How to Create a KILLER Digital Product with Molly Keyser

How I Built It
How I Built It
How to Create a KILLER Digital Product with Molly Keyser
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Molly Keyser made half-a-million dollars selling a 15-page, $59 eBook without spending money on ads. How do you ask? She created something SUPER valuable, that immediately made the buyer money. And throughout this episode, Molly is going to tell us how she went from professional photographer to online educator making digital products, all by knowing and serving her niche. There’s A LOT to unpack, and I know you’ll find a lot of actionable tips here.

Top Takeaways:

  • Clearly define your niche so you can serve them, and stay true to that niche. Remember: Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you should teach it.
  • For your digital products, you need to solve a problem for your audience. Painkillers sell better than vitamins most of the time. And bonus points if you can point to immediate ROI.
  • If you (or you from 2 years ago) aren’t your ideal client, immerse yourself in communities of your ideal clients so that you can learn their biggest pain points.

Show Notes:

Transcript

Joe Casabona: Did you know that you could get even longer interviews with some of the most successful creators? You can with How I Built It Pro. With How I Built It Pro, you get extended ad-free versions of every episode.

We cover things like pricing memberships, how to make a course creation even faster, building a creator business while also parenting, current events, and more.

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Molly Keyser made half a million dollars selling a 15-page $59 eBook without spending money on ads. “How?” you ask. She created something super valuable that immediately made the buyer money. They were able to implement what they learned in those 15 pages, which included front and back matter, by the way, quickly and easily.

Throughout this episode, Molly is going to tell you how she went from professional photographer to online educator making digital products, all by knowing and serving her niche, her ideal client, something that we’ve already talked about a lot in this year.

There’s a lot to unpack and I know you’ll find actionable tips here. Look for some of the best takeaways from this episode like how to clearly define your niche, solving problems for your ideal customers, and how painkillers sell better than vitamins most of the time, and what to do if you or you from two years ago aren’t your ideal clients. How do you figure out how to best serve them then? This is a great episode. Molly and I had a fantastic conversation.

In How I Built It Pro, we talk about how you can create one product that’s a roadmap. That’s what she’s doing now. And we get into the nitty-gritty of how she creates her courses. You can find all of the show notes over at howibuilt.it/298.

Thanks so much to this week’s sponsors, Ahrefs, Paid Memberships Pro, and LearnDash. You’ll hear about them more later on in the episode. But for now, let’s get to the intro and then the interview.

[00:02:48] <music>

Intro: Hey everybody, and welcome to How I Built It, the podcast where you get free coaching calls from successful creators. Each week you get actionable advice on how you can build a better content business to increase revenue and establish yourself as an authority. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Now let’s get to it.

[00:03:10] <music>

Joe Casabona: Hey everybody, and welcome to Episode 298 of How I Built It. Today’s sponsors are Ahrefs, Paid Memberships Pro, and LearnDash. I’m really excited because I’m talking to Molly Kaiser, she is the owner and CEO of Freedom Creator. And in the pre-show, Molly told me a very interesting thing and I want to jump right into it.

So first of all, Molly, how are you today? Thanks for joining us.

Molly Keyser: I am great. Very excited to continue chatting.

Joe Casabona: Yes, yes. We had a really great pre-show. If you want to hear it, you can become a member of How I Built It Pro over at howibuilt.it/pro. But you told me that you at one point had over 100 digital products. How did you do that? How long did it take you? What was it like managing those things?

Molly Keyser: First of all, I want to start off by saying, don’t have 100 digital products. So when I started into the online digital product space in 2014, it was sort of like a… You know, there weren’t a lot of people doing it and not a lot of people that I knew about. So it was just really a lot of trial and error.

I was just really creating a lot of things. And given my background with like design and photography I really like creating, which can be a blessing and a curse. Because in order to have a successful business I have learned over the years that it is very important to focus. But I did learn a lot putting out lots of different digital products.

Like we had a boutique templates store, we had eBooks, courses, memberships. Like name a digital product and I’ve done it. So that part was cool because now I know today what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, what order you should probably do them in, you know, what products are easier than others. But ultimately after doing that many products I decided to focus so I could scale my business.

Joe Casabona: Nice. And that’s a really good first lesson to take away I think. Because I did the same thing. In May of 2022, I was all over the place doing like WordPress development courses, and no code courses and podcasting stuff, and how to make your own course. I just decided I’m gonna focus fully on podcasting stuff.

Even as this episode comes out, I will be creating my last LinkedIn Learning Course for a while. I have like 20 in the library. And I’m like, “You know, this is taking away from my core mission.” Not that I don’t love it. I love making LinkedIn Learning Courses. But that’s really the lesson here, right? You got to pick what you love the most or where’s your time best spent?

Molly Keyser: Yeah, for sure. My very first online educational digital business was education for photographers, because I was a professional photographer for 16 years. So like I said, I didn’t know really what to get started with. I knew I wanted to do digital products so that I could not have to take as many one-on-one service clients.

So I started with a posing guide, which you don’t have to do like posing for it to be a guide. It can be about anything, which was essentially just like a PDF with different poses that photographers could take with them to their photoshoots so that they didn’t have to think of what poses to do, which is what makes a good digital product, the fact that you’re saving someone time and helping them with something. And then that just sort of spiraled into the 100.

Joe Casabona: So the 100 digital products, were they all focused on photography, or was it like a bunch of different things and a bunch of kind of different niches that you were experimenting with?

Molly Keyser: Well, the one thing that I did right looking back was I did always stay true to my niche. So every digital product was for photographers. That was who I was serving, what the business was. Like I said, there was like a posing guide. We had a boutique of templates. If you’re a photographer and you needed an order form for when you’re sitting down with your clients, we had that made. If you needed a branded label for a bottle of wine to give to a client as a gift, we had that made. We had partnership. I don’t even know what we call them. Partnership templates or whatever. So if you wanted to partner with someone in your city, do like a business collab you have things that you need.

Joe Casabona: Oh, yeah, like all agreement or something?

Molly Keyser: Yeah, exactly.

Joe Casabona: Nice. That’s awesome. I think a lot of people struggle with coming up with ideas for these digital products. I mean, before we do that, you say digital products. Were these all sold for money? Were some of them given away as opt-ins?

Molly Keyser: That’s a great question. I am a huge fan of freebies. So I do always have freebies where it’s like… So an eBook, for example, you can sell that for money but you can also give one away for free in exchange for someone’s name and email address to build your email list. I had both. I had digital products that I sold and then I had digital things that I gave away for free.

For example, we had a posing guide that we would give away for free, but it was just… I think we called it a posing sheet. And it was just 18 by 10 piece of paper with some poses on it. It’s kind of like a sample. And then we would link to the bigger PDF posing guide. That kind of a thing.

Joe Casabona: Oh, cool. That’s really smart. It’s, I guess, the same thing with like a digital course. Right? You can give the first lesson or the first few lessons away for free for an email address, and then say like, “Oh-

Molly Keyser: It’s like a sample at Costco.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Awesome. And so you had 100 of these some free, some paid. How did you come up with the ideas? Because I think this is something a lot of people struggle with, right? What does my blog post going to be about? What should my next podcast episode be about? What should this PDF be on?

Molly Keyser: Anytime you go to create a product of any kind, it really needs to solve a problem for your ideal customer. Back then what I was doing was I basically was my ideal client. And so that made it really easy because I don’t even know that I knew that I was doing it correct at the time, but essentially, I was like, “Oh, well, we need an order form for our studio. So let’s create this digitally.” And then we would print them off.

But then we’re like, “Oh, since we already have this created for us, let’s just put this on our website and sell it.” So basically all the things we were creating for our studio already to be successful, we just thought, “Oh, well, why don’t we just put these for sale?” I mean, we were really doing things right without even knowing it, which is interesting.

Joe Casabona: That’s really smart. And that kind of harkens back to something that Will Schultz said in the previous episode of the show, Episode 297, where he said an ideal customer… This really resonated with me, right? Because he said creating an ideal customer avatar is basically guesswork.

If you’re trying to create content for your business, you should take something you’ve written for a client or customer, and then generalize it and make that your content. And it sounds like you did the same exact thing with your digital products. You were your ideal client. You said, “We need this. I bet other photographers or photographer studios need this. So we’re going to sell our version of it.”

Molly Keyser: Yeah, absolutely. And with my current business that I have right now, Freedom Creator, which is where we help any business owners, coaches or content creators create digital products, I wasn’t necessarily the ideal client for that because I had already built a $2 million business, $2 million a year with digital products.

So what I would recommend is if you aren’t your ideal client, try to really think about people you know, or go out and immerse yourself in that community and really meet people, like I would highly recommend in person, or you’re probably going to spend a long time fumbling, trying to figure out the nuances, the way that ideal customer speaks, what they think, what they need, what their problems are, because… I just can’t stress enough how important that is.

And so if you’re not your ideal client, which it is ideal if you are, but if you’re not, I would like… Because I always think to myself, I have this friend that I met through this YouTube training that I took. Her name is Ruby. And now whenever I create any products, any content, anything, I’m like, “I’m creating this for Ruby.” And I just like keep it in mind like she’s sort of the ideal client that I have. But I didn’t just create her from scratch. She’s a real person that I just think about when I create things.

Joe Casabona: Right. And I think that’s the thing. Whenever I made an ideal customer avatar, they always ended up looking shockingly like me: like dude in his 30s who has kids, who wants to start a podcast so that he doesn’t have to do client work. And I’m like, All right, that’s like a fake person, or that’s like… I’m not really… where I am in my journey is a lot ahead of where my target audience is. So I shouldn’t really be creating content that helps me, I should think about me from a couple of years ago.

Molly Keyser: That’s true.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. I really like that. Immerse yourself in the community. This is something that comes up time and time again on this show. Like you need to talk to people to understand the problems that you are solving for those people. You can’t just… Well, you can guess but it’s going to be a much longer, much harder road for you.

Molly Keyser: Oh, absolutely. Even with starting… so we started again, Freedom Creator like end of 2020. So really 2021. But, you know, I was like, “Oh, I’ve done ideal clients. I know what I’m doing. I should just get started. I could have been where we are today a lot faster had I actually taken my own advice and went out to business networking meetings and met people, you know? But I thought I knew who our ideal client was, and so I just sort of like, like we’ve talked about, made it up on paper.

But if I ever was to start another business, which I don’t think I will, but if I was to, because I really like the business I have now, but I would absolutely go out mingle, network, meet people until I met in-person my ideal client. And then I would just think about that person whenever I created something because I just really think you’re gonna have success way faster.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. And just to tack on or pile on to that anecdote, I guess, one of the things that I thought was going to be my killer, like differentiator was I was going to show people that you don’t need sponsors to make money. Which I believe with your podcast. Which I believe.

So I started making all this content, “You don’t need downloads, you don’t need content. You just need these things.” And as people started reaching out to me and asking me and hiring me for coaching calls or whatever, they’d be like, “Yeah, but how do I get sponsors?” And I’m like, “right.” So if I talked to people before-

Molly Keyser: I was gonna say they probably want sponsors.

Joe Casabona: They all want to know. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that sounds great. But how do I get sponsors?” So now guess what a lot of my content is focused on.

Molly Keyser: I’m only laughing because I’ve totally done the same thing. Yeah.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. We’ve mentioned kind of focusing a couple of times. You had over 100 digital products, you said you don’t recommend that. How did you thin the herd of your digital products, if you will?

Molly Keyser: I do love that today. I’m such a better teacher for having created so many different products. However, I wouldn’t recommend it. Like, you’re just gonna have success a lot faster. And I will tell you numbers-wise what happens when you focus in.

So I had 100 digital products, and what I decided to do was focus all in on one online course for, again, photographers. One online course. And I did keep our one eBook that did $500,000 with no ads, which I think we’re going to chat about in a little bit. I did keep that because essentially it was like our own value ladder where we had a freebie, and then we had a low-priced eBook, and then we had our course.

So really, strategically, we’re like, “We’re gonna move people up the, quote-unquote, “ladder,” so to speak.” So that works really well. But our sole focus was on this one course. And when we did that, when we switched from those 100 products to just essentially one, we went from really zero, because we got rid of all that income, to $2 million in revenue a year in two years.

Joe Casabona: Wow. Wow.

Molly Keyser: That’s what I said.

Joe Casabona: That’s amazing. So focusing all in on one online course. It means that you’re not a house divided. That all of your marketing efforts, all of your email efforts, they all go to promoting this one thing instead of sitting down and going, “Hmm, which products should I promote today?” Right?

Molly Keyser: Absolutely. And one of the things we did that I think a lot of people kind of have the same thought process, you’ll have to let me know if you’ve ever had this thought process, but essentially, I had created all those 100 digital products but four of those were courses. And I thought to myself, “Okay, well, photographers need to learn business, they need to learn marketing, they need to learn the posing and the shooting. I can’t even think of the fourth one… It must have been really good. Just kidding.

But we had four because we were like, “Oh, these are the four pillar.” Oh, sales. Sales. That what’s most important. But anyways, those were the four. Because I was like, “Oh, well, then that way, if someone just wants to learn sales, then they’ll just buy the sales course.” Well, what happened was, they would only-

Joe Casabona: Oh my God. You are talking about the past me.

Molly Keyser: Well, what happened is they would just buy the course that they thought they needed. And I’m not trying to be rude to them or anything because I’ve done this myself, but they will often pick the wrong course for what they actually needed. So I was like, “Man, I’m actually doing these people a huge disservice.” So we ended up putting all of our educational materials into one course as a roadmap to get them from where they are now to the result of having a six-figure or multiple six-figure photography business.

And that’s really what I focus on today. Like we have one course. It’s called Profitable Courses. We help business owners, coaches, content creators go from where they are now to profitably kickstarting their course and then automating it for passive income. It’s like an exact roadmap to the result that they want, which is passive income.

So you have to really think about, okay, where are your people now? What’s the one result they want? And the result is not live a happier life. You have to really hone it into like, what is the actual result they want. Like with you, you totally have that honed in, you’re like, “Oh, I’m gonna help people create profitable podcasts.” Like that’s incredible.

Joe Casabona: Thank you.

Molly Keyser: And then when you have that flagship course, you’re not going to need all these other things. It’s sort of like when you go to a restaurant, and they have one of those giant frickin menus that’s like pages and pages and pages. I hate that. I’m like, “Man, this food cannot be good if they’re stocking this much in the back.”

Joe Casabona: I’m suspicious if somebody who-

Molly Keyser: I know. Like this is sauce that you’re selling, like chicken nuggets and-

Joe Casabona: And like lobster.

Molly Keyser: Yeah, exactly. And then you go to a great restaurant where it’s just one page, front side only, they only have couple dishes the day or whatever, and they do those really frickin well. That’s kind of how I look at it.

Joe Casabona: I like that a lot. And I gotta tell you, you really described me. At first, I launched a podcast website course only because I thought, well, everybody else is teaching how to launch a podcast. And then again, the question I kept getting was like, “Hey, this course is great, but how do I launch my podcast?” And I’m like, “All right well,” I’ll do that.” Now I have two courses, but like, oh, I’ll do like how to monetize your podcast and how to be consistent podcaster.” These will be for discrete courses and they’ll be great.

And then I realized that, like you said, people would want to make money but they weren’t being consistent. And you can’t really have one without the other. So then I just made them all. Now it’s called the Podcast Liftoff Playbook. You can totally like, just pick and choose certain videos if you want, but I have collections. I kind of stole like the masterclass model that they’re doing right now. Like masterclass.com.

Molly Keyser: Okay, cool. I like master class. You’ve obviously done so many things. And the cool thing that you just said that you really did right that I want to point out to everyone listening is that Joe listened. So even though you didn’t want to initially… Like initially you wanted to say, “Oh, you don’t need podcast sponsors.” But then you kept hearing from your ideal clients, “No, we want podcast sponsors.” So you didn’t just go, “Ah, well, I’m gonna stick to what I’m doing.” You’re like, “Oh, okay.” You’re listening. You’re pivoting. You’re learning as you go. That is so important.

Joe Casabona: Thank you. This is a hard lesson, right? Because you really believe that you think a certain way, or sometimes it’s hard to hear hard feedback or whatever. And then there was the whole movement in the maybe like mid-2000s when 37signals/Basecamp got big, and DAH and Jason… I forget his last name right now. But they were like, “You should always say no to your customers. And we always say no because we know better.” I feel like a lot of people internalized that. And that’s great for just random feature requests. But their business was built on solving a specific problem that they knew how to solve already.

Molly Keyser: Every business is. I love that.

Joe Casabona: Really interesting. DAH is on my list of people who everybody loves that I don’t see it. But that’s fine.

Molly Keyser: I don’t know DAH. I don’t know. I don’t know what this is. I know what Basecamp. It’s kind of like an Asana sort of, but more for designers.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. They were like one of the first online project management systems.

Molly Keyser: Never heard of it.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. 37signals and DAH, Heinemeier Hansson invented-

Molly Keyser: They must be more of a design community thing. I don’t know.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, totally is. DAH invented Ruby on Rails.

Molly Keyser: Do you know HoneyBook?

Joe Casabona: Yeah, I’ve heard of HoneyBook.

Molly Keyser: You do. Okay. Because that’s kind of a photographer thing. So yeah.

Joe Casabona: I just like tools. I like to look at a lot of different tools.

Molly Keyser: Oh, my gosh we’re opposites. My husband is all the tech and tools and he’s like, “Oh, what do you think of this mic?” “It sounds great.” He’s like, “You didn’t even look at it.” I’m like, “I don’t care.”

Joe Casabona: “It doesn’t matter.” That’s so funny. This is great. So first of all, yeah, thank you for highlighting that. Absolutely, listen to your customers. You’re not going to have a business if you never listen to them.

So you mentioned your eBook that did $500,000 and you mentioned that along with… I forget the wording you use but Product Ladder is how I’ve heard it put, where you have like your core offering and then people can go up the rungs of the ladder to get the high end thing or down the rungs of the ladder to get the lower end thing and then at the very bottom there’s like the free thing. And each of these offer different levels of help or handholding.

So like my product ladder would be the playbook is in the middle and then at the very top is my Done For You service, and at the bottom is my podcast launch checklists that you can get for free.

Molly Keyser: Okay.

Joe Casabona: Can we dig into the product ladder? I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this on my show. That’s a really interesting concept.

Molly Keyser: Yeah, absolutely. So I had already been doing this without knowing that it was called something. And then I read… I think it was Russell Brunson. I’ve studied a lot of his stuff. I was in his inner circle mastermind for a couple years. He has three books. He has DotCom Secrets, Expert Secrets, and Traffic Secrets. I think it’s in DotCom, which is the first one. Again, I don’t think he invented this, but it is in his book, if you want to check that out.

