fits within your budget.

#1 – Hiring a virtual assistant can cost less because the work may take them less time than it takes you

When we think about outsourcing, it’s natural to think that someone else, who isn’t familiar with your business, is going to require more time to do a task, and that it will be faster to just do it yourself. In my experience, this isn’t the case. More often, it takes my virtual assistant less time to do something than it would take me to do it.

One reason this happens is because we take the time to work through our business processes. Sometimes it’s because my VA has expertise I don’t have, and knows the faster way to accomplish a goal.

Another reason is that sometimes it’s not the work itself that makes a task difficult, but the emotional attachment you have to it as a business owner. A VA will not have the same angst about a task that you would experience. For example, while you are setting up your newsletter, you might be worried about whether you got a particular phrasing right, how the message will be received by your readers, and what your opt-out rate is going to be. Your VA on the other hand, focuses just on the task.

This means that even if you can only afford to outsource 1-2 hours per week, you could potentially free up 3-4 hours of your time for other activities that will help start your new business.

#2 – Hiring a virtual assistant can cost less than you expect because the rates can be lower than you think

Hourly or package costs for virtual assistants vary widely. I’ve seen VAs inside the US charging as low as $15/hour. You can get an even lower rate if you outsource internationally by taking advantage of the differences in cost of living.

A virtual assistant who can work more independently may cost you $30-50/hour. For a very specialized task, you could be paying $75/hour or more.

Keep in mind that as a general rule, the lower the rate you pay the more you’ll need to be involved in managing and overseeing work. And, someone who is charging a lower rate may end up costing you just as much as someone who chargers you more hourly, as they may work slower and bill more hours.

The question to ask yourself is could you afford to pay someone about $80/week to complete work that takes you 3-4 hours to do? This might be 3-4 hours of work for a lower paid VA or 2 hours of work for a higher paid, more efficient, VA. In this space is your sweet spot to get starting with absorbing the cost of hiring a virtual assistant.

#3 – Hiring a virtual assistant can cost less IF you set expectations and control the budget

When you are new to outsourcing, it’s natural to be afraid that you’ll receive unexpected bills from work that you didn’t even know was being done, or didn’t realize would take so long.

When you are getting started with a new virtual assistant, it’s a good idea to start with a pilot task and agree to guidelines about the number of hours. You can also ask for weekly reporting so you know exactly what was done and how long it took. Some VAs offer packages for specific types of tasks, in which case you don’t have to worry about actual hours so much.

If you’ve hired the right VA, you’ll quickly transition into a more trusting relationship. Still, whenever you outsource to a new person or even give your current virtual assistant a new type of work, it’s a good idea to invest more time in setting expectations up front until you both get a handle on it.

Go Hire Yourself a Virtual Assistant!

If you are making even a sliver beyond the money you absolutely must be making in your business, it’s time to hire a virtual assistant. Each hour they work for you will free up at least an hour, probably more, of your time. And you can invest this time in activities that will grow your business more quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be increasing the budget you have so your virtual assistant can do even more for you.

And if you aren’t sure what to delegate, be sure to download my free guide Build Your Business the Momstyle Way, where we talk about outsourcing and delegating as part of creating a profitable, flexible business.

Hiring a VA

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Defined

Search engine optimization (SEO) sounds complicated and technical. And it can be. There are a lot of advanced practices that can be applied to your website as part of your online marketing strategy. But at the end of the day, search engine optimization is really a set of practices that help get specific pieces of content (like blog posts and web pages) to rank higher up for specific search terms.

This means that when someone (hopefully your potential buyer of your digital products) decides to type a few words in Google as part of researching a solution to their problem, one of your articles or posts appears near the top of the organic search results.

“Organic” search results are essentially all of the results that are not ads. Online marketers can pay to have their listing at the top of Google’s search results, and these are commonly referred to as “paid” search results.

Search engine optimization practices can be applied to any web page on your website, whether it is a post or a page, or whether they are articles you publish. A page could even be a web page you publish to share your images, video, or audio content, provided there is descriptive text on the page that a search engine can index.

This distinction is important because most of the search engine optimization work you do is not about optimizing your website. Most of the SEO work you’ll do is about optimizing pages for specific search terms, or keyword phrases.

