How To Decide What Product To Make NextThis month I’m in the midst of creating three new products (one for IttyBiz, two that are ghostwriting for other clients), and I’m reminded of how difficult it can be for people to choose which product they’re going to make next.

Generally, there’s never an idea problem – there’s a too-many-ideas problem.

I personally have a list of 22 products on my “would love to make” mind map, and there’s no way they’re all going to become real. From what I’ve heard from others, they’re in the same boat. How do you decide which one to make next? And what about the one after that?

It can be dizzying, and so more often than not, we can simply avoid think about it. Too complicated. Maybe later. (Unfortunately, that ends up being far later than we’d like.)

So today, I’ll share my 4-step process for choosing a “next” product.

Let's dig in!

Step 1 – Pick an initial set of 3 to choose from.

If you have a whack of product ideas, just grab 3 that feel particularly interesting to you and write down their (working) names on a piece of paper.

Usually I start my list with the product idea I’m most excited about, or that I think might be the most successful (whether that’s by amount of money made, number of total buyers, or some other metric I care about).

Then I add two other ideas that feel like they might be good alternatives to that initial one. (Alternatives tend to be the other products you've been waffling on making – the ones that you think you should get to creating sometime.)

And if you’re truly starting from zero – if you don’t actually have alternative ideas, you just know you need to create SOMETHING next – just make them up. Write down 3 viable ideas that seem like something you could create, if you had to.

(Oh, and also write down the rough price point you’re thinking of for each one.)

Here’s a completely made-up example of 3 ideas I could be evaluating as potential “next” products:

  1. Class about making snazzy pro graphics ($97)
  2. Ebook + system for getting more client referrals ($197)
  3. Workshop on list incentives ($47)

So now we have 3 ideas. Time for the next step.

Step 2 – Compare the basic potential of each product.

Each of your 3 different ideas will have its own inherent marketability for your particular audience. Basically, you’re looking to take a rough guess at how likely your people are to buy each idea at each price point.

We are only looking for a rough guess for the purposes of comparison. We’re not guessing how much money any one product could make – we’re seeing which one seems like it has a shot of making the most money. (Or whatever your metric is).

This requires some thought. You have to think about each product, and each price point, and look at the audience you have access to. And then you take a basic guess, just to have something to start with.

Here are my examples again:

  1. Class about making snazzy pro graphics ($97)
  2. Ebook + system for getting more client referrals ($197)
  3. Workshop on list incentives ($47)

So I look at these 3, and I think, well, the one that would probably sell the least would be #1. A nice portion of my audience might want it, but it’s not a must-have for them. So it's unlikely to win the product gladiator match.

Idea #2 has a lot of potential. Only a portion of my audience actively wants clients, but it’s a sexier product and would probably convert pretty well. It could make good money, and the higher price point would counteract the smaller number of buyers.

Idea #3, however, could appeal to pretty much everyone on my list. So, more potential buyers than the previous idea. Plus, it’s less expensive, so it’s easier to buy. It could make good money, maybe comparable to idea #2. The lower price + more potential buyers might even make it the winner. Who knows?

So even this initial round of thought can give me an idea of how well these ideas might fare in the marketplace. I now know that idea #1 isn’t that compelling when compared to #2 and #3, which kind of look about equal to me at this point.

We're halfway through the process! Now let's look at the next step.

Step 3 – Look at the work required for each product.

Now we’ll take our ideas and guess at how much work it might take to create each one. Here are the examples again:

  1. Class about making snazzy pro graphics ($97)
  2. Ebook + system for getting more client referrals ($197)
  3. Workshop on list incentives ($47)

At first glance, #2 seems like the least work for me. It’s an ebook, it will probably be editorial with templates and processes, and it’s basically teaching. So it’s on the easier end.

Idea #1 feels like it would be significantly more work. Teaching people design and how to use design tools is more complex work in comparison. There would probably be videos and tutorials. It’s not too hard, it’s just more work up front.

But on the other hand, it doesn’t require as much writing. Making some screencasts would be easier, on a level, than writing 10,000 words or more. So idea #1 has its pros and cons.

Idea #3 is interesting – it’s probably the easiest product to build, but there are likely to be more components inside it than other products.

A lot more examples, a lot more detail on the various types of incentives… it could actually end up taking more work hours than either of the other two ideas, at least when I think about what I’d want to include in it.

Now, we take a pause. (Deeeeep breath in.)

At this point I’ve put some basic thought into how much money I might make with each product, and how much work I’d have to put in create each one.

Now, I sit with that. How do I feel about all of these ideas?

My gut tells me to toss idea #1. I’m just not that into the snazzy graphics class. And truth be told, it’s a neat idea, but not one I care that much about.

Ideas #2 and #3 are neck-and-neck. I think I actually might make more money with the referral ebook, but the list incentive workshop seems easier overall.

So how do I choose which one to make?

Trick question.

I don’t choose yet.

Step 4 – The Dance-Off!

Here’s where it gets interesting. (And, ultimately, profitable.)

I built this process while working with Naomi over the years – I’ve been a (silent) co-developer on most of the items in the Karma Store, and it’s been a part of our design process for a long time.

The starting point for this process is to assume that “your first idea is your worst idea”.

So far in this process, I’ve been comparing a first-draft version of each of these product ideas. I’m judging these ebooks by their cover. It’s not a fair competition, because I'm not working with a fully-developed set of ideas.

So… in this final step, I’m going to spend some time refining my ideas. Maybe 15-30 minutes thinking about each one.

And I’m going to ask myself a few questions like these:

  • What can I change about this idea to make it more compelling to buyers?
  • What can I change to make it easier to create?
  • What can I change to allow me to raise the price? (Or, what could I leave out to make it cost less?)
  • What are all the possible features and components I could include in this?
  • What if I scrapped my original format and did it a different way?

Basically, I take each product idea and tweak it and mess around with it to see if I can clearly make it a better choice than the other ones. I treat it like a competition, and pit the ideas against each other, survival-of-the-fittest style.

It’s just a dance-off.

Whichever idea ultimately demonstrates the best moves wins.

Work it, product ideas!

This process creates a strong, marketable product idea.

Instead of rolling with just a single idea, this process allows you to evolve a superior version of your next product.

Maybe superior will mean “better” – or maybe it will mean “easier to make”. Either way you’ll have more confidence that you’ve picked an idea worth pursuing – and that your audience is likely to buy.

And when you have an idea you can get behind, your next product becomes a lot easier to make.

Good luck deciding on your next product – and if you need any help writing it, drop me a line.

Take care,

Kris Faraldo

Unlock the IttyBiz Freebie Vault – 15 premium resources you can use to instantly get your ittybiz growing!

Unlock the IttyBiz Freebie Vault!