At first glance, digital products can seem like a tough sell.
There's so much free information out there on the internet. How do you convince someone to pay for any of it?
One couple has built a thriving business around a digital product, to the tune of over $600,000 a year.
And their product isn't what you usually think of when you think “digital product.”
It's not ebooks, or online courses, or anything like that. It's actually not even an infoproduct.
It's patterns for doll dresses.
One of those little niche things you'd hardly even think of. The wife, Cinnamon, was already a talented seamstress.
So when their little girl started getting interested in dolls, they had a great idea for a niche product.
They created Pixie Faire, the largest online marketplace for doll dress patterns.
They have tons of independent designers who contribute to the site, and they've got patterns for just about every line of dolls.
They cover American Girl, Bitty Baby, Barbie, Monster High, and more.
It's a great place for crafty parents and grandparents to find inexpensive patterns, many of which are a great substitute for things like the notoriously pricey American Girl clothing and accessories.
In a recent blog post, Shopify interviews Cinnamon and Jason about their business, including how they did market research and found channels that drive traffic.
How did you come up with the idea for your business? What kind of market research did you undertake?
My wife did extensive market research with our daughters!
As most moms find out when their daughters reach six or seven, they get very fascinated with dolls, so we were introduced to the market through them.
What gave us the opportunity though, is that my wife is an exceptional seamstress and designer.
What channels are currently generating the most traffic and sales for you right now?
The first marketing tool we actively worked on was YouTube.
When we started our daughter was our celebrity spokesgirl. She's since become a teenager and wants nothing to do with it! YouTube worked very well.
Email marketing was the other channel we worked hard to grow. Now we have a list of almost 50,000.
Then Facebook came on the scene, Pinterest, and Instagram.
We also found that people wanted to use our patterns for their sew from home business.
For the first six months, we said that our patterns couldn't be used for commercial purposes. But people kept asking, and we wondered why we were being such jerks!
We flipped it around and created a Liberty Jane Partners Program.
Now we have almost 1,600 people that use our patterns for sew from home purposes and we reach them through a newsletter and a blog.
What other key advice can you offer to entrepreneurs looking to start a successful ecommerce business?
I think the biggest key is to focus very clearly on your product strategy and to work out whether your product has a high probability of success.
There are back corners of the Internet where people are actively looking for solutions and no one is serving them.
Those are the most interesting niches to discover.
You can get the full story over at the Shopify blog, where Cinnamon and Jason answer more questions about how they build their business.