Products, Courses & Memberships: Which Offer is Right for You?
Are you trying to move away from 1:1 client work? Do you want to create a new offer that generates revenue outside your usual projects? Have no clue what kind of offer to create or what would even be right for your business and audience?
You’re in the right place, my friend.
In general, there are three kinds of offers outside of the strictly service-based realm. This includes a digital or physical product (i.e. a physical planner, a DIY template, etc.), a course, and a membership.
But when you're trying to move away from just working 1:1 with clients or you want to build a new business model, which one is right for you? Well, it starts by asking a few questions. Keep reading to find out which new offer is right for you and your biz.
Think about the time involved
First and foremost: Do you have the time to create a new offer — especially a digital product or a course — right now? Be honest. Like, really honest.
Creating a new product is time-consuming. The content piece might go really quickly, but filming videos, designing PDFs, proofreading, building… the list goes on and on.
Digital products are definitely easier; you can probably put that together in under a week. A course, on the other hand, should take a few months to do it the right way. As I mention a lot, you should build in some buffer time for when life happens!
Consider the solution you want to offer
Instead of getting caught up in what you’re hearing about “how awesome courses are,” or “how digital products are #SoHotRightNow,” ask yourself: Do you want to offer a quick solution, or do you want to offer more in-depth guidance?
Do you want to give your audience a quick win, or do you really want to get all up in there and show them your process and how to do something from A to Z?
If you want to offer a quick solution, one you could walk someone through in just a few minutes, maybe that's better served as free content (an email, a blog, Instagram, etc.) as a way to grow trust with your audience and give them a little goodie for free!
If you want to dig a little deeper, but still want your people to have a clear takeaway, you might consider a product — like a template, a low-cost guide, a mini-course, etc.
And if you want to give them the whole enchilada and really show them everything magical that you do and how they can do it, too, that’s where a course comes in.
Another note I want you to keep in mind: Some solutions can be free. I get asked a lot about what should be free and what should be paid. There are some different schools of thought on this but, in general, free content should be a little more shallow — focusing on the "what." Paid content should go deeper and should focus on the "how."
There are exceptions, of course, but I always start there. So if the content you're creating is more complicated, explore a paid offer. But make sure you're truly solving a problem — the expectation of quality is higher if you're asking someone to pay. If not, it might be time to go back to the drawing board!
Determine your goals for this new revenue stream
Deciding to create a paid offer outside of your 1:1 services or usual work means that there’s something you want to mix up. Are you hoping to connect with and impact more people, but can’t do that with a 1:1 high-cost service? Would you like to have a more passive source of income that doesn’t require you to talk to people all day long? (I feel this one.)
Courses and memberships are more expensive and, because of that, customers often expect a higher touch experience. Whether that's access to the instructor (ahem, you) via Q&A calls or managing a digital community like a Facebook Group or Mighty Network, your people will want touchpoints!
Digital products typically require very little maintenance. They're a little more one-and-done and, unless an automation goes haywire, you won’t have much contact with these people until they move further into your brand’s universe.
Considerations about launching each type of offer
OK, so by now you might have a stronger idea of what kind of offer you want to create. Let’s say you want to create more passive income so you can stop hustling for clients 24/7. You also don’t want to have a lot of contact with peeps (I see you, introverts 👋), so you know a digital product is right for you. Or maybe you want to serve more people with a lower cost offer that gives them access to you without paying for 1:1 services. A course or membership might be right for you.
Cool. Great. Super. Now… how do you prepare to launch the damn thing? Let’s think about any offer like different forms of entertainment.
For digital products — whether free or paid — I like to think of them like a movie. It's pretty affordable to buy, you can watch it when you want, there are a lot of options, and it's quick to consume. Just like a movie, you can make your product available all the time and know that not everyone will love it, but that's ok. People can also afford to buy multiple tickets to movies (aka your other products).
Think of your course or membership more like a Broadway show. You might have to save up to buy it and it's an immersive event once you step into the theater. Like that Broadway show, you'll want to make the buying experience a little more special (which is not that hard...can someone please fix the Ticketmaster buyer journey?!). Basically, launching this type of offer means you’re ready to treat your new customers to an incredible experience.
These two different types of “entertainment” can help you really hone in on which offer is right for you. Are you ready for a Broadway performance? Or do you maybe want to start with the movie? Either one is perfectly awesome, it’s just a matter of which one is right for you, your resources, and your audience.
Choose the offer that’s right for you (and your audience)
I know that, when it comes to creating and launching something new, you get a little sweaty in weird places thinking about how it might not be a hit. Before you decide for yourself whether a course, membership, or product is right for your audience… why not ask them?
Seriously. Do an Instagram poll. Send an email. Schedule a Zoom call. Go get coffee with your ideal client. Ask them what kind of solutions they want: A community to find accountability and resources? A course to deep-dive into their issue? A fast-snack solution? They’ll tell you so much about what kind of offer you should create.
Of course, if you’re really hoping to get closer to which of these 3 offers is right for you, I also created a quiz: The Offer Obbligato Quiz.
Answer a few questions and you'll have a much clearer idea of which offer — a product, a course, or a membership — is right for you and your peeps. Plus, I’ll share some tips to help you get started creating, promoting, and launching it with less overwhelm. Take the 2-minute quiz here!