The Definitive Guide to Creating Digital Products Your Audience Will Actually Buy

So you wanna create a digital product.

Because you know:

Digital Product + Automated Sales = Passive Income.

And just thinking about how a passive income stream could impact your life excites you beyond belief.

But when it comes to actually creating a digital product, you don’t even know where to start…

Everyone recommends making a course or eBook.

Problem is: they never talk about how to make one that YOUR audience will actually buy.

They just say:

  • “All you have to do is write an eBook on something interesting, and people will start buying!”
  • “Yeah, just make a course and send an email about it to your list and watch the money roll in!”
  • “Making digital products is super easy. I make them in like 5 seconds.”

Okay, “5 seconds” is an exaggeration, but you get the point. People talk about this like it’s simple as ordering a cheeseburger.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

I, too, have read blog post after blog post that promises you can easily create and sell a digital product.

I’ve even made a digital product before based on their instructions, just to watch it completely flop.

Which, unfortunately, sent a few thousand bucks and about 100 hours down the toilet.

But I have good news…

There is a legitimate process that actually worksa process you can follow to create a digital product that both gives you the passive income stream you want AND helps your audience.

After 5+ years of developing and launching digital products for New York Times bestsellers and notable online brands, we found a blueprint that works time and time again.

We’ve used this process to create multiple 6-figure digital products. No snake oil or fake expertise here.

I’ll admit — it’s not as easy as ordering a cheeseburger, but it is pretty simple.

This post will show you, step-by-step, exactly how to follow this process and create your own digital product that your audience will actually buy.

Need help building your personal brand? Click here to get a copy of our ultimate guide that reveals secrets we’ve used to grow the brands of New York Times Bestsellers.

Starting with the Basics: What Is a Digital Product?

Before we dive in, I want to make sure we’re on the same page.

A digital product is a product that doesn’t have a physical form.

In other words, you can’t hold it in your hands. It’s a product that’s accessed and delivered digitally—via a computer with internet access.

Think of a download, an eBook, an online course, a website template, or a subscription/newsletter.

These are so great because you can:

  • Forget about keeping track of inventory
  • Automate the delivery process (more on this later)
  • Create the product once and sell it for years to come
  • Generate sales 24×7 (the classic “make $$$ while you sleep”)
  • Reduce overhead costs (because you only pay to create the product once rather than every time you make a physical product)

Awesome, right?

How to Create a Digital Product: Our Proven 5-Step Process

How to Create a Digital Product Our Proven 5-Step Process
Credit: Deskly

Note: This is our iteration of a process laid out by Ryan Levesque in the The Ask Method.

Step 1: Survey Your Audience to Find a Problem You Can Solve.

95% of the time, you’ll need to have at least a small audience (a few hundred email subscribers) before developing a product.

If you don’t have an audience yet, no problem!

Check out these resources that’ll help you build one before reading the rest of this post:

We also offer personal brand coaching to help you build your audience.

If you do have an audience…onward!

It doesn’t matter what niche you’re in, all great products have one main thing in common:

They solve a problem that people will pay to fix.

So when you’re thinking about creating a digital product, there’s really one thing that matters:

What problems does your audience have that they will they pay you to fix?

How do you figure this out?

The most effective way we’ve found is through sending carefully crafted surveys to your email list.

Here’s how you can do this, step-by-step:

1. Send an exploratory survey to identify problems your list has.

You can set this up easily through a service like Google Forms or Survey Monkey.

The idea here is to identify patterns.

Are there problems that most people on your list have?

How intense are those problems and how do they impact their life?

Would they be interested in a product that solves that problem?

To find out, ask questions like these in your survey:

  • What are you struggling with right now when it comes to [insert your niche]?

You have two options here:

  1. Make this an open-ended question so your audience can tell you exactly what they’re struggling with.
  1. Add 5 – 10 problems based on things you’ve heard them mention in the past that relate to lack of inspiration, motivation, knowledge in a certain area, etc. and let them check as many as apply.
  • If you had to pick one thing for me to help you with, which would you choose?

This helps you identify which of their problems is the biggest. This will generally be the one you’ll end up making a product to solve (more on this later).

  • Would you purchase a product that helped you solve this problem?

Don’t let this question fool you…

A lot of people say they’ll buy a product then change their mind when it’s time to pull out their credit card.

This question helps you get an idea if there’s general interest in a solution to their problem.

2. Send a 2nd survey asking more questions about the most prevalent problems from the first survey.

Once you have a good amount of survey data (50 – 100 responses), dig into the data to see which problems were selected the most.

Then, send a second survey to your list asking them for more details about those main problems.

The goal here is to present your audience with 3-5 product ideas so you can see which one gets the best response.

To do this, ask them questions like:

  • I’m thinking about making an “ultimate guide” on one of the following topics. Which one interests you the most? (list 3-5 mock titles based on the most common problems)
  • If I made a guide on that topic, what format would you prefer? (Video, Print, Audio)
  • How much would you be willing to pay for a guide that gave you a step-by-step solution to that topic? (list 3-5 options, along with an option for them to fill in their own price)

These kinds of questions will give you valuable insights about what kind of product to develop, but be careful…

Like we’ve talked about, people will generally tell you what you want to hear in surveys rather than the truth.

They’ll say, “Yeah, I’d buy a course on that for $197. Sign me up!”

But when you finish developing the course and send them an email…crickets.