When you think about it, you don’t use a search engine to find a website. You use a search engine to find an answer to a specific question or problem, and that answer is probably going to be on a specific page within a website.

That being said, there are some general things you can do for your entire site in the service of search engine optimization, like make sure the page structure enables search engines to read the text, submitting your site map to Google, and securing your site to ensure there is no malware. But by and large, most of your work will happen page by page.

There is not a magic wand someone can wave over your website and “optimize” it. The work we cover in the SEO Guide  for Busy Moms is all about what you can do to optimize individual pages on your website. In the guide, you’ll learn to focus on the easiest, most effective practices that won’t take a lot of time and energy. More importantly, layering on this little bit of extra work will help you make the most of all the time and energy you are already investing in your content, so it will work longer and harder for you and your business for years to come.

Click here to learn more about the SEO Guide for Busy Moms

 

5 things to do before vacation when you own an online business

Most of us are building online businesses because we want the flexibility that comes with it. We know we can do our work anytime, anywhere. But how about those times when we don’t want to work at all, because we really want to be on a tried-and-true vacation?

Here are the 5 things I do before vacation time, and they help me be sure I can relax, enjoy my family, and make the most of my time off.

(By the way, if you are looking to build your business the momstyle way so you can actually take a real vacation, be sure to check out 10 Tips for Building Your Business the Momstyle Way – it’s free.)

#1 – Several weeks or months before vacation, block out the time

This might sound obvious, but you’ve got to block out the time. This means that I don’t plan any launches right before or after my vacation. It also means that I make sure that it won’t be necessary for me to deliver support, like 1-1 consulting or facilitating a live session.

There are times that my vacations seriously cramp my launch windows. I’ll find myself racing to get a new course or product out and a product launch started 2-3 months ahead of time, just to be sure the work doesn’t creep into my vacation. Other times, I make the hard decision well before vacation to defer ideas until after I get back.

#2 – 2-3 weeks before vacation, map out marketing communication

About 2-3 weeks before vacation, I map out my marketing communication plan. This gives me time to write the extra content and my virtual assistant time to review it and ask me any questions she might have about setting it up.

I don’t try to keep up with all of my normal marketing communications during vacation, but  I do like some messages to go out to maintain the hard-earned awareness I’ve built for me and my brand.

#3 – 1 week before vacation, reconcile finances

The last thing you want to be worrying about on vacation is whether or not your business expenses are covered. If my time off happens over the 1st of the month, I either plan to complete my monthly reconciliation process while on vacation (see #5) or do it ahead of time.

Learn exactly how to complete this simple, financially-freeing process in the 6-Figure Cash Flow System.

#4 – 1 week before vacation, plan the work week after vacation

I’m a planner. I go into every week with a to do list. The week before vacation, I plan out the week I return to work. This might be 3 or 4 weeks in advance, but typically there are commitments I’ve made and action steps I know I want to take to reignite my marketing communications.

By doing this, I can make sure these action items aren’t lingering in the back of my mind,  and focus on my family and having fun. I know my well-thought-out to do list is waiting for me when I get back.

As an aside, I’ll often leave a little extra space in this week. It’s not uncommon to come back from vacation with new ideas that you want to vet out or intentions to readjust your bigger picture plans. Your business will get the most out of your rest if you give yourself space to integrate these new ideas.

#5 – 1 week before vacation, map out the must-do tasks for during vacation

Finally, before vacation, I make a list of any items I absolutely must do during vacation. These are the tasks that can’t be deferred and that I haven’t delegated yet.

For example, last summer we took a 3 week vacation and I knew I needed a half hour every 3 business days to check in and answer any course participant emails. This year, I’ve eliminated and delegated nearly all of this activity, and so I’ll only be checking in for a smaller set of must-do items and, of course, to be sure there aren’t any emergencies that need my immediate attention.

I think it’s really important that we’re kind to ourselves about how flexible our businesses are. Most of us are in this work because we love it, and so checking in here and there isn’t a big inconvenience.  As long as your vacation doesn’t become all about work, you are doing better than the vast majority of online business owners.

Want to learn more?

Join us for more support over at the Momstyle Your Business Facebook group, where we empower one another to build flexible, profitable, online businesses that nourish our creative spirits and empower us economically.

