When creating a product, the first thing you need to figure out is its purpose.
Many people come to me with questions about writing a book or creating a podcast. I’ve also been asked about courses and websites. Many people want to put these things out there because they’re “supposed” to. Or, perhaps, because it’s the hot thing to do at your current stage of business.
Whether it’s a course, book, podcast, or membership website, whenever you create a product, it’s important to understand its purpose.
And that purpose had better be more than “because I’m supposed to.”
Creating a Product: Making Money vs. Building Credibility
When creating a product, ask yourself: what’s my main purpose? In general, many business owners who launch a new project are doing so for one of two reasons:
- Make money
- Build credibility
Before you move forward, it’s important to understand the purpose of the product.
For example, when I co-wrote a book about building community online, the point was to build credibility. My co-author wanted to position herself in the space and she wanted help writing a book that would accomplish that goal.
Because the book was traditionally published, it was less about making money and more about being able to say there was a book involved.
On the other hand, when I decided to self-publish my own book on freelancing, I wanted it to make money. Having a book — even self-published — does provide a degree of credibility, but the main purpose of the book was to make money.
The month I released the first edition of my book in 2013, I made more than I’ve ever made in royalties from the traditionally published book. I recently released the second edition of my book, updated and with additional content.
I looked at what I wanted to accomplish with my book and went the route that would help me reach that goal. Rather than trying to pursue a book deal, I just did it myself and made some money. If I were more concerned with credibility and reaching a particular milestone, I would have chosen a different path.
If making money is your main goal with your project, you need to be prepared with a plan to market your product so that it does, in fact, provide some type of income.
When I published my book, I knew I’d need to market it myself, mentioning it where I could and making sure to showcase it. Likewise, I knew I’d probably need to update it at some point and release a second edition if I wanted it to keep making money.
In some cases, the product you create is designed to make money in a more roundabout way. Perhaps you create an ebook or a worksheet to build your email list. Then, your email list can be used to make money, either through the sale of your own products or through affiliate income. This can be an effective way to make money with a product. However, you need to have a well-thought-out plan for this to work.
Additionally, you might need to build an audience before you decide to launch your money-making products. Many people start as “influencers” on social media and then offer products for sale after they have an audience. However, building a following takes time and energy — and planning.
You need to be ready to position yourself, offer a solution, and market your products in a way that offers value.
Part of building an audience might be building credibility. Or, perhaps, you want to build credibility to attract more money-making opportunities.
My website is an example of a project that’s designed more for credibility. It’s meant to be a place where potential clients can see my work and decide whether to hire me. I have some affiliate partnerships and make a small amount of money through ads, but, for the most part, the purpose of this website is to get work.
As my home on the internet, it’s easy for potential clients to see samples of my work, including some of my podcasting and video appearances. It’s not just about writing. I can showcase other services and products I offer.
Podcasting is another area where people often ask me for ideas. However, few people think about the purpose of the podcast before they get started. A podcast can be a great tool for building credibility. It gets your ideas out there, and you have the chance to attract an audience. However, if you plan to monetize your podcast, you need to have a plan for brand partnerships, ads, and affiliates.
Plus, if you plan to make money with your podcast, you might approach it differently than if you are looking to establish yourself as a credible voice in your niche, or if you’re using your podcast to build an audience.
Using Projects to Draw an Audience
Creating a product isn’t just about putting one thing out there. There are different forms this product can take. I have a lot of projects going, and one thing I’m trying to do is figure out the purpose for each project — and revamp my approach.
Perhaps your plan is to use your product as a way to draw an audience. While building an audience can result in more money, it’s important to understand the primary purpose of the product.
Some creators start with one piece of content, a blog post, and turn it into other types of content. For example, you might use a blog post as the basis for a video script. Once the video is recorded, you can use the audio as a podcast. It doesn’t have to be a long podcast if the goal is to provide another medium that people can connect with, driving them to your website or encouraging them to purchase one of your products.
It's also important to approach various social media outlets with purpose. This is something I’ve been terrible at. My social media posts don’t often reflect any real strategy. However, using social media is a good way to highlight projects and continue drawing an audience. So, I know what I need to do. Executing it is a whole other issue.
At any rate, having a project or product can be a way to have something to promote on social media. In some case, your product is designed to provide you with a reason for people to visit your website and eventually help you by offering credibility or a way to make money — or both.
Translating Your Audience into Profits
The key to creating a product that provides you with credibility, income, or a way to draw an audience is to make sure it’s useful.
Whatever you create, whether it’s a free ebook or a podcast, should be useful. It should impart knowledge others can use to improve their lives, provide entertainment, or establish some other value.
The purpose of creating a product doesn’t have to be exclusive to one aim. However, it’s a good idea to know where the product or project fits into your overall business strategy. Perhaps you launch a webinar to draw people to your website and build an audience so you can launch a paid course later. Maybe you want to make money with mini-courses so you create a series of low-cost courses that you can promote on social media and in your email newsletter. Perhaps the plan is to create a useful podcast that highlights your expertise so you can build credibility and get paid speaking gigs. You can even build a successful free online community and then use that as a way to direct people to a paid mastermind or access additional benefits.
The point is that when you launch a project, you should have some purpose in mind. Creating a product just to create a product won’t help you achieve your goals. And, even better, creating something that makes money or builds your credibility isn’t mutually exclusive to helping people. That’s why it’s important to offer value. Create something valuable, help others, and receive compensation for doing so.
It's a good way to fulfill a purpose while making a living.