I know you’ve heard of Lil Nas X.
But have you heard of YoungKio?
He’s the 20 year old Dutch producer who created the country trap beat (btw, with a NIN sample) that took the pop charts by storm.
YoungKio (née Kiowa Roukema) sold the beat to Nas X (whom he had never met) for $30 via the BeatStars digital marketplace. His producer-friendly contract stipulated 50% royalties… the rest is history.
YoungKio’s story shows that creating small digital projects is a fun, accessible, and “non” gatekept path for creative expression with a ton of optionality.
When it comes to digital products, here’s a warning: they are the furthest thing possible from a get rich quick scheme. The cowboy hat from Gucci will have to wait. But here are a few ideas to get you started:
Idea #1: The thing you already do
Nat Eliason (one of our raddest, RadReaders) wants to sell you a portion of his brain.
Nope, this ain’t some twisted sci-fi plot; it’s lifetime access to his reading notes over 250 books he’s read.
Here’s Eliason’s pitch from his website: If you went out and bought all of these books, you’d pay around $3,000. If you then spent the 3-6 hours reading each book, and 1-2 hours taking notes on them, it’d take you anywhere from 800 – 1,600 hours to recreate this.
How much does lifetime access cost? $25 bucks.
Nat was kind enough to share some of the data on this little digital project.
You read that right. That’s $32,200 in lifetime revenue for an Evernote notebook of his reading notes!!!! He shared some additional figures:
- The best month was $3,220 (April 2020)
- It’s generated > $1,000/month since November 2019 and > $500/mo since December 2018
Idea #2: The templates
Do your friends salivate over your Excel skills?
Did your consulting days teach you a thing or two about making dope Powerpoints?
Are your Notion templates straight ????
Templates are a super-lightweight way to get into the digital products game. And with cheap DIY digital storefronts (like Gumroad), you can launch and sell your templates within minutes.
Here’s RadReader Paul Millerd, a recovering management consultant (turned digital nomad) capitalizing on his presentation skills:
- Start building on the weekends (and follow the fun)
- Selling workout programming around a niche (pilates, Crossfit, TRX)
- Selling premium Notion templates (for planning, performance management, and gamifying your life)
- (Note: I don’t sell Notion templates, opting instead to provide them to our students and alums)
Idea #3: Learning in public
Learning journeys are fun and aspirational. Yet unless you’re deeply in touch with your curiosities AND super self-motivated, learning on your own can be a lonely and meandering exercise.
So why not create a learning journey for someone else? Here’s an example from Danielle Morrill:
Using the free Substack email platform, Morrill created a paid daily newsletter ($10/month or $100/year). The subscriber numbers are not public, but as of this writing she’s still in the “As” (reviewing $ADC, $ADES, $ADI, $ADIL). You can see how Substack easily manages the paying subscribers:
(A common Learning in Public product is sharing how you grew your social media audience. I think there’s a lot of snake oil being sold here, but if you’ve followed someone for a long time and seen them do it, the proof is in the pudding. I’d consider this course from Daniel Vassallo, whose feed I respect and enjoy.)
Remember, this ain’t a get rich quick scheme
In fact, digital product creation is much more of a Fast Tortoise approach. Slow and steady, creating your own luck until your own YoungKio moment! The magic about digital products is that it’s a low-risk way to experiment and develop new skills.
Any of the products listed above will teach you about:
- Audience development
- Product design and naming
- Marketing and copywriting
- Graphic design
- Building websites
- Payment processing
- Customer support
You can think of these projects as a Micro-MBA. And maybe… just maybe… you can go from riding on your horse to whipping up your Porsche.