5 things to do before vacation when you own an online business (1)

Sales Page: 5 sales copy elements that sell digital products

Once you’ve invested all the time and energy it takes to create a digital product, you need to write a sales page to sell it. Sales copy is essentially the language you use to describe your product to someone who is interested in buying it. You probably read sales copy all the time without even thinking about it. Every time you look at a listing on Amazon or read the box of a product, you are reading sales copy.

For digital products (like eBooks, digital toolkits, and online courses), your sales copy will often be on a single web page, which is often called a sales page or landing page. The one and only job of this page is to sell your digital product to interested buyers.

(By the way, I offer Sales Copy Templates for writing copy that sells digital products. They will save you time, frustration, and the cost of hiring a professional copywriter.)

Sales Page Element #1 – Headline

The headline and first few sentences on your sales page establish relevance, meaning they draw your potential buyer in and encourage them to explore your product in more detail.

Use these sections to clearly communicate the benefits your product solves or the pain points your product alleviates. As an aside, I’ve found that focusing on pain points works best for digital toolkits, while focusing on benefits or desired outcomes works best for online courses.

Sales Page Element #2 – About You

It’s safe to assume that you’ll be making first and second impressions from your sales page. Whether someone reads a single blog post and then clicks to your sales page, or clicks on an ad or social media link, they will want to know more about who you are and how you can help them before buying.

Include a short bio with your name, a few details about you or your approach, and why you can be trusted about the topic at hand. Including a head shot is also a great idea.

Sales Page Element #3 – Product Description

A lot of sales copy writers can get so into writing about the benefits and overcoming objections to buying that they forget to describe exactly what the product is. I have an analytical mind, and one of my biggest objections to buying a product is that I can’t easily figure out exactly what the product is or what’s covered inside.

If you are selling to analytical people like me, be sure to describe the details. Listing the chapters in an eBook, the pieces of a toolkit, or the lessons in an online course is a good start. Writing short, descriptive copy about what’s included in each section and why a buyer will benefit from it is even better.

Sales Page Element #4 – Product Delivery

People are understandably skeptical about buying digital products online. Being clear and specific about formats is necessary. And including details about how they will be able to access or download their product can help increase sales.

For example, “Each lesson is delivered in PDF format with an accompanying mp3 audio” is good.

However, “You’ll receive online access to all of the PDFs and mp3 audio files in our online learning platform, and can download them as a zip file for future use,” is even better. This sentence clarifies how easy it will be to access the materials now and in the future.

And even if you are selling an eBook through a digital download service, clarifying that your buyer will receive an email with a link to download the file on any device can be helpful. If they are on their phone, they may be wary about completing the transaction if they want to download the file to their personal computer.

Sales Page Element #5 – Clear Call to Action

Never, ever forget to invite the person reading your sales page to actually buy your product. “Click the ‘add to cart’ button below to download your copy today” is a simple way to encourage your buyer to take the next step.

While we are talking about calls to action, let me demonstrate. If you’d like to receive step-by-step detail on how to write sales copy for digital products, hop on over to my sales page for the Sales Copy Templates.

Click here to learn more about the Sales Copy Templates

Raising daughters

Raising daughtersFrom the very moment I found out I was pregnant with our second child, I expected to have a boy. First, there was the fact that we already had a daughter, so a son seemed like the logical way to balance out our family. Second, the conception timing led me to believe that the faster swimmers were likely to have won out.

In some ways I really wanted a son. I wanted my husband to have a boy to play sports with. And as our children got older, I wanted equity when it came to things like bathroom trips and sex talks.

We didn’t find out the gender of our first child during my pregnancy. Actually, we didn’t find out until a few minutes after birth when the little new human bundle almost slipped out of my arms into the birth tub and I saw – GIRL!

It took awhile for the reality of being the mother of two girls to sink in. It completely shifted my perspective about the work I had to do to raise my children and the person I wanted to be.

In the days after our second daughter’s birth, I read Lean In. I love Sheryl Sandberg’s work, but read with the weight of postpartum hormones and in the overwhelm of embracing a life of raising two daughters, I found it disheartening.

In those early postpartum days, I realized with all my heart that I didn’t want my two daughters growing up in the same corporate world I had to deal with. I realized that my work was more than simply my work.