Like you said, the first… Just think of it like a staircase. And the first stair is… Well, actually, in my opinion, the first step would be like free content. So it can be podcast, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, whatever. Then you would go to some sort of a freebie. There’s a lot of different ways to do this but this is the way that I like to do it. So some kind of freebie.

And then once they do that, then they can get onto your email list and then maybe you… There’s really a lot of different ways you can do this. But maybe you have a low price product and then maybe a mid-price product and a high price.

So a lot of people will do, you know, maybe like… Back in the day, with our 500k eBook, we did test different price points, but the main price point it sold that was about $59.

Joe Casabona: Wow.

Molly Keyser: So we had that eBook. Then we had a course for $997 at one point, and then we had like a $6,000 course at one point. So that would just be an example of a ladder. So 0, $59, $997, and then a high ticket.

But again, you don’t have to do it that way. Right now the way that I do it is I actually have… So I have a YouTube channel. That’s like my first thing. Then I have actually a number of freebies. And the reason we have multiple freebies is because since I have my YouTube channel, I talk about different pillars. So we have basically a freebie for each pillar.

So that way in the video, if I’m talking about social media, I can say, “Oh, check out the description below for this thing that…” I like to make sure the freebie relates to what I’m talking about. So social content, then the freebie, then we have an eBook. And right now we have one for $29, then we have our $997 course.

I’ve done the whole… this is probably a whole entirely different conversation. But I’ve done the whole high ticket sales with the phone calls and all that. And that’s not what I love. I love more of like the passive income 997 courses thing. So that’s what I’m doing today.

Joe Casabona: I think that makes perfect sense. I like what you said, having multiple freebies. Again, don’t have 100, but have a handful. I do the same thing. When I go on other people’s podcast, based on what we talked about, I always offer, “Here’s a tip if you’re going on a lot of podcasts.” Well, maybe you do this already. We haven’t gotten to that point yet.

I always make a landing page with the hosts name as the URL. So it’ll be like podcastliftoff.com/molly, if I’m going on your podcast. And then the opt in will always be based on what we talked about. So I make that page after the interview.

Molly Keyser: That’s smart. And I don’t do that. Writing it down. Writing it down.

Joe Casabona: I was just on AskPat 2.0, Pat Flynn’s podcast.

Molly Keyser: I listened to many of his episodes. I’ve been listening to him since like 2013.

Joe Casabona: I know, right? He’s like an OG.

Molly Keyser: And now he has the Deep Pocket Monster YouTube channel that’s blowing up. Super cool.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, wild. I mentioned that and he’s like, “Yeah, that’s really smart.” I’m like, “Thanks.”

Molly Keyser: Well, this is why you’re teaching podcasters. That’s awesome.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, right. Yeah, absolutely. I always feel like that’s really effective. Because people will remember the host’s theme because they listen. If it’s just like generic opt-in, I’ve tried that, and it just has never worked. So it’s usually I have like four topics and then I have four freebies. So if I talk about planning a podcast, my podcast planner, if I talk about my smash framework, it’s my how to figure out-

Molly Keyser: Your smash framework? I have so many comments.

Joe Casabona: Thank you.

Molly Keyser: I’m just kidding. It’s funny. I was like, “I don’t know he knows where I’m going with that.”

Joe Casabona: I picked that…

Molly Keyser: Oh, I caught you off guard. That’s great.

Joe Casabona: I know. We’ll save that conversation for the pro show.

Molly Keyser: Don’t delete it. Don’t delete it.

Joe Casabona: No, no, no. This stays in. Keep this. So your eBook. I feel like we opened this thread and then people are like, “What do you mean, she made half a million dollars with an eBook?” And we haven’t talked about it.

Molly Keyser: Oh, no, no big.

Joe Casabona: No big. No big. So let’s come back to this. You have an eBook that did half a million dollars in sales with no ad spend. Tell me about that.

Molly Keyser: Okay, so I created this eBook. Man, I wish I remember the exact year that I created it. But my best guess is 2015. And I did sell it for 2016, 17, and 18. So the 500k, just to be clear, is over the course of those years. But it was only $59 product. And this was with no ad spend. To date, this is the best eBook that I’ve ever had and I know exactly why. So I will share that with you guys.

So the eBook was called Model Call. I mean, to those listening, that’s not going to mean anything. But to photographers, essentially, I had created this specific marketing strategy. So I wasn’t teaching in the eBook like how to create a six figure business. I wasn’t creating how to be happier in life. I was teaching them one specific strategy. Only one. Okay, I know I’ve said that a million times, but it’s just so important.

The book was only like 15 pages long and it basically had a cover page, an index page. And these are included in the 15 pages.

Joe Casabona: Wow.

Molly Keyser: It had an about page, so about me. And then there was a strategy page that told them like what Model Call was, how I used it in my business and how they could use it. And then it had examples of different posts that I made on different social medias. Like, what I would post, what I would say. It had like templates, scripts, and screenshots of like how to do everything.

So the majority of the pages weren’t actually like a book per se. Because a lot of people they think of an eBook and they’re like, I’m gonna write a book. I’m like, “It’s not a book, though.” And eBook really is just a PDF format of just one tactical piece of an online course. Like just one strategy. Again, I had this strategy that was pretty much bringing in way the majority of the revenue for my photo business. So I thought, I’m gonna put this into this PDF and sell it.

And the reason I called it Model Call is because essentially what how the strategy worked is we would… I did a lot of like glamour, portraits, like women’s portraits, things like that. So essentially, I would say, like, “Oh, we’re looking for two models,” and we would do the photo shoot and everything, the hair and makeup and everything for them for free. And then we would just show them the photos at the end. And they had no obligation to buy any of the photos. But if they liked the photos, then they could buy them.

This strategy worked so well. And you can apply this to your business too. You know, for me, my problem as a photographer was a lot of women they thought they were fat, they thought they were ugly, they didn’t like how they looked behind the camera, they didn’t think they were natural on camera. They had all these objections about why they didn’t want to get their photo taken.

So I thought if I can just get these women in and show them that a great photographer can not only show you how beautiful you are now, but like, you know, even amplify that, then they’re going to see these and be like, “Wow, these are the best photos ever taken of me, and then they’re going to want to buy them.” And that’s exactly what happened.

So I put this strategy into this PDF. Essentially we didn’t even… Like it’s crazy. I just put it on my website and I probably sent out some emails about it or something like that. We got, you know, maybe 50 sales right away from our email list. And I kid you not, because the eBook was so good and got photographers results so quickly, they just started telling everyone about it.

Like pretty much any Facebook group that talked about photography at the time, you could search the words Model Call and ever gonna be talking about it. So if you create a strategy that gets someone an actual result quickly and easily, they will tell other people about it. And that’s the free word-of-mouth marketing.

And if people aren’t doing that, the cold hard truth is that it’s not a good enough of an eBook or a strategy. Because you will know that you’ve hit a home run when people start to do the marketing for you. We did for a little while pay some other educators to affiliate it because they essentially begged me, but it was only for a little bit. You know, way the majority was just the people who bought it, loved it, and just told everyone about it.

I’ve closed down that business I did. I was in the photography industry for 16 years and I just really wanted to move on to teaching digital products. I was actually able to sell the IP of that eBook to another educator. So that’s kind of something cool about eBooks, too. It’s like not only did I use this for my business and help a lot of people at the time, but I also was able to actually sell it when I wanted to move on to something else. So I thought that was pretty cool.

[00:33:52] <music>

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[00:37:30] <music>

Joe Casabona: So I have a couple of follow-up questions here.

Molly Keyser: Sure.

Joe Casabona: Well, one is a follow-up comment because I’m like an obnoxious person at conferences. It is more of a comment than a question. You keep saying “the one thing,” but I think that’s really, really important. Because I think a lot of creators think that if they want to add value to their community, course, book, whatever, membership, then they need to stuff it with content and stuff it with features.

But people aren’t buying your features. They’re buying the outcome. The way this became crystal clear for me was over the summer I was trying to get my son, he’s two, I was trying to get him into the backyard. We were in the front yard. There were a lot of cars on our street that day, and he’s like at flight risk.

So I was like, “Let’s go into the backyard. It’s fenced.” I said, “Do you want to go to the backyard?” He said, “No.” And I said, “Come on. Let’s go let’s go jump on the trampoline?” And he said no. And I said, “Hey, do you want to fly really high? Or whatever I said there.” And he’s like, “Yeah.” He knew that that was bouncing on the trampoline. So it wasn’t the location he cared about, it wasn’t even the thing that he cared about. It was-

Molly Keyser: It was the result.

Joe Casabona: It was the results. Yeah, exactly. And I was like, “Man, my two year old just taught me the most important marketing lesson in the world.”

Molly Keyser: That is so cool. If you have not written an email or done a podcast on that, you should. That’s great.

Joe Casabona: I did. I did write an email about it which is why I backpedaled on exactly what I said because I know I wrote it down. And I don’t want people to be like, “You said this and then that.” But I think that’s really important. Because again 15-page long eBook where there was a lot of like front and back matter, you sold it for 59 bucks because the people who bought it knew that they were going to make way more than 59 bucks the first time they tried Model Call. That’s so great. I have a lot of ideas now for like what my eBook could be.

Molly Keyser: Oh, good. Because I will say, you know, that is the hardest part and the part you should actually spend the most time on when it comes to a result-based ebook. Because I said, if you can nail that, if you can truly get someone a tangible win and… Money based is great, but if you can’t do a money-based one, you can do, you know, reduce stress, save time. There’s different results you could do.

