So, you’re ready to expand online? Awesome!!!
And I’m sure you have thousands of thoughts running through your head as to how to make that a reality. This is an exciting time and I’m so glad you’re here. The Expand Online podcast is hosted by Jaime Slutzky and its mission is to help you see what’s possible for your business in the online space and to help you take the steps needed to make those possibilities a reality!
Your business is already successful in your community and it’s time to remove location barriers and provide your brilliance and unique approach to a corner of the massive online audience.
This episode goes into starting in the right place in order to quickly and smoothly expand online.
The right place is visioning and idea generation…
That is figuring out what you want to actually create and who you are creating this online product for.
- Are you wanting to create an extension of your offline/in-studio business or are you wanting to create an entry level or advanced level opportunity that leads in or out of your studio offerings?
- Are you wanting to work with your current student base in a new online way or are you wanting to branch out beyond your current market?
- Are you wanting to have direct and regular contact with the individuals who purchase your online product or are you more interested in as-is product delivery or is your vision to have students at multiple levels of engagement?
In a nutshell, the first phase should consist of three prongs:
- what you’re creating
- who you’re creating it for
- how your purchasers are supported and engaged with once
Once you have vision clarity then it’s time to get your idea outlined to see the bits and pieces that will need to come together in the creation process.
When in the visioning phase, we truly have a blank canvas for idea generation. As we start to develop our online product, knowing the what and the who are critical. The how that I just mentioned is a tangent of the who, because the level of contact between you and your purchasers is intrinsically tied to who they are and what they need to feel supported and accomplish their goal.
That’s really the big thing here — we want to create an online product that helps our purchaser accomplish something.
And frankly, one of the reasons why I recently pivoted the audience of this podcast to focus more tightly on serving the needs of arts instructors is because I love supporting others who in turn bring more joy and fun to their students, clients and customers.
If you start with anything other than this, the online product creation journey is going to be far more difficult. I have a downloadable for you that goes through the phases as I see them with online products. You can grab that at https://techofbusiness.com/onlineproduct/
I thought about making this a super short episode, but then the episode wouldn’t provide the value that I strive to provide… So, let’s look at why starting with the vision and idea is so much better than starting elsewhere!
Once we dip our toes into each of the other phases of online product development we will come back to why I believe the idea and vision is paramount to the initial successes of your online product.
First up, type of product.
If, instead of the vision, you start with the type of product you’re going to create, then you’ll find that your idea and vision will be boxed into the group program or online course or membership site or downloadable workbook or other container that you want to create.
What if after deciding on a product type you can’t come up with a product idea that fits into that container? But you’ve already decided on the container, you’ll face internal resistance, self doubt and other kinds of nasties battling for which is better…
- Is your idea so good that you should give up on the type of product you want to create?
- Is your product type stitched to your heart and you throw away good product ideas because they don’t work with the type of product you envision creating?
This is why we want a blank canvas when in the idea and visioning phase!
Next, the tech.
Now, often successful artists who are leaning into having online products do so under the guidance of a coach or mentor. And all of us who provide guidance and support and strategy have our favorites when it comes to the technology needs for online products.
Your coach or mentor might have their “blueprint” which outlines the entire tech stack before you even start exploring ideas!
I certainly have my favorite tech tools but I don’t have one singular tech stack that I recommend to everyone. Your product idea should dictate the tech used not the other way around.
There are a ton of fabulous tools and many of them will work equally well to bring your online product to the point of sale. Just as the type of product shouldn’t dictate the idea, the tech should also not dictate the flow of ideas.
Our third non-starter is the creation process
Ok, this one should be fairly obvious — developing an online product should not start with creating the actual product! If we start here without a clear vision and idea and before we know the online product container then how on earth is this product going to see the light of day?
Two quick examples —
Let’s say you’re a photographer and you want to create an online product. So you start flushing out your lightroom presets so that you can sell them. Who are you selling them to – parents? Amateur photogs? Professional photogs? And what is the end user’s proficiency level with Adobe Lightroom? And where are you going to house the presets? And What is the purpose of selling and buying these – in your business and for your purchasers? Instead of starting to flush out the lightroom presets, the starting point should be to flush out why and to whom you’re selling the presets. And then figure out what support the purchasers are going to need… once those things are accomplished, you can dabble in the creation process while flushing out the delivery container and the tech. The idea and vision is truly the cornerstone to the product. Have you heard the saying “sell them what they want, give them what they need?” — that’s really what we’re talking about here.
Our second example is a musician who teaches one on one piano lessons on the side. The one on one lessons have blown up and in order to double down on your own growth as a musician, you’re looking to create an online product to serve your students in a one to many capacity. So, you create lesson plans and instructional videos that your students could choose to purchase instead of working one on one with you. This product has a lot of online potential, but without identifying the vision and flushing out the idea, the lesson plans might collect digital dust instead of helping your students improve their piano playing. Just like the prior example, it’s vital to identify who the product is for, what support they are going to need to find success with your product and how they are most likely to best use the product.
Sure, those lesson plans and lightroom presets will have a place in a final online product, so if you’ve started on your product creation with the creation itself, don’t throw it away! Instead, take a step back and do the visioning and idea work ahead of moving forward with more creation!
The final non-starting point is the marketing and promotion.
Often you’ll hear people talking about pre-selling an online product (I mean episode 98 was all about pre-selling.) This is a great method for seeing if your product has an audience and people who are willing to buy… but how can we start with marketing and promotion before we even have a vision and idea?
We can’t. So, I’m going to leave this phase of the online product development process here. Marketing and promotion must come after the idea is fleshed out enough that you can speak clearly about it. Nobody wants to read a sales page that says “I’m building something really cool, send me $100 and I’ll give it to you when it’s done” right?
Enough about the phases that we don’t want to start with, let’s get back to the vision and idea to wrap things up.
My strong recommendation is to start with a simple product that helps the purchaser create a victory in their life. Using that as the framework for a brainstorming session does not mean that your signature online program doesn’t make it onto the blank canvas just that it might not make it to the first product creation.
I also recommend not mapping out your first 10 products before you sell your first product and get feedback… in fact, our next episode is going to be all about getting feedback and buy in for your online product idea.
Again, the download that goes through all the phases we discussed is available at https://techofbusiness.com/onlineproduct/
Do you know another artist who is thinking about expanding online this year? Share this episode with them directly inside your podcast app. In general, you’ll be able to do this from the show summary screen. Often you’ll click on the ellipses (three little dots) to open a tray with the share option. Thank you for sharing. My mission, as I mentioned at the top of the episode, is to help artists see what’s possible in the online space and to help make those possibilities a reality!
Thanks for listening and reading these notes! And I love getting to know podcast listeners, so connect with me on any of the platforms listed here: