A few months ago, starting with a list of only 500 people and in a niche where I was still very new at the time, I managed to create a full-time income with the very first product I created and launched.
In this post, I want to share everything I did to make this happen so that you can do the same. That product, by the way, was Backlink Battleplan.
Just to be clear: I was already self-employed when I launched this product. So this product didn’t take me from zero to full-time income. But it would have, if I had actually started from zero and had no other income streams. And I guess that’s a pretty good result for the first product.
Last year, I decided to start marketing to the IM crowd and part of that was the release of my very first “premium” product (i.e. the first product where I asked for money).
The launch was successful. In fact, it was extremely successful, considering that I had only about 500 people on my list at the time of launch, had next to no connections and had never launched a product before. The product made me a lot of money with the launch and it’s still selling on a regular basis.
Today, I want to share exactly what I did to make this launch as successful as it was and I hope this will be a valuable resource for all product creators and aspiring product creators.
The first element that contributed to the product’s success was that it was based on demand. I created a product that was very specifically about how to build backlinks effectively and for free.
Because by surveying the subscribers on my list as well as talking to and asking marketers wherever I could, I found out that this was one of the things a lot of them struggled with.
The best source of information about what people want and need are forums and your mailing list. By the way: I built my mailing list simply by creating a few free giveaways and posting them on my blog and in the WSO forum. Most of those 500 initial subscribers came from the Warrior forum and I while I can’t remember exactly how often I bumped my threads, I think I spent around $100 in total, to get those 500 sign-ups.
The second important element was specificity:
Note that my product is about “how to build backlinks”, more specifically “how to build backlinks systematically, using free automation systems”. This is a very specific, very narrow topic.
I very deliberately didn’t make a “how to make money online” product. Those are EVERYWHERE. If you’re looking for a product on IM in general, there are thousands to choose from. If you’re looking for a product on building backlinks for free, then mine is probably one among a few dozen or so.
Being specific makes the product stand out from the crowd.
The third important factor is that I had real expertise on the topic.
I’d been doing SEO for about six months and had done a lot of experimentation with link-building methods. Once I decided on the topic for my product, I also really dug in and did a heck of a lot of research to find the best tools and best methods.
This was not a “done if 48 hours” type of product. The product isn not a money-grab; it’s not made to put money in my pocket, it’s made to teach people about link-building.
I set up a membership site with Digital Access Pass and WordPress, so that I’d have a way to protect my content and could present the product in a nice way, with streaming videos, a download page etc.
Next up was the marketing:
Here, I contacted some experienced marketers and asked them for some tips. I contacted people who I’d had contact with before and (ideally) had done some work for, at some point.
Big shout-out to Andy Fletcher, who took some time to share very useful information with me, on how to find affiliates.
There were three elements to my marketing:
I did a launch-sequence, I held a small contest and I contacted potential affiliates. Let’s look at those in some detail:
I created three videos where I just shared some good info on link-building and gave away two of the methods from the product itself.
I didn’t buy any courses on product launching or anything like that. I simply watched some product launches and looked at what I wanted to emulate and what I didn’t want to emulate.
For the launch, I created a simple blog where I posted the videos and invited people to comment. I didn’t use a special launch-theme.
The reason for this was that I didn’t want my launch to look like every other launch. I’m not saying launch-themes are bad, but I just like to do things a bit differently.
I created three content-videos plus a few PDFs where I explained some link-building and keyword research methods. The last video in the series was the pitch. I also offered the product at a lower price, for a limited time, to introduce some non-fake scarcity/urgency.
During the launch, I also created an additional instruction video, a video response to a particular question and a PDF document outlining the technical steps from one of the videos. Translation: I demonstrated during the launch that I cared about the people participating, whether or not they had credit cards…
Before the final video, I made another quick video inviting people to take part in this mini-contest: I offered free access to my product to people for A) leaving comments on my launch blog and B) sending out tweets with a link to one of my squeeze-pages.
I’m sure you can see how this works, right? I offered an incentive for people to participate in the launch (social proof) and to help me promote the launch.
To me, it was clear that affiliates were going to play an extremely important part for this first product launch, particularly because I did not have a big list myself.
I created a detailed affiliate-invite page with a video explaining the main benefits of my product as well as the commission structure and how to join.
In everything I did to recruit affiliates, I did my best to offer as much detail as possible, but at the same time getting to the point very quickly and making it as quick and easy as possible to sign up and promote.