Be sure to use this data as a guide when creating your digital product, but don’t view it as a definitive sign that 50% of your list will buy a $197 course.

Need help building your personal brand? Click here to get a copy of our ultimate guide that reveals secrets we’ve used to grow the brands of New York Times Bestsellers.

Step 2: Pick a Problem to Focus on for Your Product.

Awesome. Your audience gave you a few product ideas.

How do you know which one to choose?

Surprisingly, the best option is not always the one with the most votes in the survey you sent.

There are a few other factors that determine which product idea has legs…

You also need to consider:

1. If you have enough quality content to provide a great product on that topic

Think about it this way…

Do you have unique experience, expertise, or content on this topic?

The most important question you can ask yourself is this:

Knowing what you know, would you buy a product from yourself on this topic if you were a customer?

Sometimes your audience will tell you they want a product you don’t feel completely comfortable making.

That’s okay.

If you don’t have enough content or expertise on a specific topic to make a great product, wait until you do to make it.

2. What the competition looks like

Don’t let the mere fact that there is competition scare you.

Competition is a good thing.

It means there’s a market for a solution to that problem.

But here’s the thing:

You need to be able to make a better solution than your competitor.

In other words, if someone already made something that’s almost identical to the product you’d make, there isn’t much of a reason for you to develop that product.

Make sure you can either:

  1. Make a way better product than the competition
  2. Make a more specific solution for a subset of the people in that market (For example: making a blog-building course specifically for Amazon affiliate marketers)

If you go with the second option, be sure the specific market you target is big enough to warrant a product.

3. If people are willing to pay for your solution (and how much)

This builds off of the last point on competition.

It’s important to understand the market for a digital product idea (as much as possible) before you create something.

You need to research current products to see how they’re priced and how people respond to them.

The easiest way to figure out how people respond to them is by looking at product reviews (by Googling “[insert product name] review” or looking on Amazon if the product is offered there).

People aren’t scared to tell everyone how they feel about products they’ve bought — and that’s great for you. 🙂

Step 3: Organize and Format Your Content.

With your product’s topic in mind, you now have an even bigger decision to make…

What kind of digital product are you going to make?

Will you create:

Picking the right format for your product is crucial.

It’s possible that the same content could be hugely successful as an online course, but flop as an eBook (or vise-versa).

The key to deciding how to structure, organize, and format your product should be based on one thing:

Your content.

Is there a format or structure that can make your product’s content:

  • Easier to understand?
  • More appealing?
  • More effective?

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

What would be the best way to digest your content?

Is there a ton of content that could make your customer feel overwhelmed?

Make a video course that’s broken up into bite-sized chunks instead of an eBook.

Is the topic relatively short and easy to understand?

Make an eBook or email course.

Can you cover the entire topic in a 30 minute video that has great visuals?

Make a workshop.

While this is definitely an important decision, it’s easy to overthink it.

Usually, the content will make it pretty obvious which way you should go.

Step 4: Find Beta Testers

Now it’s time to get feedback on the first version of your product.

But not just any feedback…feedback from your target customers.

The people you made the product for in the first place.

Try to get 10 – 20 people to take a look at the rough draft and give you feedback.

You can:

  • Email your list
  • Post on social media
  • Or even identify specific people and shoot them a message

Simply offer them free access to the finished product in return for them filling out a few surveys about the rough draft.

Once you have some beta testers, put together a survey asking them questions that reveal how they felt about your product.

You’re trying to find out:

  • If they felt the product did a good job of solving “x” problem
  • If the product left them wanting more or didn’t give them certain pieces of information they needed
  • Their overall reaction to the product
  • If they think the product is worth a certain price you’re thinking of charging for it
  • And anything else that will help you improve the product

Be careful when crafting these survey questions.

Like we’ve already talked about, people will generally tell you want to hear in surveys when given the opportunity.

…And that’s not really helpful when it comes to perfecting your product.

Here’s a great resource that will help you pull the truth out of your beta testers in your survey.

Step 5: Revise and Publish

Now, all you have to do is use the survey data from your beta testers to tweak and revise your product.

You don’t need to make every change they suggest, but look for big patterns.

Did people say that module 1 was confusing?

Did they ask for more information about the 3rd section?

Make sure your product is as well-organized, visually appealing, and valuable as possible.

Need help building your personal brand? Click here to get a copy of our ultimate guide that reveals secrets we’ve used to grow the brands of New York Times Bestsellers.

Digital Product Delivery: How to Automate the Sales Process

Digital Product Delivery


You created your digital product.

It feels great, doesn’t it? 🙂

Now it’s time to think about digital product delivery.

One of the advantages to creating a digital product is that you can automate the entire delivery process—from taking a customer’s payment information, to sending them their product.

The easiest way to do this is through email automation.

Email service providers like MailChimp, Drip, ConvertKit, and InfusionSoft allow you to create automations or workflows that deliver emails to specific people after they take certain actions.

That means you can set up a system that emails someone their digital product moments after they buy it.

Pretty cool, right?

Here are some resources that can help you set up email automations:

Digital Products Can Change Everything for Your Business

Passive income isn’t a pipe dream.

It’s something you can get by creating and selling digital products based on your audience’s most pressing problems.

It takes many hours of hard work (sorry if you’re shooting for a 4-hour work week), but you can generate sales and deliver products without any active effort.

That means you’ll be able to generate revenue while you sleep, spend time with your family, and travel.

And that’s awesome. 🙂