Market research, surveys, focus groups, middlemen, test markets—these are all things that people (and companies) spend a ton of money on to ensure that a new product they create with will become a winning product.
You and I—the bloggers, internet entrepreneurs and small online businesses owners of this world, can utilize many of the above strategies to ensure that whatever products we construct will become winners too. Whether it's for a future product such as an ebook, course, membership website or software (or even physical products if that's what you're into), we have the convenience of working online to easily and inexpensively conduct market research, create surveys, find focus groups and run test campaigns.
There is, however, one particular no-fail strategy that we can all use to create the next winning product.
To fill you in, I'm going to quote my new favorite book, Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson (full disclosure – I earn a commission if you purchase the book), who are the founders of BaseCamp:
“The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use.”
It's as simple as that.
When you “scratch your own itch,” as the authors like to call it, you accomplish several things:
You Solve Your Own Problems (And You're Not Alone!)
Because you're creating something for yourself, you're solving your own problems. If the product you create doesn't sell one copy or help anyone else, at least it has helped you, and that's something you can be happy about.
In most cases, however, there are hordes of people out there with the exact same problems that are looking for a solution just like the one you're building for yourself.
When I created GreenExamAcademy, all I was doing was building an online resource to help myself pass the LEED exam. I would have been happy just studying for the exam and passing the test, which I did. After several months, I discovered that thousands of other people were flocking to my site to help them pass the LEED exam too.
That's when I turned that site into my first online business.
You Become Your Own Customer
Part of the problem with creating a product is not fully understanding the exact needs and wants of your audience. Since you are essentially your own customer, you'll have a much easier time designing and delivering the content that needs to be delivered.
Many times, you'll hear people say “put yourself in the shoes of your customers.” Well, that won't be a problem since those shoes are yours.
When I created Ebooks the Smart Way, I created that book for myself. It includes everything I wanted to know back when I wrote my first ebook for GreenExamAcademy. Even though it was written after I had published my first two ebooks, I wrote it as if I had the ability to go back into time and give it to myself before I wrote my first one.
Not to toot my own horn, but people are telling me that Ebooks the Smart Way is one of the best and easiest to read guides on publishing and selling an ebook, which is exactly what I want it to be.
You Become Your Own Test Market
After you've completed a product for yourself, it's easy to test on your own and quickly make any necessary updates or changes.
If you're designing something for somebody else, it takes a lot of time to go back and forth between parties and even when changes are suggested, they are not always put into place correctly the first time around.
You Become The Proof
You may have heard this quote before:
“I'm not only the president, but I'm also a client.”
This famous motto is from the Hair Club for Men commercials (here's a clip from youtube), and is a perfect example of “you become the proof.”
If you can create a product for yourself and show that it works, you'll be more likely to get other people excited about that product too.
My Upcoming Special Project
The reason for writing this post, other than because Rework (Full disclosure: I earn income if you purchase through this affiliate link) is one of the best books I've read in a long long time and I just had to expand on this particular idea of “scratching your own itch” here on the blog for you, is because I'm soon coming out with my own product and I'm definitely scratching my own itch.
I cannot disclose exactly what the product is just yet, and yes I'm partly trying to create buzz for it (I'm just being honest!), but here's what I can tell you now:
- This product is not an ebook, course or membership website about how to blog, make money online or anything like that. Even though I've been asked several times to create one (and people have offered to pay me if I created one, which is totally awesome, thank you!), I think that's just what everyone expects me to do next. Although I may eventually do something like that, I know that part of the reason why people follow me and why SPI has blown up is because I do things a little differently here, so I'll continue to step out of my comfort zone and try something different.
- The product is actually a WordPress Plugin that I so desperately need. There is nothing like it available today, but even if no one else downloads it, I'll be happy because it will save me hours a day, and make my life as a blogger and internet entrepreneur a whole lot easier.
- I've already found a plugin developer to work with me on this project, and it's underway as we speak.
- The few people I have discussed this project with (some who are A-list bloggers that I met at Blog World Expo), were really excited about it too.
Because it's for me, the mock-ups were really easy to design and I know once it's live on this blog, you'll see just how useful it can be.
I'm sorry to leave you hanging like that, but there will be more on this special project soon. Once it's revealed, you can be sure I'll go over the process with you from start to finish.
Thanks for your support, and I wish you all the best. Cheers!