My work is and was and will be about changing the opportunities my daughters will have. Opportunities to have careers, businesses, children, experiences…whatever it is they want from the deepest places of their heart and decide to go after with all of their soul.

In the slightly less blurry months and years following my second daughter’s birth, I’ve realized that raising daughters does call me to step up in new ways.

  • First, I’m their chief role model of what we can do as women. They will learn to honor their creative souls by watching me honor mine. As I build my Momstyle Business they will see me eclipse my own expectations of what’s possible and do work that matters to me in an economically empowering way.
  • Second, I’m their chief encouragement officer. Already, I see my first daughter step back from risks, quiet her own voice, and dim her light. I call her out. She throws a tantrum. We move on. But we’re working on it and I know this is my special work to do, to help both of my girls step into their own power, find their own voices, and simply be themselves.
  • Finally, I’m their mom. I get to love them and nurture them. We get to go to parks and read stories and do craft projects. I get to hug them and, yes, sometimes correct them.

More than this, raising daughters has challenged me to be the woman I want to be. To find the courage to be their best example. To find the words and actions to empower them on their journey. And to create the space to love them with all my heart.

I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, becoming a mother has empowered me to be more me than I ever thought possible. And, in case you were wondering, it turns out my husband is totally paying his dues with bathroom trips now. I know my turn is just around the corner.

4 signs it’s not time to go back to your day job (and your online business is on the right track)

Starting an online business is hard, especially if you gave up a lucrative day job. I know. I’ve been there. I left a 6-figure corporate gig. It took me 4 years to earn in my business what I was earning through my day job salary.

Yes, it was hard. But it was totally worth it.

The first few months (or years) can be frustrating, especially when you feel you are putting out-out-out and receiving little if any energy in return. Beyond getting a website site set up, and an email marketing system in place, you have to, you know, actually find people who want to read what you write and buy your offers.

So how do you really know if you are on the right track in your online business?  How do you know if this online business is going to eventually feed not only your soul but also your checking account? What results can you focus on to reduce the temptation to quit your online business and go back to your day job?

Well, there are no guarantees in life or business, but there are some definite signs that indicate your business is growing, and worth your continued investment.

#1 – Your message resonates with someone. You say what you have to say, and someone, even if it’s one person, stops in their tracks and sends you a message. It might be, “Oh, my, that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.” Or, “that’s exactly what I needed to hear today, thank you.”

(As an aside, these messages feed our creative souls. Save them. Read them again when you are feeling down and need a little new energy.)

#2 – Your stats are growing, even if it feels slow. Your email subscriber list is inching up. New people join your Facebook group. However you choose to market your services via social media, there is an uptick, even if a very slow and gradual one.

(And, if you haven’t been out marketing somewhere on social media, that could be a good reason why you aren’t experiencing growth. Picking one or two social media platforms where your most likely buyers are going to be is how you get the word out in the early days. Unfortunately, we’re not in ‘build it and they will come’ territory here.)

But back to our list of reasons to put off going back to your day job…

#3 – You are enjoying your work. One reason I’m constantly encouraging women and moms to follow their passions, is that growing a new online business takes work. The more you enjoy what you do, the easier it will be to put in the work early on. This is not your day job, and so just showing up will not bring in income. Make sure your work also feeds your soul.

#4 – You see people in your market buying something, even if it’s not your offer. The hardest markets to go after are those that don’t spend any money. If you want to teach coupon cutters to save a few more pennies, you are on an uphill battle to get them to give you their pennies. So look around to the people you are attracting with your message. Are they spending money? If so, on what?

A lot of times growth comes when you re-position your offering to be exactly what your community wants. Until that happens, it can feel like slow going. (And, yes, it can take a few product launches, tweaks, and revisions to get there.)

And rest assured, it’s not always this way. I’m in the midst of building one brand from the ground up, so I get that this is hard. I’ve made mistakes. My website gets an average of 12 hits a day, and that’s about a 400% improvement over where I was last year!

But at the same time I’m experiencing the natural momentum of an unstoppable selling machine for my first online business, which I started 7 years ago after abruptly leaving my corporate day job. I know the hard work is going to pay off because my numbers keep ticking up, I see mompreneurs investing in digital products, and I have a passion for the work. And I receive a lot of fuel by seeing my message resonate with others, especially inside the Momstyle Your Business Facebook group.

So I’m with you, living in the space of trusting that the slow growth will snowball, and using these signs to be sure I’m on the right track.

Ick-Free Online Marketing: 3 Ways to Get Your Community to Notice Your Digital Product

The online marketing wizards of the world like to spew out the number of impressions you need before you make a sale. I’ve heard 7. I’ve heard 17. I’ve heard 27 or more. But the logical reality is that the more people who notice your digital product, the more people who will potentially buy it.

It stands to reason that your online marketing strategy – one that doesn’t feel icky or spammy – needs to get more people to notice your digital product. So let’s talk about a few ways you can do this. As a bonus, these are all free and they don’t require you to be pushy or spammy.

(By the way, there is a recording of a live stream where I talked about this topic inside the Momstyle Your Business Facebook group . It was my first Monday Night Wine Chat and it was loads of fun. You should totally join us!)

Online Marketing Strategy #1 – Mention Your Product in Content

The #1 way you can get people to notice your product is to mention it and link to it. Take a look at the sentence I wrote just above this header. You’ll see I mentioned my Facebook group and brought attention to it without making this entire article about the Facebook group. You can do the same thing with your product.

In fact, in this article on 5 Steps to Easing Up on All the Hard Work, you’ll see how I mentioned my 6-Figure Cash Flow System once towards the beginning of the article and twice towards the end. And look at that. I just did it again.

Mentioning your products can take a little getting used to, but once you develop the habit, it becomes a natural part of how you create content.

(And this idea isn’t limited to blog posts. You could do this in a podcast, video, Facebook post, or Tweet.)

Online Marketing Strategy #2 – Create a Helpful Piece of Content that Outlines Your Product

While mentions are great, creating a specific piece of content to highlight your product is even better. For example, at Bridging the Gap, I have a post called the 8 Steps to Being an Effective Business Analyst. I also happen to offer a course with 8 lessons going through each of the 8 steps. This is not a coincidence. I wrote the article as I was finalizing the course to explain my approach to a business analysis project and call attention to the course.

What’s more, I link to this article frequently. I receive a lot of questions from new business analysts looking for an approach or methodology to get started on their first project. I send them this article. I’ve seen these emails generate sales, without any further interaction from me.

I also link to this article any time I write the phrase “business analysis process” in another post, which serves both as a reference for someone new to my work and helps the article rise up in search engines.

This type of content is a core piece of your online marketing strategy. The article should be super-helpful so you feel great about sharing it frequently. It’s likely to be a longer piece of content and it’s likely to have numbers – like 5 steps or 10 must-have templates.

Online Marketing Strategy #3 – Set-Up an Email Auto-Responder

Another thing you’ll hear from the online marketing wizards is that a new subscriber is your most likely new buyer. If this is even sometimes true, it makes sense to introduce your new email subscribers to your products as part of your online marketing strategy.

Here are 3 simple ways to do this:

  • Add a PS to the confirmation email you send mentioning a specific product or with a link to your entire catalog. I’ve found that including a time-sensitive discount can increase sales.
  • Send an email with your top posts or articles, all or some of which mention your products.
  • Send an email with a list of product offerings and invite any questions they might have.

Of course, you can get more savvy and create a marketing funnel that’s designed to sell a specific product. But this doesn’t work for all markets, and you might not be there yet. Get started quickly and easily by mentioning your products so your new subscribers start to learn about them.

>>Get Your Products Noticed

We covered 3 ways to get your community to notice your digital products as part of your online marketing strategy. They are free and they shouldn’t feel pushy or spammy. You are simply leveraging your free content to call attention to the offers you have that can provide even more value to those who already know and like you.

I challenge you to pick one online marketing strategy and implement it this week in your content. The sooner you start, the sooner you can get those impressions, and the sooner you’ll start to see increased sales.

Affordable WordPress Website Offering by Margaret Rode

I’m so excited to share a new digital product profile with you today. Margaret Rode of Websites for Good helped me get this super-affordable wordpress website off the ground in record time. Beyond her responsiveness and ability to handle all things tech, I always appreciate how she helps me find the most reasonable and affordable way to accomplish what I really want to have done.

