The Writer In You

By Jeremy Deighan

Welcome back to the Digital Product Blog. In the previous post, we went through the main categories of digital products. Today we are going to talk about some specific types that fit into those categories. This isn't everything out there, but just to give you some ideas about things you can create. 

We talked about the categories of written form, audio form, art and design, photography, video, software, and education. As I explained, there may be some crossover. For instance, education is done as an application or software, or in video or written form. Crossovers aside, what we're going to do moving forward is to break these broad categories down into smaller, digestible sections. 

Digital Products for Writers

So we're going to start off with the written form today. I'm going to talk about why it's a great platform, how it works, and why you might want to try it. Later on, I’ll break down the different types of writing you can create. And in the next installments, I'll break it down further, and give you examples of the written digital products you can make.

Person Writing on Sidewalk
Person Writing on Sidewalk

I want to try to give as many examples of different industries and niches as possible, so you can start thinking about what you can create. There are so many different hobbies, passions, experiences and careers out there, that what works for me might not work for you. But think about what you love to do, and what can you create a product around. 

Because this is all about you. 

I enjoy surfing, playing guitar, and computers. I’m interested in business and things like that. But those things might not be your interest. So as I'm talking about digital products and giving examples, I hope you’ll think about how can you apply this to your life, and what you enjoy doing the most.

Today we're talking about written digital products. What is that? Basically anything in text form in an electronic file. For example, an ebook available for sale and download online is a type of written digital product. 

It's not always going to be necessarily just text. For instance, you might create training manuals or other visual documents, which would include design elements in addition to text. Conversely, you might create a piece that is primarily design elements, but in a book or document format, like an infographic or something like that. So keep in mind that the parameters of the categories aren't set in stone; these things are fluid, and some of them crossover from one form to another. But when we talk about written digital products, we mean written as opposed to audio, graphic design, photography, etc.

The great thing about the written form is that there are many people out there who love to read. I like to read, and I've read a lot of books--probably more in the past couple of years than in the rest of my lifetime. But I wouldn't say text is my favorite form. My favorite medium is audio; I love podcasts and listening, especially for learning. 

But lots of other people prefer to read books. They can read an instructional book, understand how to do whatever that thing is, and go do it. Other people need more visuals, to watch a video or to watch someone in person. Everyone learns in different ways, so don’t discount one method just because it’s not your preferred way to learn. (We will talk later about outsourcing and getting help to create some of these things for you if you don't know how to do them). But even though writing isn't my favorite thing to do, I do try to think of ways that I can turn my content into written form. That way I can sell to an audience of readers in addition to those who prefer audio, visual, or online classes. 

Everyone learns in different ways, so don’t discount one method just because it’s not your preferred way to learn.

Another consideration is that people consume information and digital products at different times of the day. If I’m having a cup of coffee in the morning, I can sit down and read something on my phone or tablet. Someone sitting at work on their lunch break might prefer to read something, rather than listen or watch videos. Then, when I'm out jogging or mowing the lawn, I want to have the audio format so I can listen while I’m doing something else. Then, maybe late at night, if I'm sitting in front of the computer, I can watch a video.

It’s about convenient access to information, and the cool thing is you can utilize content across all these different platforms. So you can make a video and translate that into an audio file, and then convert the audio into a written format. 

Keep in mind as we go through these: what are some things you love to do? And how can you apply these ideas into what you love, and make a product you can sell online? That's what this is all about. 

As we talk about different written formats, keep in mind that I'll break these down and give you some more examples in future installments. And remember, you don’t always have to be the one writing these digital products yourself. There are ways to create content and have other people help you write and edit the finished product. 

The Basic Formats

Let’s start with the most basic written format, PDF files. What is a PDF file? Portable Document Format (.pdf) is a very common file type, which can be read almost universally by computers, tablets, and smartphones, using Adobe Acrobat Reader. If your computer doesn't have Acrobat Reader already, you will be prompted to download the software when you open a PDF document from the internet or email. It's an easy, free download, and allows you to read any PDF from any source. 

