How to come up with ideas for digital products


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I've sold dozens of digital products.

And I've even managed to make about $25,000 in extra income in the past year just from a couple products I built.

So I want to share some thoughts this week around the process of coming up with ideas.

More specifically, I want to give you some principles to live by that will lead to high quality, high conversion digital products.

So let's dive right in.

Basic principles to live by

A couple principles I want to make sure get highlighted here.

First, don't overthink the idea.

Honestly, you probably already have a bunch of content sitting around your Notion or Google Docs that you could instantly turn into a digital product.

Don't overthink this stuff.

All you have to answer are these 2 questions:

  1. Will my audience find this helpful?
  2. Would I pay for this thing if I weren't the one making it?

If you can cover those bases, go full steam ahead.

Second, forget the word "perfect".

Done beats perfect every time. Push yourself to create something awesome, but don't let that stop you from publishing and seeing what happens.

You can always re-launch a product that needed to get a little better.

You can't do anything with a product that never sees the light of day.

Coming up with ideas for digital products

Coming up with ideas can be hard, but I've found that adding constraints is extremely helpful.

Not every product has to be big, and not every product has to be paid.

Here are some guiding principles for ideation that will lead you on the right path.

Simplicity Wins

This principle applies to:

  • Copy
  • Design
  • Ideation
  • Promotion
  • Sales Pages
  • Social Media
  • Landing Pages
  • Digital Products
  • And pretty much everything else

If your audience can't easily understand the value you're conveying in seconds without having to think very hard...

There aren't enough elegant words in the world to save you.

Focus on clarity.
Focus on brevity.
Focus on understanding.
Focus on being understood.
Focus on extreme simplicity at all costs.

Good vs Great

There’s a pretty simple criterion that defines a good product:

  1. Your audience will find it valuable
  2. You would pay for this thing if you weren't the one making it

That’s the bar you need to clear first and foremost.

To take a digital product to the next level (and make it great), you need to make sure the product:

  • Delights the customer
  • Provides at least 5x ROI
  • Keeps receiving updates
  • Has a clearly original twist
  • Overdelivers on its promises
  • Uses multiple ways to present content
  • Is well organized and easy to consume

Your first product (or even your tenth) may not hit on all of the above points.

That’s OK.

Finished is way better than perfect.

Perfect is impossible, so it never gets shipped.

Focus on making sure your product qualifies as good first.

Worry about adding some great features after.

The Audience Filter

Before you even have your initial idea, ask yourself:

  • What would my audience expect from me?
  • What would they benefit from?
  • What resources do they need that clearly should exist, but somehow don't?

If you don't have a large audience, that's totally fine. In fact, the size of your audience doesn't matter as much as you think.

What matters is that you know exactly WHO your audience is.

Even if it's only 3 people.

If you know you are trying to serve people in New York City ages 29-39 that are new parents and are struggling to find time to sleep...you can make something helpful for them.

Use the following questions as a worksheet to make sure you know your audience well:

  1. What do they care about professionally?
  2. What technologies or apps do they likely use?
  3. What topics should I avoid using around them?
  4. Who else does my target audience follow online?
  5. Are they a more formal or casual group of people?
  6. Does my target customer have disposable income?
  7. Where do my audience's interests overlap with my own?
  8. Does my audience prefer text, audio, video, or a mixture?
  9. What related products has my audience already purchased?

Existing Content

When you're creating things online, look for leverage.

The highest leverage thing you can do when trying to come up with ideas? Search through ideas you've already brought to life.

Consider the following:

  • What content have you already written, recorded, or published that people found valuable
  • How can you add even more value to that original content?
  • What content have you always wanted for yourself, but could never find?

This content you've already crafted may come in the form of:

  • Tweets
  • Airtables
  • Blog Content
  • Video Series
  • Google Docs
  • Curated Lists
  • Spreadsheets
  • LinkedIn Posts
  • Figma Designs
  • Canva Templates
  • Podcast Episodes
  • Notion Templates
  • Instagram Carousels
  • Brainstorming Notes
  • Millions More

There is likely something highly valuable you've already created that can be expanded and solidified.

This is the ideal place to start.

Picking an Idea

How do you decide between multiple good ideas?

Set up defaults for yourself that you can trust.

I recommend defaulting to one of the following:

  • Ideas you can ship quickly
  • Ideas you care deeply about
  • Ideas your audience specifically asked for

How do I know I've picked the right idea?

Ultimately, you don't until you publish.

Use Twitter as a breeding ground for validation.

  • Tweet about the different ideas you are considering (at different times, of course)
  • Collect data on engagement and apparent interest
  • Make informed decisions based on the results

Most importantly:

Ship.

You will always have more ideas and opportunities to try those out.

The killer of creativity is indecision.

Pick an idea and go all in.

The idea doesn't have to be your life's work and masterpiece.

It just needs to be helpful and distributable.

Conclusion

Now you have an awesome idea for a digital product (or a bunch, hopefully). There's still a lot to dive into on the creation, distribution, and monetization sides of digital assets. I'll be tackling those in future editions, so stay tuned!

🤔
Until then, reply to this with some ideas you have for digital products. 

I'll give you my thoughts and feedback.