I mean, if you think about it, my average photo sale at the time was three grand for one client. Now, not every photographer does that, obviously. Let’s say they’re a shoot-and-burn and they do 300 bucks first. I don’t think people do CDs anymore-

Joe Casabona: I was wondering what the burn part was.

Molly Keyser: A Dropbox file?

Joe Casabona: USB.

Molly Keyser: I don’t do it-

Joe Casabona: Our wedding photographer gave us a USB. It was like-

Molly Keyser: I’m not in the photo shooting anymore. Where was I going with that? Oh, yeah. So even if there’s someone on the very, very low end, it’s like, “Why wouldn’t they trade 59 bucks for 300 bucks? And that’s only one sale.

Joe Casabona: That’s like six… Yeah. Okay. I was like, “Am I doing the math right?”

Molly Keyser: Don’t ask me. Don’t ask me.

Joe Casabona: It’s like 5x. Right. It’s 59. It’s like 60 bucks. I’m a creator. I’m not a… My husband always jokes that I am… I literally failed math class in college three times. And he always jokes with me that I am horrible at math unless you put like $1 sign in front of it. And then all of a sudden, I can just figure it out. It’s the craziest.

Joe Casabona: That’s funny. That reminds me of Friends episode where Joey was a waiter at Central Perk.

Molly Keyser: I’m being compared to Joey, Oh, I love it. Continue. Continue.

Joe Casabona: Where he was like tallying up everybody’s bills and like added the tax in his head and whatever. Chandler was like, “You could do that but you can add like five and five-

Molly Keyser: Because he’s like cheap or whatever. That’s funny.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah. He couldn’t add five and five the other day or whatever.

Molly Keyser: That’s funny.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. We’ve been talking for a while already. This has been great. I want to be cognizant of your time. We’ll continue the conversation in the pro show, where I want to ask a little bit more about how you figured out which digital products to get rid of. So we could talk about that in the pro show.

And since you make online courses, I definitely want to talk about your gear and your toolset. So we’ll talk about that in How I Built It Pro. You can find everything we talked about over in the show notes, which you can find that howibuilt.it/298. That’s for Episode 298. And there will be the pro link, all of the links that we’ve talked about here.

I want to end with this. If someone’s starting, let’s say close to zero, and they want to create their first or maybe their first real, full-effort digital product, what are the one or two things that you would tell them to do first?

Molly Keyser: Like what type of digital product to create or just any step?

Joe Casabona: So let’s say I’m like, “Oh, I have a niche. I know I want to create a digital product.” What do I do? So maybe it’s like figure out what it should be or what format it should be in or figure out what topic it should be on. What would you say? It’s pretty open-ended. If somebody was like, “How do I make my first digital product?”

Molly Keyser: Like we already said, come up with your ideal client, come up with your niche. And if you have something to already educate someone on, then I would say an eBook is a great digital product to start with. If you’re someone who wants to get into digital products and you want passive income and you don’t yet know exactly how to create an eBook that gets someone a result, you can get started with selling templates, like Canva templates.

I do teach about all these things on my YouTube channel. It’s just my name, Molly Keyser. But yeah, templates are great to start with, eBook. And then you also need to think about who are you actually going to sell these to, not just your ideal client. But you do need to start to build some kind of a following.

And don’t try to go on every single platform. And we can talk about this more in the pro show if you want to but definitely ask yourself what’s the one platform you want to get started on, and then just focus on that platform. Again, if people really make the mistake or they try to be on all the platforms. So maybe it’s YouTube? Maybe it’s podcasting. Maybe it’s TikTok or Instagram, whatever that is.

But you don’t need a lot of followers. Like even if you can get 100, you know, and then you put in your LinkedIn bio, your templates or your eBook or something, if it really helps that person solve that problem, like they will purchase it.

Joe Casabona: I love that. That’s great. I was really making that mistake in 2022 as well, trying to be everywhere like YouTube podcasting, TikTok, Instagram.

Molly Keyser: Oh, my God, YouTube and a Podcast. I can’t imagine. I have such a struggle just keeping up with YouTube.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, it’s hard.

Molly Keyser: It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work.

Joe Casabona: For 2023 I want to continue to put more effort into my YouTube channel, honestly because-

Molly Keyser: Do you just put the podcast on YouTube or is it totally separate?

Joe Casabona: No, totally separate.

Molly Keyser: Wow, that’s crazy. That’s awesome.

Joe Casabona: It’s mostly because a lot of brands who have come to me lately who want to sponsor the show also want video. And luckily, my YouTube channel has been around long enough and it’s monetized and it has a good following.

Molly Keyser: Have you considered just doing a video podcast and then putting that on YouTube? Because it’s actually really big right now. It used to be where YouTube wouldn’t really push out podcasting stuff, but they actually are coming out with a podcast tab in 2023. So they’re actually going big on it.

Joe Casabona: That page is like kind of available now. It’s like not great, though. And they just put out that super long. Well, not just as this episode comes out, it was a couple of months ago. But they put out that PDF, like how to podcast on YouTube. So I have thought about that. My host Castos automatically publishes the show to YouTube.

Molly Keyser: But it’s just audio, right?

Joe Casabona: Yeah, it’s just the audio. Yeah. I’ve experimented a little bit with a talking head video. But I find that if I want to create compelling videos, they’re kind of a different medium. And this is all part of the experimenting I’m doing. But I think I’m gonna do like one YouTube video per month or every six weeks. That’s just like some super helpful content. And I’m really comfortable in front of the camera. And I have a stream deck, so I barely have to edit. That’s an experiment I’m trying. But as far as trying to be everywhere, like you’re absolutely right. Heck, half the platforms that we can publish as we record might not even be around by the time this episode comes out.

Molly Keyser: Yeah. I had a podcast for a few years but I just really like YouTube so that’s why I’m focused on that right now. But if I was a podcaster, and take this with a grain of salt, because I’m not, and Joe knows way more about Podcast than I do. But if I was to be a podcaster, I would absolutely do like the Logan Paul kind of thing, where you are in person, you have the podcast, and you put it on YouTube. Then from there, you look at the spikes in your view duration chart, and then you create shorts from those. Because then you’re only creating one piece of… Like you’re only creating one piece of content that can be repurposed into so many different pieces of content. Again, take that with a grain of salt because Joe’s the podcaster and I’m not. But I am a YouTuber.

Joe Casabona: I think that’s a good strategy. My mission is to-

Molly Keyser: And then you can have a drink company. Oh my god.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, exactly. An energy drink or whatever. I can like-

Molly Keyser: I don’t know what it is, to be honest with you. I’ve heard mixed reviews on like… Some people are like, “It’s delicious.” And I’ll be like, “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever tasted.” But you can’t really argue with the fact that I think it’s like already a multiple billion-dollar company, if I’m not mistaken.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, it was really fast. It’s wild. I mean, I’ve heard the same thing about The Rock’s tequila. I’ve heard that’s not very good, but somebody is like, “That’s amazing.”

Molly Keyser: I mean, The Rock is amazing. I would buy it. Logan Paul, I mean, he has a lot of good episodes that I like, so I would try it.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, right?

Molly Keyser: They could sell anything and I could try it.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah, I would try it. Yeah, absolutely.

Molly Keyser: That’s the strength of a personal brand right there. That’ll be our last little tip.

Joe Casabona: That’s the strength of a personal brand. So in five years, look for Molly’s energy drink and mine is scotch.

Molly Keyser: Oh my god, I hate energy drinks so much. Oh my gosh. I’ll be dead. I would be dead for me. Your Scotch though, that’s great. My husband would buy that.

Joe Casabona: Oh, man, I love scotch. Awesome. All right, Molly, this has been so much fun. I love talking to you. If people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?

Molly Keyser: We are launching our brand new website in January. So you can go to freedomcreator.co. Not .com. I’m not cool enough. But freedomcreator.co.

Joe Casabona: Freedomcreator.co.

Molly Keyser: You know URLs are rough out there in 2022. You got to take what you get.

Joe Casabona: It’s hard. I picked up profitablepodcaster.fm.

Molly Keyser: That’s what I think you should call your course. I love that name. That’s what I was thinking the whole episode.

Joe Casabona: Thank you very much. I bought the .fm. I vowed-

Molly Keyser: Buy profitable courses and then you’re probably profitable.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, profitable courses. See, we should collab. I vowed I would never spend more than 20 bucks on a domain. And I was like-

Molly Keyser: Right. Because like domain squatters, come on. Come on.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, exactly.

Molly Keyser: Get a better business.

Joe Casabona: .fm. But seriously, come on.

Molly Keyser: Buy for real. You’re just taking advantage of people.

Joe Casabona: It’s like a poor man’s venture capital, right? You’re just making a bunch of bets and hoping somebody pays a ton of money for this random domain you bought? It’s like how when there’s a new pope, there are people who will buy a bunch of potential Pope names. I don’t know if you’ve heard this. I’m catholic.

Molly Keyser: No. That’s interesting. I did go to Catholic grade school, but I definitely wouldn’t call myself a catholic.

Joe Casabona: But I want to share that story in How I Built It Pro because we’ve been talking for so long, Molly, this has been great. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it.

Molly Keyser: Thanks, Joe.

Joe Casabona: And thank you for listening. For all of the show notes and to get ad-free extended episodes of this podcast, you can head over to howibuilt.it/298. You’ll get all the show notes, you’ll get a link to pro. It’s five bucks a month. That’s like less than what I pay for coffee at a coffee shop. So definitely do that.

Thanks to our sponsors, Ahrefs, Paid Memberships Pro, and LearnDash. Thank you for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.

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