Today, Margaret is here to share some of the details behind her new digital product – The 90-Minute Website – which is one way for entrepreneurs to get an affordable WordPress website design. One of the intriguing aspects of Margaret’s product is that she’s combined a digital product with a very specific service offering, which enables her to offer an affordable alternative to getting a new website created, and serve more people with her work.

Margaret was kind enough to answer a few questions about how this product came to be.

Laura: Where did the idea for your digital product first come from?

Margaret: I’m a web designer and developer in Evergreen, Colorado, and I work with small businesses, nonprofits, and other people that are trying to do something good in the world. I love my work and who I do it for, but for years I had to turn away people who came to me hoping for a small, effective, inexpensive website. There is only me and my two small hands, and I tended to work on larger projects to keep the bills paid. I hated saying no to these people, because often they were really beautiful people doing amazing work in the world. But I felt like I had to.

I got the idea to develop a digital product by brainstorming how I could stop saying “no” to these good people. Where was the intersection of what I was good at, and what they needed the most? My strength, I felt, was in teaching people how to “do” a website right, so the end result is something that really and truly helps get clients, donors, supporters, and fans. Was there something I could create that would help them, without necessarily investing dozens of hours of my time (that I didn’t have) in each project?

Laura: What were some of the more challenging parts of getting from idea to done, and how did you work past them?

Margaret: There were two challenging parts to getting from this initial idea to a sellable product. One was making time to create it amid my other life responsibilities. For at least a year I only daydreamed about it. I needed a jump start, and serendipitously I saw Laura Brandenburg’s Digital Product Workshop on my Facebook feed. I took the course, and it ignited me. It helped me brainstorm in a structured way, and clarified for me what I wanted it to do, and who I wanted to help.

The second challenge was coming up with the form it should take. This couldn’t just be a simple e-book. People need more personalized help because they all had different needs. So I created a hybrid digital product—a product PLUS a service bundled together.

I started with a non-geeky e-course teaching them what they need to know & gather for a website, and bundled it with a hands-on session to build their site together. (I called it the 90-Minute Website.) For them, it’s a fraction of the cost of a regular website, because they are helping to create it with me. For me, it allows me to share my expertise by putting it down into a digital product that lots of people can enjoy . . . which takes less of my time but still provides great value. They learn on their own, then I “sherpa” them to pull all the pieces together, and in just a short session we go from zero to website.

People love it, and that makes me happy through and through. Recently, one of the participants told me, “My new business idea just seemed like a lark until we launched my new website together. Now it’s all for real, no kidding. I feel like a business owner, so much clearer about my audience and what I do, and making money to boot.” I loved hearing that so much!

Laura: What did it feel like to see that first sale come in?

Margaret: As thrilling as it was to see my first sale come in—and it was almost surreal to get that “you’ve got money” email from PayPal, like magic money—it was just as thrilling to have one of my clients tell me about the first sale THEY made with their new website. So all that stuff they tell you about “doing well by doing good”?  It’s absolutely, positively true. Create something good, and others will use it to create good, in an endless chain.

Laura: What would you recommend to other women who are putting together their first digital product?

Margaret: If I had any advice for other women thinking about putting together their first digital product, it would be to start with these three questions: Who do I want to help the most with this product? What do they need the most right now? (i.e. facts, instructions, a system, some sort of relief, another income stream, etc.) What is living in my brain & experience that I could capture either on paper, or on paper plus a little personal time, that would help fill that need? These are from my notes from the Digital Product Workshop, accompanied by big red Sharpie asterisks – they were my guideposts.

Laura: Congratulations, Margaret! I’m so excited that you’ve brought this offering into the world. Finding someone you can trust to help you with your website is a difficult business challenge. And I know people can trust in you.

If you need a new or improved affordable WordPress website for your online business, be sure to check out Margaret’s 90-Minute Website offer. And if you are looking for a more hands-off approach, she also has a handy guide on how to pay her less money, available on her website.

Launch in Review – 30-Day Digital Product Challenge

Here at Momstyle, we recently launched the 30-Day Digital Product Challenge. I always like to share the results of my launch, in the spirit of transparency and learning. Because during a launch, things rarely go as you expect. This launch was no different.