I also provided e-mail copy for the launch, an example preview and review for posting on a blog as well as various graphics. For each new video in the launch, I created a separate squeeze-page, so that the squeeze page would be congruent with the e-mail content.
The idea here was simply to make it as easy as possible for any affiliate to promote my product. While I always recommend that affiliates write in their own voice, if someone wants to be lazy and just copy-paste an e-mail or a blog post, I want to make that possible for them. I’d rather have that lazy affiliate than not have them.
I offered 65% commission on the main product as well as 55% commission on the upsell (which was a reasonably priced series of five webinars, including some really cool guest-experts). I chose these commission levels by simply looking at what people usually paid in commission for products of this price-level and going a bit higher than that.
I also wanted to offer some bonuses, but since I didn’t know how many copies I could expect to sell, I wasn’t in a position to offer iPads and other expensive goodies. Instead, I simply offered cash-bonuses, where affiliates would get a nice bonus depending on the number of referred sales. This way, I knew I wouldn’t lose any money.
With the bonuses, I also made a mistake, because I did not specify the time-frame for the referred sales. For example, if someone referred 20 sales in one month, they’d get a cash bonus. If they referred another 30 sales the next month, it was unclear if they would get another bonus for 30 sales (starting from 0 in the new month), a bonus for 50 sales or the bonus for 50 sales minus the one for 20 sales that they’d already received. This is just something to keep in mind if you want to offer cash bonuses yourself. I have since automated this process and changed the bonus structure to clarify these points. Just wanted to add this so that you can avoid making a similar mistake.
Another concern was making the offer as profitable as possible for the affiliates. I did a “test-promo” of the offer to my subscribers and also ran a limited WSO for the product, just to get some conversion numbers in. I also tested two different sales-approaches against each other, to see which would do better.
I added the conversion and EPC numbers I’d gotten from this pre-launch promotion to the affiliates page.
I contacted lots of marketers with short and to-the-point invitations to my affiliate program. In the e-mails, I briefly explained how the launch would go, why I thought they were a good match for promoting my product, what the earning potential was and told them I’d be happy to create some content for their subscribers in return for their promotion. For example, I’d offer to do a free webinar for their subscribers or create a video series for their membership site or something along those lines. I tried to find something that tailor-made to be interesting to the marketer in question.
I’d love to tell you that I found the magic secret to getting tons of affiliates, but unfortunately, this is an area where I still need to gain more experience. I didn’t receive answers to most of my e-mails. This is not surprising, though. Even though I’m relatively unknown in the IM space, I already get such affiliate invitations on a regular basis and it’s just impossible to even take a closer look at all of them. I can only imagine what it’s like for some of the better-knowns… One thing that was rather disappointing was that quite a few marketers agreed to promote for me but then didn’t follow through. But I guess that’s just another thing you have to take into account.
In the end, while the response rate to my affiliate invitations was very low, I still got a few affiliates on board and I got a reasonable amount of traffic to my launch sequence.
You also have to realize that a few good affiliates is all it takes to make the difference between selling a couple of copies and selling hundreds…
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that every member automatically also got an affiliate link and quite a few of them started promoting the product with articles and videos and reviews. It’s mainly thanks to these promotions by “small” affiliates that I’m still seeing steady sales, even though I have not promoted this product in months.
Some of the affiliates have expressed that they are very pleased with the conversions they’re getting from promoting my product. Unfortunately, I don’t have detailed affiliate stats with DAP (I’ve since switched to a new system with better stats), so I don’t know exactly how well the offer performed. But from the general feedback I’ve gotten, it seems that the offer is converting quite well for most affiliates. One thing I did learn from this first product launch is that it’s important and highly valuable to have good, detailed stats all the way through.
Overall, the launch itself was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.
If you look at the size of each section above, I think you can see that the marketing and affiliate recruitment were almost more work than creating and researching the product itself. This was something unexpected for me, but it was absolutely worth putting in all this work.
I wanted to describe everything in detail here to give you an idea of what goes on “behind the scenes”. This is certainly not a “quick and easy” way to make money. I got the whole thing done in six weeks. And that’s six weeks of pretty intensive working, making tons of videos and so on.
But it was definitely worth it.
Even if you take into account all of the free products I made before and all of the SEO experience I needed to gain, you’re still looking at a model that could have taken me from zero to full-time online marketer in about six months (if I had started from zero). I’d say that’s worth it.
The big take-aways for me were:
Ok, I think that about covers it.
If you have any further questions about this launch, feel free to ask in the comments!
I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.
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