Adobe Acrobat Logo
Adobe Acrobat Logo

People frequently exchange PDFs, because they can be read across a lot of platforms. So when you create something like an ebook or training manual, you might put it in a PDF file format. Your customers can open it up on their phones, computers, or tablets, and read it like a book. So it's a really popular format. 

PDFs aren't always books. These files can be a single page, an infographic, a worksheet, all these different things. So PDFs encompass many different types of written pieces. 

For example, you can create a PDF of your workbook for a course or a graphic that accompanies your audio podcast, and put them up on your website and either give them away under certain circumstances or charge people however much you think is appropriate. 

There are other file formats that you can use in addition to PDFs, but PDFs are one of the most common ones for written pieces. It can be used for written products you're selling, that you give away for free. Later, we'll talk more about that free method also.

Text-Based Digital Products

The next product type is ebooks. Ebooks are just what they sound like: electronic books.

Expert Secrets
Expert Secrets

So it's anything that you can produce in a book format and sell online. Typically, it's in a PDF format, ePub, or .mobi file. Ebooks are multiple pages, from short booklets about five pages long up to full-length books, from fifty to thousands of pages.

Depending on the content, value, and the length of the book, and the information within, you can offer the books at different price points. I mean, you might have a two to five page ebook that you want to sell for $5, $10, $20, or $50. Or you could write a multi-hundred page ebook that sells for a couple of hundred dollars. It all depends on the content that you're providing in it, and the value to the customer. Ebooks are very easy to make. In later blogs, I'll talk about different ways you might be able to create ebooks. 

Recipe books, for example, are very popular. I have heard of many people being successful online by taking their knowledge of food and cooking and putting it into a recipe book. Recipe books are usually ebooks in PDF format. So you can see how those things go together.

And then we have documents. Documents include things like resumes, business letters, or sales order forms. You can create these things and sell them to people online. People are looking for those resources. If you know how to create resumes, for example, you can sell resume documents online. 

You can also create templates. A template is a document, with information left off for the end-user to fill out. You might create a resume, but have the fields labeled so that I, as the customer, can download that template, open it in my word processor, and type in my information. That's an example of a template you can sell. We'll talk about templates quite a lot because you can use them for a lot of things, and they're very popular. You can create audio templates, design templates, or even video templates. You're creating a base file that other people can use and change for themselves. 

Written products can also include educational content, in which you teach something, typically through an ebook. If you want to teach software or how to cook, you could do that through an ebook. There are workbooks, cheat sheets and worksheets. Anything that would facilitate education and instruction.

For example, maybe you teach a foreign language, and you want to provide a book on how to speak it. Or you could offer a workbook that gives them prompts to fill out. Those are valuable things that people would be willing to pay for. 

You can also create instructional books, manuals, and training material. One popular one, I’ve mentioned before that I see often, is woodworking. People make instructional manuals on how to create different woodworking projects. It might be something like 50 common woodworking projects for $25 and include things like the plans for making a chair, a table, a desk, etc. These are put into a PDF format that people can buy and download. 

There are also pattern books, which are really cool. These are collections of sewing and knitting patterns. So if you want to learn how to sew an outfit or knit a sweater a certain way, you can buy the patterns that show you how to do this. Instead of going to a craft or fabric store to search for something, you can find it online and download the pattern instantly. If you're someone who likes to do any of these things--crocheting, sewing, knitting, and other crafts--you can create books of patterns (or individual documents) that you can sell. 

KnitPicks Website
KnitPicks Website

You could start your own magazine or newsletter if you have expertise on a particular topic. You could charge a monthly membership fee, and every day or every week or however often you want, you send out a digital magazine or newsletter on a specific topic.

Finally, there are reports. People love data, but don’t always have time to collect the newest data on a certain subject. You could compile the data together, put it in a report and sell that.

That's a pretty long list of different written products that you could create. In the next couple of blogs, we'll break them down further, and I'll give you some more ideas. But as you can see, with writing, there are a lot of different digital products you can create and sell online. 

So my question to you is, do any of these sound appealing? Would you like to teach something through an ebook, manual or workbook? Could you create sewing patterns or woodworking plans or something like that? As we go forward, we'll start talking about how can you create these things and how can you get them online and available for sale.


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