The Product Concept

The idea for the 30-Day Digital Product Challenge emerged from me watching mamas get hung up somewhere in the digital product creation process. While it’s great that the Digital Product Workshop is available on-demand, it hasn’t sold incredibly well. And I was also seeing evidence that the women investing in the Workshop were not following through on the implementation.

I asked myself: How can I help women follow through on this goal all the way to the end? The answer I came up with was the 30-Day Digital Product Challenge.

(As an aside, product development for an online business has always been like this for me. Create. Launch. Learn. Adjust. Repeat.)

But while I have a bad habit of diving into creating before vetting my idea, this time I posted the idea in the Momstyle Your Business Facebook group for feedback. The first version of the idea offered the Workshop + Challenge at $167.

The feedback I received was that the daily action steps and support were the most valuable and also that $100 felt like an upper limit for what people were ready to invest. I un-bundled the Challenge from the Workshop and offered it at $97. I also decided to limit participation to 25 total people, so that I could be sure to provide a lot of value to all participants.

The Launch Plan

With the product idea in mind, I started forming a launch plan. Another goal I had for the month was to grow my email list and Facebook group. I’d had great results doing both in January using a free, 5-Day Challenge so I decided to adjust that challenge and offer it again.

I decided on 3 days instead of 5 for a couple of reasons.

  • First, during the first challenge, participation waned after the first couple of days. I felt I had built in too many brainstorming tasks and not enough planning and getting ready to implement tasks.
  • Second, I work Tuesday – Thursday. During the last challenge, there was a lot of interaction in the group on Monday and it was difficult for me to keep up with it, since it’s a day I mostly spend with my girls.

I also tweaked the challenge to make sure that the ending point of the challenge – planning out a single idea – flowed very nicely into the starting point of the paid challenge – implementing the idea.

The launch plan emerged as follows:

  • Promote 3-Day Challenge via Facebook ads, local blogger meet-up, and posting in Facebook groups.
  • Pre-announce 30-Day Challenge to email subscribers who have expressed interest in this type of offering. (This resulted in 2 sales very early, which was a huge confidence boost.)
  • Deliver 3-Day Digital Product Challenge (Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday), showing up 100% and helping participants work through their ideas and roadblocks.
  • Promote 30-Day Challenge with Facebook posts and email.
  • As new participants register, update the sales page to indicate the number of spots left. Also add a comment to the thread in the Facebook group. This creates social proof that others see the offer as worthwhile.
  • At the last minute, added in 3 Facebook Live events to pilot this new option within Facebook groups. I made sure to reinforce parts of the free challenge and speak to the forthcoming elements of the paid challenge

(To learn more about planning your launch, check out the Digital Product Launch Planner.)

The Launch Stats

  • Email List Size – Approximately 500 total, 124 signed up for the 3-Day Challenge.
  • Approximately 40 challenge participants registered via Facebook ads ($225 spend).
  • Sales = 10 total, $970 in revenue.
  • Conversion rate = 2% on entire list, 8% on challenge list.

What I Learned

  • Running a challenge Tuesday – Thursday really helped me be present and available, especially on the first day of challenge, since Monday is not a work day for me.
  • Thinking through the connection between the two challenges made the offer and promotion feel like an expansion of the work we’d already done. This made it feel more comfortable for me to promote, and I’m assuming was a more natural transition from a buyer perspective as well.
  • I sense that the similarity in names between the 3-Day Challenge and the 30-Day Challenge could have caused some confusion. I’m not sure it was crystal clear what the difference was, and this could have impacted sales. I remember again and again that names are everything when it comes to digital products!
  • Inside the group, I received a critical piece of feedback that will help me rename the free challenge for the next time I offer it. The feedback was “I feel I have an idea that will actually sell.” Next time, I’ll also be swapping out day 3 for an action step to help hone in on an idea more likely to sell.
  • One thing still puzzles me. After a strong pattern of sales, there were 0 sales on the last day, despite an email and 3 Facebook group posts. I still have no idea why! I’ve never had this happen in my history of launching digital products. Typically, nearly half of my sales occur on the last day. Time will tell whether this was an anomaly or something to do with the launch plan itself.

As you can see, launching is about learning. I learn something every time I launch, no matter how the results match up against my goals.

What questions do you have about this launch? What lessons have you learned from running your own launches?

