Putting A Product Together And Releasing It – A Case Study

This case study is all about WordPress Affiliate Pages.

What do you think was the first thing I did?…

Okay, I won’t tease, let’s go through the steps.

#1 – I have mailing lists and blog readers. So the first thing I did was to let them (you) know I had something new for WordPress, and what it was. Doing this gets an interest sparked.

#2 – I wrote a few notes of things I needed to do. I have a crib sheet in my head and it was just a matter of ticking it all off mentally. (I really should write it down.) I made notes of the key words I wanted to target.

affiliate page(s)
sales page(s)
wordpress theme
wordpress plugin
wordpress

#3 – I used the Google keyword search tool to find likely names for the product and web site. I wanted a name that was at least already getting a little bit of search for it. Then I looked for free domain names until I found one for a name that was getting search, and was free.

I found that WordPress Affiliate Pages was free, but I compromised and registered WPAffiliatePages.com instead. I didn’t want to use the name WordPress and then later find I had to close it down. Call me a chicken if you like, but I think this is a sensible thing to do.

#4 – I spent two hours writing the sales page copy. I prefer to do this in a plain text editor so I don’t have to think about formatting etc and can just concentrate on the words. I’m writing this blog post in a plain text editor right now. A few hours later I read it back to myself and changed about a third of it and added some new content. I find waiting a bit before doing this works best for me.

#5 – I looked through my PLR graphics and templates that I’ve amassed and found a sales page template I liked the look of. I edited the header in Photoshop and uploaded it to the site with my sales copy to take a look at it in place.

#6 – I deleted the page and installed WordPress. I turned off “pinging” as I didn’t want the world to know about the site just yet. Then I re-created the sales page within WordPress using the WP Affiliate Pages method.

#7 – I set up the customer mailing list and added a couple of autoresponder messages to the queue and tested it out. I made a mistake and used the wrong domain for the email address, as someone later pointed out to me. I’d used “WordPress” in the domain name instead of “WP”, D’oh!

#8 – I edited the sales copy in Dreamweaver and applied formatting and styling, plus a few images. I added new box outs and moved the bullet points nearer to the top of the page. I applied a style to the bullet points which applied some pretty ticks and crosses. (The funny thing is, I got these from a competing product I’d purchased but wasn’t impressed with.)

#9 – I spent an hour re-writing the headline. This is the most important part of the sales copy. I’m not happy with it and I’ll do some split testing to make it better. I wrote the PSs for the end fairly quickly and I knew I’d have to engage my brain to come up with something better. Later.

The PSs are the second most important part of your sales copy as people will often read the headline, then jump to the bottom to read the summary in the PSs.

This is your only chance to get people intersted enough in your offer to get them to read at least the beginning of your sales copy. Your opening paragraphs should be designed to draw the reader in so that they read the next bit. And the next bit. And the next bit. Eventually they’ll skip down, so it’s usually a good idea to get some bullet points in fairly early as people look for those.

#10 – I went through the copy and made sure to change the words to reflect the keywords I wanted the page to rank well for. So if I’d used “sales pages”, then I changed *some* of them to “WordPress sales pages”. It’s important not to overdo things and make your copy appear as natural as possible.

#11 – Satisfied that the hard work had been done, I relaxed and started to think about the product.

Now I know that might come as a surprise to some reading this, but the product is usually the easiest thing to do. I find that writing the sales copy often defines the product in my head so that I have a better understanding of what it is I want.

But the biggest reason for writing the sales copy first is that in my experience there’s nothing worse than creating a product and then facing the daunting task of writing the sales copy afterwards. So I always write the sales copy first.

Then when the product is done, you’re nearly ready to go.

#12 – I installed SmartDD and the Nickel Script and added a couple of dummy files so that I could create them in both scripts. I configured everything to test it all worked. I created the download pages for both scripts and did a couple of test purchases. Everything worked. Good.

At that point, to my delight I found that the affiliate part of SmartDD works just fine with this method, and I added the sales helper code and order button form code to the SmartDD version of the sales copy. Things were really cooking.

#13 – I added a list of videos I wanted to make to my notes.

#14 – I wrote the PDF that accompanies the videos. It wasn’t complete, but it was good enough to start the nickel sale. I’ll work on it and make it bigger and better with screen shots later.

#15 – I made the videos. It took about two hours to record and edit them, and a further hour to produce and upload them into a directory.

#16 – I created the videos page using the sales page template and password protected them. Pretty much done.

#17 – I decided to put the nickel sale back by 26 hours to give myself a breather and because the bonus WordPress themes weren’t complete. I sent an email out to let everyone know. This helps build the anticipation.

Just a matter of waiting now.

#18 – I checked everything out and spotted a couple of glitches. Of course I didn’t catch everything…

#19 – I spent an hour just before making the nickel sale live writing and re-writing the PSs. I’ll apply some split testing when the real site goes live. I sent an email out to everyone to let them know we were nearly there. I wrote a blog post on this site and got ready to publish it.

#20 – The broadcast email I’d set up went out and I made the blog post live at the same time.

All done. The nickel sale was live.

Another couple of problems came up with the videos.

Firstly, when I produced them suitable for the web sites (.swf files), somehow they were set to not play until 50% had downloaded. I realised today how that happened as normally the time is set to 10% and they start playing almost immediately. It was because I’d re-installed Camtasia on a new machine and it was using the default setttings. Annoying but easy to fix as you can just open the .xml file in a text editor and change that value from 50 to 10.

Secondly, the third and MOST IMPORTANT video – how WPAP works – became corrupted when I uploaded it. I’d checked all the videos through and it was fine when I tested it, so I’m still not sure what happened there. It took 15 minutes to upload a fresh copy and all was well. I sent an email out to everyone who’d signed up to the WPAP customer list apologising and to let them know to try again.

#21 – A day after the sale started. The WordPress themes were done and I uploaded them to the download pages. I worked on the PDF adding in detail about the “must have” plugins I use, plus some optional others I use on some of my blogs.

I sent out an email letting customers know the WordPress themes had been uploaded and asked for some testimonials which started to appear on the blog. Thank you!

#22 – I updated the sales page with the first of the testimonials.

#23 – I created and tested the affiliate process. Set up affiliate autoresponder. Created affiliate sign up page. Added a link to affiliate page at bottom of sales page.

#24 – I created a simple affiliate page and then announced the affiliate program.

#25 – I created an animated 125×125 GIF for affiliates to use.

#26 – To do – search through my PLR library and find some decent looking sales page templates and edit them for general use.

#27 – To do – add more videos. Lots of ideas on this to make WP Affiliate Pages a bigger product. This will make all the nickel sale purchasers VERY happy as they’ve purchased at a low price to begin with.

#28 – To do – Create a short video showing the pages in action on a WP blog and upload it to YouTube. Then embed the YouTube version into the sales page.

#29 – To do – Take some screenshots to add to the sales page.

#30 – To do – Update the promo tools page. Some more static and animated banner graphics to be created. The promo tools page will enable affiliates to enter their PayPal email address and then create copy and paste code for their emails and web sites with their affiliate link embedded. Maybe do a video showing people how to embed banner code into their blogs using text widgets.

#31 – To do – The real biggy. Promote. Find JV partners and encourage affiliates. It should grow legs and run on its own as the affiliate scheme pays 100% commissions, ie it has a strong viral component. The benefit to me is I build a new list interested in WordPress and blogging. I intend to release further WordPress based products and one is already out in the form of AutoBlog Plugin and AutoBlogging 101 which I’ve been able to promote to this new list directly, and I’ve even run another nickel sale for Autoblog Plugin (still a lot of work to do).

And there you have it. Not everything is perfect. So what? Sales are coming in and the word is spreading.

It’s a new product in my collection and is another source of traffic to my marketing funnel.

A key principle for me in all this is I used the 80-20 rule and did things to the point of them being “good enough”. I used to agonise over getting everything “just right”, but I’ve learned that it’s far more important to get it done and out there than make everything perfect from day 1.

Q. Do you apply the 80-20 rules to your business or do you prefer to get everything just right? What do you think?

-Frank Haywood


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12 Comments

  1. Gareth Hogan says:

    Hi Frank,

    That is so great, that you shared you methods with everybody. Not easy but straight forward, with a little bit of application and hard work : )

    I can see now the skills I need to polish and improve. I think you are spot on with “it’s far more important to get it done and out there than make everything perfect from day 1″

    That 80-20 rule is a bit spooky in the ways its crops up and seems to work. One twist on it, I came across lately is that if you get a group of IM entrpreneurs on a forum or at a conference, they will all reach a concensus and agree how something should be done, whether that is traffic generation or writing a salespage. Because they are like-minded, every new and clever idea will make perfect sense to them, and they will wonder why they did not see it before.

    The trouble is that they are already a self filtered group of society and only represent 20% of the population, by the very act of being there. This means they are all motivated by the same things and see the world the same way and because of this they are unlikely to disagree to much. This colours the way they write their copy and guess what, most of their customers then turn out to be other entrepreneurs!

    Unfortunately, the other 80% of the population, who are their intended customers, see the world a different way and are motivated by different things. This is a really good reason to get things up and running, and test, test, test on that 80% with split pages,etc, rather than run with the pack following “affiliate guru’s ” with their new, latest “rules”.

    I think it was Russell Brunson that pointed out that most Entrepreneurs (20%) are moving towards pleasure, while the rest of the population (80%) is moving away from pain. He drastically improved his sales by changing his sales pitch from “Become Millionaire in a year” (> pleasure) to ” Make an extra120$ dollars a day to help pay those bills” (< Pain).

    Thanks for sharing this information Frank, you are a star.
    Best Wishes
    Gareth Hogan

    • Frank Haywood says:

      @Gareth Hogan:

      I really need to set this out as a process. I often find I start, get well into it all, think it’s nearly done and then realise I’ve missed something.

      I refer to it as the 80-20 rule as that’s its name (or Pareto), but it’s often 95-1 or 99-1. For example, 100 people may buy a learning product, but only 1 will put the learning into action. That’s the biggest shame of all.

      I love the points you’ve made here, you should really turn this comment into a much larger blog post of your own, it could easily become a “pillar article” for you. :)

      -Frank

      [Edit] I’ve just checked out your site again (as I do from time to time), and I REALLY like what you’ve done with it. I can see it becoming a must-go-to resource on self publishing. Here’s a thought though, I couldn’t see that you’ve covered it, but what about self-publishing online for free? Cory Doctorow released a work of fiction for free (Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom) and it took off BIG time, as did his career.

      It’s now been published in lots of different formats by his fans and so the coverage has been phenomenal due to fans redistributing it on all kinds of media. It hasn’t cost Cory a penny, and it’s directly responsible for him becoming a well known author. A traditional author would never have got the kind of coverage Cory has except under exceptional circumstances.

      I’m not sure this would work for non-fiction unless it was a very popular mainstream subject, but certainly fiction authors should strongly consider it.

  2. Gareth Hogan says:

    Just Googled and found Cory Doctorow. Wow, what a scary but exciting idea! Thanks for that. I can see the benefits of giving a IM book away , (that is basically how “viral” marketing works), but to give away your “baby” , confident that you are going to write a few more that are equally good……..

    Well it is a quick way for an author to find out if there is an “audience” for their work.
    Even though he is now a published author, he still releases a free ebook version of his work on the same day his physical hardbacks and paperbacks go on sale. If his publishers let him do that, it must be working, certainly food for thought.

    The short video showing the pages in action on a WP blog that you upload to to YouTube. Is that just for the convenience of embedding the YouTube version into the sales page or do you do a bit more, to use it for promotion?

    • Frank Haywood says:

      @Gareth Hogan:

      Scary yes, especially if you’ve sunk everything into it. But if you’re an unknown what an incredible way of getting noticed.

      You’d still have to do a lot of promotion, but this could mainly consist of asking the owners of established sites to “Take a look and offer a bit of advice for the next book.” Many if not all requests of that nature will be honoured (if worded carefully), and it’s likely they’ll mention it to their readership.

      I’ve been a long time fan of sci-fi, preferring “hard” sci-fi to a lot of the fantasy swashbuckling stuff you see on TV, although I enjoy some of that too. I always find myself questioning some of the premises though…

      Maybe it’s getting near to the time to start my first novel. :roll:

      We’re all supposed to have at least one book in us.

      Incidentally, I don’t think Cory was a complete unknown as he’s the owner of boingboing.net, or maybe it’s his fame with his novel that boosted boingboing.

      -Frank

  3. Pat says:

    This is more about the comments than the post (which was great, but had nothing to add to it). Never heard of Cory Doctorow, but from you mentioning him I decided to download his book and give it a read. It’s viral, baby… yeah!

  4. Gareth Hogan says:

    Spooky or what? a friend just emailed me a link to a copy of “Down and out in the magic kingdom” by Cory Doctorow. I will have to make time to read him now, to much of co-incidence.

    I have used the website link to highlight a change in the law that has already taken place. They have made a law against downloading cookies in Europe. Comes in force in about 18 months. That is going to sod up some affiliate schemes, traffic tracking etc…

    Oh Dear, Make hay while the sun shines. Better start writing that book now Frank : )

  5. Constantine says:

    Very interesting to read. I see that you are really experienced in this field. Nice work by the way. Personally i do apply Pareto principle in my work, or alternative “80-20″ rule. This is really important to understand, however sometimes it doesn’t work. But still…

  6. In your case study, I like the idea of using a text editor to write down your thoughts when creating content; and then waiting for a span before finalizing it.

    One step I did not realize I could do when initially installing a Word Press blog self-hosted script is to turn off “pinging” until I am ready for my siite to go live. I always rush to get the content on not wanting visitors to come to s blog site that is incomplete. Thanks for that. Call me a dummy.

    It came to me as a bit of a surprise that you created the sales copy before the product. This did not make sense to me: “The cart before the horse.” I had think think about it for awhile. But as I continued to read, saw you point in this.

    I have actually printed out your Case Study as it seems like a good template to work from.

    Great work !!!

  7. jez says:

    Hi Frank,

    Just bought your ‘Like’ plugin..

    You mention in PDF to upload the file.. Since its a plugin, should we not upload the zip file, which i cannot see in folder.. The file contains the PDF..

    Would you clarify please.. Thought there was going to be a video showing install instruction.

    Thanks

  8. Thank you Frank.

    I really like the way you have presented everything. I just created my first info product recently and I ma going through the phases. I am learning, and your page is just awesome.

    I am also very interested in the Smart DD product. How can I get it?

    Once again, thank you so much!

    Robert

    • Frank Haywood says:

      Hi Robert,

      That’s fantastic. So many people don’t even get as far as putting up a blog let alone creating their own product, and it’s always a reward for me when I hear of people taking a similar route to the one I have.

      It’s a rocky road, and can be hard at times keeping on top of it all, but it’s also very rewarding in lots of ways and importantly for me, gives me the freedom to do what I want when I want. Within reason.

      ;-)

      SmartDD is currently off the market for a little while longer while I plan in some changes to it. You’ve just reminded me to go put a sign up box on that site for those people who want to get it when it’s ready!

      -Frank

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