How to use digital products to boost your business

May 27, 2019

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

As a freelancer, you’re always looking for ways to improve your service offerings. Digital products provide you with an inexpensive way to do exactly that, allowing you to make your services more valuable without offering more of your most precious resource: time.

Consider the many ways you can use digital products, from workbooks and checklists to ebooks and courses, to leave a lasting impression on clients and drive more interest in what you already offer.

Create supplemental materials

Supplemental materials can make the life of your clients easier well after they’ve finished working with you. For example, as a contract operational manager, you may be managing and organizing a current hiring sprint, but when the project finishes, your services are made even more valuable when you leave the client with supplemental materials.

Simple digital products like these make it easier for the client to manage work without you, leading to more referrals and a better final impression. Here are some simple supplemental materials you could turn into digital products :

  • Checklists
  • Workbooks
  • Guides
  • Templates
  • Workflows

When developing these supplemental materials, remember that you don’t want to make the need for your services obsolete, so keep them high-level, as opposed to strategic. Your workbooks or templates should should help past clients with day-to-day tasks, but not give away your secrets.

As another example, a software developer may leave the client with a guidebook for how to use the new tool that he or she built, including basic troubleshooting and management guidelines.

Level up your service offerings with premium content

If you have a tiered service offering, premium content like an ebook, can add value to your most expensive levels as something that the lower-priced tiers don’t include. The difference between this content and the supplemental materials is that it’s both more in-depth and should ultimately be able to stand-alone as a product you can also sell to people who aren’t yet clients.

The topic(s) for your premium content will depend upon how you plan to use this digital product within your service packages. According to an ebook guide from FounderU, there are two simple ways to determine your topic: choose a topic based on personal experience or follow the data. They explain, “A great way to gauge what your audience responds to is to look at which of your blog posts and social media updates currently get the most comments or shares.”

  • Personal experience: This type of topic lends itself well to a how-to ebook, like: 100 Ways to Troubleshoot Your Retail App, filled with ideas that you’ve used personally and can support with actual experience.
  • Popular blog topics: If you’re short on time, use repurposing to write an ebook quickly. Combine all the blog posts that fall under the topic you’ve found to be most popular, and add transitions and updated information as necessary.

In either case, remember that your content should provide value as part of your service offering, but also stand alone. Let that guide your topic choice as you narrow down ideas.

Supplement client needs with video courses or lessons

Online courses have become more and more popular with the advent of sites like Udemy, a site that supports 30 million students, 100 thousand courses, and 42 thousand instructors. Courses serve as a strategic medium for sharing your expertise while adding value to your service offerings.

For current clients, online lessons can provide further insight into specific topics. For future clients, online courses or lessons can serve as a marketing tool: you demonstrate your knowledge to potential clients and then include a CTA to drive them to sales pages.

Once you’ve decided on a topic, you’ll need to decide how and where to host your courses. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • An online course community: Publishing your course on a site like Udemy or Skillshare makes it available both to current and future clients. You also get the benefit of making it accessible to their entire community of learners, which can become a second revenue stream.
  • An online course tool: There are dozens of sites, like Teachable and Thinkific, that allow you to build an online course page and host the video, text, downloads and content through their site. The only difference here is that your course lives on its own, rather than being listed and searchable through a community site.
  • YouTube: You can create private videos on YouTube and give access to clients as needed. This is a great option for short videos that you’ll only be using with clients on an as-needed basis. It’s also free to use and is easy to access.

When choosing your course or lesson topics, consider how this medium can best be used to supplement your service or included as a value-add to increase prices. Perhaps you find that you can create a few short video lessons for current clients, in addition to a full course that can be sold separately and added to a current service offering.

Build Digital Products Into Your Service Offerings

If you want to make a stronger lasting impression on clients, drive new leads, or increase pricing for your various service tiers, consider creating a digital product. There are options available for nearly any type of freelance business, and with a little work, you can use these products for years to come.

Jessica Thiefels is founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, an organic content marketing agency. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. She also regularly contributes to Virgin, Business Insider, Glassdoor, Score.org and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.