>>Learn more about launch sales

To learn more about planning your launch, check out the Digital Product Launch Planner.  You’ll learn exactly how to structure your offer to kick-start the selling process, how to communicate with your audience about your offer, and what to do before, during, and after your launch.

Click here to learn more about the Digital Product Launch Planner

5 product tweaks to sell more digital products online

One fear that can keep you from starting to sell digital products online is that you’ll do the work and then find out no one needs or wants what you have to offer. I’ve released some super-successful digital products, but I’ve also released some absolute duds – products that sold few (if any) copies, or generated revenue that was totally out of whack with the time and energy I invested in them.

My path to a 6-figure business was not about getting it perfect each and every time. It was actually more about course correcting when I didn’t succeed.

Here are some of the more powerful tweaks you can make to sell more of your digital products online. (Or, if you are just starting to think about your product, avoid these mistakes in your planning process so your digital product actually sells.)

Tweak #1 – Rename the Digital Product

The #1 product development mistake is that the name doesn’t speak to your customer. I’ve seen huge sales boosts by changing and adjusting names for courses and toolkits.

Read your customer comments and emails. See how you can morph their words into a name for your digital product. If they already are saying or writing these words to describe their problem, the name is going to resonate with them.

What’s more, test your name with actual potential customers before your launch. Do not entrust this work with friends and family. Ask actual people who would be in the market to buy your product what they think of your name, what they would expect the product to include, and if they are interested in learning more.

Tweak #2 – Make the Digital Product Smaller (and More Affordable)

Another reason a digital product doesn’t sell online is that the product is beyond your buyer’s perception of a valuable price point. They see it as “too expensive” or say they “can’t afford it.” While neither of these statements is objectively true, if your audience is price sensitive, making the product smaller and more affordable can lead to more sales.

For example, before I launched the 6-Figure Cash Flow System that’s now priced at $97, I piloted a group program for $297 that flopped. I learned that my audience valued the system more than the interaction for this topic and adjusted my offering accordingly.

Similarly, you could pull templates and worksheets out of online courses or turn the transcripts for a course into an ebook.

Tweak #3 – Evaluate Your Sales Process to Sell Digital Products Online

It takes more work than most expect to make an offer visible. Most of us are afraid of selling digital products online on some level and so we bury our offers.

  • Look at your sales messages from a potential customer’s perspective, and ask yourself if you really make the offer visible. Was there enough communication that they couldn’t help but see your offering. (Note: a few social media posts is NOT enough.)
  • Then, look at your copy. Did you really promote your product? Was it clear there was a product to buy? Did you emphasize what was special about your offer and when the offer expired? Small adjustments in copy make big differences when it comes to sales.
  • Finally, consider your current reach and list size. Converting 5% of email subscribers is considered a good launch for most online businesses. And it’s actually more difficult to convert a social media following, because they are less likely to actually see all of your messages.

Tweak #4 – Take a Different Approach

Another way to course correct is to try a different approach to the same problem. When I began helping mid-career professionals start business analyst careers, I wrote an eBook that sold remarkably well. So I launched a $997 online career development program, but this didn’t sell as well.

Then I listened to what my target customers were telling me they needed to start their careers, which was stronger business analyst skills. I started teaching skill-development courses (as opposed to a career development program) and my sales took off.

Same problem. Different approach. More sales.

Tweak #5 – Oh, wait, did your digital product solve a problem?

Solving a problem that is an urgent or critical need for your buyer is critical to selling digital products online. When it comes to information products, especially ones priced more than a few dollars, it’s tougher to sell nice-to-haves.

A digital product has to be positioned to solve a specific problem for a specific type of person. Then it sells. Revisit the problem your product solves, make sure the product name clearly communicates the product solves that problem, and re-launch.

Finish Your Digital Product

30DayDPC-Ad

One way your product will definitely never sell is if you don’t finish it and make it available for people to buy. In the 30-Day Digital Product Challenge, you’ll create a small product that solves a compelling problem for your buyer and get it up for sale on your website.

(And we’re incorporating specific action steps to be sure your product solves the right problem, has a compelling name, and will be well-received by your community.)

The challenge starts April 13 and is only $97. I so hope you can join us!

Click here to learn more about the 30-Day Digital Product Challenge