What I’ve Learnt From An Unsuccessful Product Launch

A cup of coffee between two MacBook Pros on a wooden table

Back in March 2019, I launched my first ever eBook and I’m not going to lie, it was a total flop! 

In that first month, I only had one sale and I just couldn’t understand what I’d done wrong. 

I knew the market for it was there for it.

Pinterest was being talked about more than ever and lots of bloggers and business owners were asking for advice on how to use it strategically. 

My blog post covering basic tips/advice was gaining a lot of traffic, and people were constantly tagging me on the social media posts of people asking for advice saying I’d really helped them. 

[Related: 5 Simple Ways To Increase Your Blog Traffic Using Pinterest]

But with the hindsight of writing out a 75-page dissertation all about my business, I realised that I really didn’t launch it as well as I could have done. 

It was rushed and messy, with very little planning put into it! 

A cup of coffee between two MacBook Pros on a wooden table

Even though it went tits up on the most spectacular fashion, it was a great learning experience and in a way, I’m glad it happened. 

There are now lots of things I will be doing differently for my next launch, which will hopefully make it more successful than my last one was.

Let’s face it, it couldn’t really go much worse!

Actually F*cking Promote It 

Okay, so this is basically me just screaming this at myself but seriously, hand up who’s actually even seen a promotional tweet or story from me about the eBook? 

Pretty sure the answer is almost no one, as I’m too afraid to put them out! 

I have some serious impostor syndrome issues, and even though I’ve had nothing but positive feedback about the eBook and how helpful it’s been, I can’t help but panic that it’s a load of rubbish and that people will think they’ve wasted their money. 

This mentality is a serious problem as if I don’t have any confidence in my own product, why should anyone else? 

Even worse than that, if I have that kind of mentality I won’t talk about it or be passionate in promoting how helpful it can be, which means no one knows it exists, and no one ends up buying it. 

Then because of how my brain works, I think no one is buying it because it’s rubbish rather than because no one knows it’s there! 

You’ve got to love the endless loops my brain gets me in to. 

Invest In Your Product

It can be really scary to invest money into a product before you know it’s going to make any money back, but I’ve learnt from experience that it’s vital to a successful launch. 

When I first launched my eBook, it looked crap.

I had spent all of half an hour creating the design on Canva, using an old pattern background I had created for something and never used, plus a white square over that to put the text in. 

As a graphic designer, I cringe looking back on it!

But I had already had to delay the launch once thanks to uni, and I knew if I didn’t launch it that month I wouldn’t have the time to launch it until the end of the year due to my dissertation taking up all of my time. 

A croissant, bottle of diet coke and a Typo, Hogwarts 2020 diary on a wooden table

Now with hindsight, I should have just held off and launched it properly with a well-designed layout, actually promoted for a month or so beforehand, and early-bird access for my email list.  

But of course, I was stressing about money (or rather, the lack of it) and I decided to rush the launch and hopefully make some money to pay the bills I had coming up. 

Big mistake!

While I don’t think the design was the main reason it flopped, I definitely think it was a contributing factor. 

It didn’t look professional at all, so why should someone believe it was worth paying money for.

Plus I was so embarrassed by how rubbish it looked that I didn’t want to promote it and have people laugh at it. 

So if you’re thinking of launching an eProduct, definitely take some time to invest in the design of it. Either use a template from Canva or actually invest in professional design services. 

*Cheeky self-promotion, but I also run a graphic design business called Smush, where I offer design services for bloggers and small business owners. My books are now open for new clients in 2020, so if you’re thinking of creating eProducts this year, why not check out my portfolio and see some examples of my work. I promise it’s much better than that first eBook was!* 

Be Mindful Over Pricing 

While I was working on my dissertation and researching the viability of selling my own digital products, I found out something I didn’t expect: people aren’t as willing to pay the same price for eProducts as they are for physical products.

Someone who would be willing to pay £10 for a physical book would only pay around £4 for a digital version of it, even though the information in it is exactly the same! 

However I didn’t realise this when I first launched my eBook, and I priced it a lot higher than what I now know people are willing to pay.

So I decided to run an experiment: I put my eBook on sale at 50% off, making the price roughly the same amount as my research said people would pay. 

Within the first 24 hours, I’d made more sales than I had in the past 8 months it has been live! 

Jade Marie on Christmas Day 2020. Blue jeans, black leather jacket, brown boots, black jumper and Slytherin scarf

So now that I’m about to launch my second eBook, I’m going to be a lot more mindful about the price I put it at.

Of course, I want to charge how much the workbook is worth, but I also need to think about perceived value and how much my target audience can afford to spend.

Do Some Market Research 

I’ve already spoken about this a little, but taking the time to research if your product is viable, what your target audience actually wants (rather than what you think they want), and how much your target audience can afford to spend on your product is vital.

So for example: if you’re wanting to create a product for low-income, new bloggers, who want to learn how to grow their online presence, the chances of them being able to afford a £200 eCourse is pretty low. 

You can also ask your target audience for the specific questions and topics they want you to cover, so you can be sure to not only include information that people want to see, but that they would also find helpful.

Putting out a question on Twitter and asking people to retweet it, or using the “ask a question” feature on Instagram Stories can be a great place to start – especially if you’re brainstorming ideas for new eProducts. 

I know a lot of people wouldn’t want to admit when something didn’t go to plan, but I like to keep this space as “real” as possible. That for me means talking about the things that didn’t go to plan, as well as the things that did. 

I don’t see “failure” as a negative thing, rather it’s an opportunity to learn from my mistakes and improve things for next time! 

Have you ever launched your own product, either digital or physical? How did it go and what did you learn from it?

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  • a Life on a Dime says:

    I haven’t written any ebooks or launched a digital product but I’d probably be afraid to promote it too! I can see me underpricing it rather than over though. Is probably undervalue my work. Good advice!

  • Jade Marie says:

    It’s so easy to underprice, especially when you first start out and you’re anxious and uncertain in what you’re doing! And thanks 😊 hope it helps if you ever do create any digital products!

  • Rachael says:

    This is a really helpful post. I would also do the same in rushing a product to sell and not spent the time it needs beforehand. I am also terrible at promoting myself and doing it the right way as well

  • Love you writing style and honesty in this post Jade. I’m so sad that your ebook wasn’t the success you had hoped for but, it seems like you’ve learnt a lot which is fantastic moving forward.

    Kate | thelittlecrunch.co.uk

  • That is such a wonderful and helpful post. I very rarely see someone write so honestly about things like that and even though I currently don’t have anything I could sell it is really great to be able to read about your experience and learn from it. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • It’s so helpful to see people talk honestly about their failures or mistakes, so thank you for this. I’ve not yet launched any products through my blog, partly because I’m not sure what I can provide of value and partly because I’d have no idea where to start with it! So this post was great on several levels.

    Also, your blog is stunning.

  • Jade Marie says:

    I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂 it definitely pays off more in the long run to promote the product properly, even if in your head you think it would make you more money to get it out quickly lol

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much Kate! The eBook has picked up sales wise since I launched it, but I’ve learnt so much from it and I’ll definitely be doing things differently for my next one!

  • Jade Marie says:

    Aww thank you so much, it means a lot to hear you say that! I like to talk about the bad as well as the good, otherwise people may feel discouraged if their launches don’t quite go to plan, or as well as what other people on the internet say theirs has gone.

  • Jade Marie says:

    I’m really glad it was helpful, thats one of the main reasons I wanted to write it 🙂 If I can help at all with coming up with a product idea or giving design/writing advice, just drop me a message on IG/Twitter or an email and I’ll help as much as I can 🙂

    And thank you! I’ve just finished my rebrand, so I’m really happy to know you like the look of it!

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