A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

Frazzled? Overwhelmed? Try Creating a Product Roadmap!

product roadmap
A product roadmap helps you figure out
where your business is going.
Amy asked, in a recent comment, “Do you have a plan on how not to overwhelm yourself promoting 10 products after they are all launched? Thinking of your 10 separate products reminds me of the traditional business advice of only focusing on one start-up at a time. Do you think it’s better to launch 10 products that perform ‘ok’ as opposed to 1 product that performs great?”

Great question, Amy! I’ve shared my goal about creating 10 products in 2010, but I haven’t talked much about how they all fit together…

The Problem: Infinite Opportunities

It is possible to do a nearly infinite number of things to make money online. There isn’t just one “proven path” to riches…witness the huge number of crazy inventions that make their inventors millions. (Ever had that feeling… “I could have done that! I should have done that!” Right? Me too!)

I want to do so many things. I’d love to write a book to help out people who are discovering that they have gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. I know that would be profitable. I constantly have ideas for WordPress plugins, video products, a product on great businesses to start online…

Pretty quickly, I had to learn to focus. I had to think strategically…not only about which products would make me the most money, but how those products would integrate with each other. This is the real key.

Step 1: Test With a Free Product

I started testing the market for blogging success materials by releasing my free Blog Success Manifesto. I went over the top with it as a free product. It’s 62 pages, jam-packed with practical advice on growing your blog faster than you ever have before. I could have easily charged $17-$27 for it, but I wanted the readership growth instead. (And I got it…nearly 4,000 people have downloaded their free copies!)

More importantly, the success of my free download proved there was a market that was interested in growing their blogs. I then launched my Guest Post Secrets product to serve that same market. I edited my Blog Success Manifesto to refer to Guest Post Secrets, and put a big mention about it here on my blog. Now I had two products working together, like this:

product roadmap v1

Step 2: Go Upmarket

My next step was to present a higher-ticket offer. I created my one-day workshop and offered a free webinar to my list (most of whom joined up originally because my Blog Success Manifesto.) I sold 4 out of the 5 slots right away, and the 5th one closed later. (That means my first San Diego workshop is now sold out! Hooray!)

These products worked in tandem like this:

product roadmap v2

Step 3: Fill in the Blanks

Now I wanted to create more products. Once you have a couple of paid products out the door, you can start filling in the blanks.

Part of Best Blogs will be a mailing list bloggers can sign up to, so I added that into my roadmap. Then I launched Blog Set Up as another low-price opt-in similar to Blog Success Manifesto:

product roadmap v3

My next product will be an intermediate product offering an hour with me for $497:

product roadmap v4

And then, I plan to release a product guiding people step-by-step through setting up their blog and driving traffic to it:

product roadmap v5

It’s pretty cool to see how these products fit together, isn’t it?

The key here is that once you have a buyer, you need to offer more products to that person. It’s much easier to sell something to someone who has already bought something else from you. If you don’t have the products to fill in the blanks, you should go out there and find great affiliate products that you are happy to promote, and make money that way.

Step 4: Automate

The final step in your roadmap–after you’ve launched some products–is to automate much of the cross-selling. You can do this with an email autoresponder series — something I plan to talk about in a later post. (I use Aweber as my email service, and recommend them.)

Four days after you download my Blog Success Manifesto, my email autoresponder follows up with you to make sure you got the download–and also introduces you to Guest Post Secrets. The Guest Post Secrets homepage allows you to opt in to see some high-value free videos, and over a 4-day period, gives you a special deal on buying Guest Post Secrets.

As I launch larger products, I will integrate these into my autoresponders, too. My goal is to have a defined roadmap of products to create in a “funnel” that automatically rolls people over from buying a low-ticket product like Blog Set Up or a free product like Blog Success Manifesto into buying higher-ticket items. Many of these products will be hands-off on my part, allowing for an automated income stream of thousands of dollars a month.

It is incredibly difficult to make a million dollars online selling one-off products…especially if they are inexpensive ebooks. Here’s a typical example: A person decides to make money online. They sell a dog training ebook, then the next month peddle psoriasis cures, then leap to the “make money online” niche. They now have three different lists, each with only a handful of people. And imagine trying to write content about dog training, psoriasis, AND making money online all in a few days! Forget it.

Multiple products are a good thing. But without a product roadmap, and a plan of action for seeing how they all fit together, multiple products are less than worthless. I vastly prefer becoming an expert in a few small fields and selling products in those fields only. I may pass on the next overhyped “million-dollar idea!”, but I can feel confident that every customer I gain will pay off far more than the people who simply hard-sell one or two items.

Repurposing Your Products

By the way, here’s a roadmap I’ve been developing for my next set of products:
new product roadmap

You may see now how some of my existing products can be re-purposed for a different audience. Can your products do that? If not, you may want to consider changing your product roadmap.

Questions, or comments? What’s your product roadmap? Let me know in the comments!

Recommended Reading:

  • How To Make A Mind Map. Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed by some of the projects you are working on…like you’ve set an impossible goal? Here’s a video on how to make a mind map and get all that junk out of your head…quickly and easily!
  • Creating A New Product. A four-step guide to creating your first product.
  • Products I Love. If you haven’t seen this yet, check it out…it’s the full list of all the products I use on a regular basis and recommend!

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After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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