Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips To Pinpoint Your Digital Product Offering

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Tips To Pinpoint Your Digital Product Offering

A few years ago, I started noticing that digital products were becoming a hot commodity and as someone who runs a service-based business, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep the same pace of offering custom design solutions forever. My dream has always been to run a small, efficient studio that allows me the flexibility to spend more time with my family and travel often so having a massive staff (with the overhead that goes with that) and more than the few dozen regular clients we regularly work with wasn’t in the cards.

Simply put, a digital product is anything you can offer in a digital format, usually as an immediate download. Think along the lines of e-courses, e-books, digital templates, design assets, MP3’s and so on. Most of us probably bought dozens of digital products last year without giving it a second thought.

I had two key reasons for wanting to dive into the world of digital products:

1. One-on-one services only allowed me to help a small group of clients at once. Finding ways to serve a bigger audience was important to me. There had to be a more efficient way to help a larger audience reach their goals.

2. The hours in a day limited my earning potential. We all have a cap on what we can realistically output and even with more help, I still didn’t feel like Branch was able to reach the demand. Dozens of inquiries came in each week, yet we passed most of them off to referrals because we were booked out.

The tricky part was, I had no idea what I could offer. Do you have those days where it feels like everything has literally been done? I did…but I felt like those days stretched on for a few years. I’d designed dozens of hugely successful digital products for clients but I never felt like anything I thought of was good enough. I was too deeply entrenched in the middle of it all, surrounded by what my clients were doing PLUS seeing new launches pop up every day from people I followed on social media. There was too much noise.

If you’re feeling this way as well, first of all, give yourself permission to dream and explore. The best ideas are usually right in front of you.

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Tips To Pinpoint Your Digital Product Offering

5 tips to pinpoint what your audience wants

1. Check Google Analytics / Your Most Popular Posts

I know this might seem obvious but people are telling you exactly what they need in their search terms. When I looked at my stats for this blog, informational posts about processes, designing great portfolios and media kits were at the top. What topics are you naturally interested in and already talking about?

2. Use Pinterest Sources To See What’s Trending

Since commenting on blogs has declined, if your site is more visual like this one, it can be hard to know what’s resonating with your audience. I’ve found Pinterest to be a valuable resource for sorting out what my audience is drawn to and it’s super easy to do.

Go to pinterest.com/source/yoursiteurl.com/. For instance, this blog would be:

https://www.pinterest.com/source/nubbytwiglet.com/

What does your audience pin over and over directly from your site? What colors, styles and topics do they love? After a quick scan, I can see that my audience is drawn to creative resources, unique design layouts and interestingly enough, travel posts.

3. Do A Survey

Go straight to the source and ask your audience what they want — they’ll gladly tell you. I’ve done surveys about upcoming digital products here and I’ve also asked the Branch mailing list. The honesty in the responses I got was refreshing — people were clear that they wanted all juice and no filler. They wanted to know how to improve their portfolios, how to land new and better career opportunities and how to build their client base.

4. Define What You’re Struggling With

What have been the biggest hangups in your own career path and personal growth? Chances are, if you’re struggling with something, others are, too. Think of how you solved your own issues, whether it was finding your niche, building a thriving freelance career or getting over your fears. How can you use your unique perspective to offer a value-packed product that directly helps your audience?

5. Ask Yourself What Could Be Simplified

Does something that you do seem way harder than it needs to be? In my case, I’d personally struggled with having a defined process for client work at the start of my freelance career and it really held me back from earning a decent living. Based on that experience, I collaborated with Paul Jarvis and we poured our results-driven studio processes into a set of fully editable documents called Project Prescription. If you can find a way to make people’s lives easier in some way, they’ll be interested.

How It’s Working

Based on the 5 tips above, my digital offerings have been going well so far.

Project Prescription launched February 7th and has since sold a few hundred copies — it’s affordable, helpful and customizable which I think all contributed to its success.

Next up is a course called Future So Bright launching later this Spring. Career strategist Ellen Fondiler and I are addressing one of the biggest issues new design graduates face — finding a well paying, meaningful job in the industry. There are dozens of freelancing courses out there but not everyone can make a full-time living as a freelancer right out of school, nor do they want to. Full-time gigs have tons of benefits but knowing how to find the opportunities, build a killer portfolio AND interview properly can be intimidating — I still cringe at some of my own interview experiences! Once again, this was a struggle we knew existed so it makes sense to fill that gap.

Pushing Fear Aside

Beyond these two courses, I have a few more concepts in the works but it took getting over my fear of the unknown. I constantly wondered if my ideas were good enough. Worse yet, what if I did follow through and it failed? What if…[insert concern here]? WHO CARES. Once you push your ego aside and honestly ask yourself how you can serve more people, the answer usually presents itself.

If you’re still unsure of what you can offer, fill in the blanks:

I’m a [insert what you do here] and I notice that my audience is struggling with [insert issue here] and my personal experience can help them overcome it by [name what you’re going to offer] so they can [insert outcome here].

Here’s my answer using Project Prescription as an example:

I’m a graphic designer and I notice that my audience is struggling with their client processes and my personal experience can help them overcome it by developing a set of pre-made, editable documents so they can get back to work quickly and charge more.

When it comes to developing digital products, my advice is simple: start small and focus on what you know. Don’t overthink it.

By offering your personalized expertise, a good value and accessibility, your digital product has the ability to do really well.


Photos: Afsoon Zizia.
Check out even more Creative Chronicles posts here.

Where Do You Work? Here’s Where My Creativity Happens.

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

I’m endlessly fascinated by people’s creative workspaces. When I get really into what they do, whether it’s design, photography, painting or another creative endeavor, the next thing I wonder about is where the magic happens. I love the behind-the-scenes shots and also, learning more about their processes.

In a world that feels increasingly digital and disconnected, seeing where someone works feels grounding. It reminds us that what they did didn’t just magically appear online — it was crafted by a fellow human through a process of trial and error.

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

I’ve been in my current studio space for nearly a year and a half now and it still makes coming to work feel exciting. To this day, it’s not perfect and I’m okay with that. I shot these photos yesterday without any staging or rearranging to show you what it’s like in its current state.

BRANCH_STUDIO_7

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

The prep-time before I moved into this space was nearly non-existent so you can see that there’s no finishing trim along the bottom of the walls. The plywood floors show grime quickly. The mostly brick structure and old windows make for some very cold winters which means that Samantha (my design assistant) and I are usually sitting next to a space heater. But I love it. I love the feeling of turning a key every morning and opening the doors to a space I can call my own.

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

You might remember this post from early last year, right after I moved in. The space looked pretty good but has shifted quite a bit since then. The desk got switched out to a large kitchen table with space for two iMacs. My flat files moved in to house print samples and office supplies. A ton of succulents were added. Small switches in furniture and objects has meant that everything feels more organized and purposeful now.

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

While I adore this current studio, it’s number 5 as far as creative spaces go. One thing that can be deceiving with having a blog (and being online in general) is to just show where you are now — because that never tells the full story. I’m one of those people who LOVES the story behind the story. With this space being a personal blog and a way to connect with you, things will never be picture perfect. That’s real life. Are you ready to take a little trip down memory lane with me?

My Past Creative Spaces

I pulled out a hard drive last night that was so old it needed to plug into a wall on one end and a USB on the other! It’s the size of a stack of journals and makes a loud, whizzing sound. I started digging for photos of my previous creative spaces — and wow, were they loud and messy! I could only find photos of the last two but I’ll tell you about all of them.

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

Space #1: The first was in my childhood room at my dad’s house — it’s where I started blogging on Live Journal and where my business ideas began! My dad helped me pick out bright red paint for the walls when I was a teenager, even though it made him cringe. Haha.

Space #2: My next space was in a house I shared with four guy roommates from 2005 to 2007. It was my first time living away from home so I had a lot of fun experimenting with decor. Thinking back now, it was a cluttered mess! This was my space all through design school.

Space #3: In 2007, I moved into a rental that had more room and privacy. It’s where my blog really grew and I built my freelance business while working my first full-time design job. There are some photos of it mixed into these collages.

Space #4: In 2009, my brother and I bought our house and it had enough room for me to set up a dedicated office space across the hall from my room. Over the course of two years, I went from a barren room to a well-designed space. This is the room where I launched Branch in 2013. Most of the photos in these collages were taken here. It’s since been redone and looks like this!

Nubby Twiglet | We Are Branch Studio

Space #5: After a year of running Branch from the spare room at home, I signed a lease for a studio in my neighborhood filled with other creatives and this is where I’m at currently. I love it but it’s good to remember that it wasn’t an overnight transition — in fact, it took nine years to get from my room at my dad’s house to here!

If you’re dreaming of having your own dedicated space, I want to remind you that it’s not out of reach. One of my favorite mottos is, “Do what you can with what you’ve got.” It’s definitely kept me going when things were less than ideal and makes me appreciate what I have now even more.


Your turn: I’d love to hear about your creative space! Do you work from home, in a co-working space or a favorite coffee shop? What do you love about it? What would your dream space be like?

The Week + Links: February 19, 2016

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE WEEK

After last week’s post, I headed out to a motorcycle show with my dad. As we walked in and moved through the crowd while taking in the live music, I kept thinking, “This sounds like Prince.” Then, it became clear, a Prince cover band was definitely in the house — and the singer must have watched Purple Rain a few hundred times because he knew every note to every song, not to mention every signature dance move. It was mesmerizing and I watched the gathered bikers in their black leather jackets and boots dancing right along, just as excited as I was.

I’m glad I had that dose of entertainment because the rest of the week has been rainy, cool and full of too much work. It’s time for an adventure! When I’m really into the work I’m doing, I forget to stop, stretch and take care of myself. So…I’m starting that now. Time for a mini Friday break!

In other news, I hope you have better weekend plans than I do. My Saturday involves two back-to-back tax appointments in the morning. Eek! I’ll be wearing my metallic gold sneakers for good luck and hoping for the best. 😉

Have a great weekend, friends!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE LINKS

• If you blog, do yourself a favor and read this epic post about the new online economy!

• A reminder: you are not lazy.

• An ode to the internet’s worst business advice. Ha!

• I’m loving the shift in blogging back to more personality-filled posts versus the overwhelm of too many informational / DIY posts that took over during the last few years.

• What does Obama carry in his pockets?

• Use Hustle Mode On to discover the best productivity tools on the web.

• From what I’ve seen so far, I’m not a fan of the new branding for The Met. What’s your take?

• Designers, here’s what you need to know about internships.

• I love this bathroom update because it didn’t involve ripping everything out and starting from scratch. It’s much more budget-friendly but still looks great!

• It’s so interesting seeing the detailed process that goes into updating the look of a brand.

• The benefit of doing creative work without an audience in mind, using Vincent van Gogh as an example.

It’s Always Sunny In Palm Springs

Nubby Twiglet | It's Always Sunny In Palm Springs

To be totally honest, this post isn’t what I’d planned on sharing this week but I’m sitting here between a Palm Springs sandwich of sorts. We just sent the March issue of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine to print yesterday which has an 11 page feature of my vow renewal photographed in Palm Springs but I can’t share it quite yet. And then, I’ve been hard at work on a travel guide dedicated to the city but it’s not quite finished — and I don’t believe in half-assing anything, especially when it comes to my adopted home away from home.

Nubby Twiglet | It's Always Sunny In Palm Springs

Instead of feeling frustration, I started thinking….and remembered that we’d shot a fourth look the day of the vow renewal. There was an open 10 minute span of time after I’d changed out of my wedding dress. The sun was shining after an overcast morning and I felt a sense of relief since the photos we’d needed for the magazine were done. I changed into something less confining —a very mod, citrusy striped dress from ASOS and walked around the corner from our rented house.

The cacti were taller than I was and I draped my Kate Spade license plate bag around one of them. It was a Monday but time stood still. “This is where I want to be,” I thought to myself.

Nubby Twiglet | It's Always Sunny In Palm Springs

I’ve been very vocal about my love of Palm Springs since I first visited four years ago and set a goal by the end of this year to buy something, anything in town.

Joey and I have a meeting with the bank at the end of the month to see where we stand. When I left the comforts of a full-time job and started working for myself three years ago in an all-or-nothing move, I knew that I’d have to work harder than I ever had before and made a pact with myself so I didn’t burn out under the weight of it all. There had to be a bigger goal to strive towards, beyond just building a business. There had to be a way to have a tiny vacation spot, a place to go and “retire” to for two weeks at a time.

Nubby Twiglet | It's Always Sunny In Palm Springs

Nubby Twiglet | It's Always Sunny In Palm Springs

I didn’t want to wait until I was 60 or older to feel the relief and the relaxation that comes with being able to wind down after a career. Instead, I set a goal of 35. I never saw myself as the type that would ever need a permanent escape from my job, anyway. I just knew I would need breaks here and there to recharge.

Nubby Twiglet | It's Always Sunny In Palm Springs

Right now, we’re going back and forth between whether we should buy a small condo that doesn’t need much work or a total fixer-upper of a house that needs to be completely torn apart and remodeled. Joey has remodeled most of our Portland house himself and loves the art of transformation so we’re leaning towards the latter. I don’t know how things will turn out but I’ll let you know what happens.

This phase of my life is definitely taking on a “choose your own adventure” vibe. Each choice will entail a different path. It’s a little nerve-wracking but also really exciting. I’m ready.

Nubby Twiglet | It's Always Sunny In Palm Springs

Now, it’s your turn: Where’s your happy place? What’s that one place you’ve traveled to or want to visit….and wouldn’t mind living?


Photos: Made U Look.

Say Yes To Those Creative Challenges

Nubby Twiglet | Olivine Atelier Daily Love Cards

What happens when a project lands in your lap that you’re equal parts excited and terrified over?

The short answer: Say yes, dive in and stretch the boundaries that you’ve inadvertently set for yourself.

I talked about the Daily Love Cards project by Olivine Atelier quite often here as it progressed because it really challenged me, in the best way possible.

When you’re running a business, the last thing you want to do is to play it too safe. I’d already done that for years in corporate jobs and it crushed my creative soul, little by little. I longed for more challenges, more creative projects and more weirdness. When they now appear, I say YES.

Creativity should be free to morph and take us on paths less frequented. That’s exactly what this project did with 34 different designs, all loosely tied together with a few basic themes. A list of inspirational words, three months of scanning, photographing and experimenting…and here we are. It’s hard to believe that it’s finally done and out in the world.

Nubby Twiglet | Olivine Atelier Daily Love Cards

Here’s to pushing your personal style, trying new things and stepping into the unknown. Instead of boxing yourself into what you’ve always known, ask yourself what would happen if you just said yes to something today that scares you. The outcome is usually worth it.

Surround yourself with friends and clients that push you to explore, experiment and encourage you to try new styles. It’s what keeps life interesting.

Check out more of the process and project here.