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Today we've got another Lazy Launch episode in store for you. Remember, I use the term “lazy launch” in a positive way here! Lazy launches are launches that you put together without the stress, overwhelm and months of unnecessary preparation leading up beforehand.
There are a lot of different ways you can make a lazy launch work for you, and today’s guest is no exception! She's a true inspiration, especially for people looking into how to create passive income for photographers or other service providing roles.
I’m joined by Rachel Greiman, a copywriter and a documentary family photographer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She owns Green Chair Stories, a company committed to writing words and taking photographs that look and sound like real people.
Rachel worked as a writer and photographer for nonprofits for over 10 years, but somewhere in there she started doing family photography on the side, which eventually became her full-time business. She also began copywriting for other photographers, which became her primary focus.
She entered the digital product space when she realized that she only had two options for her target customers – either providing full copywriting services for them, or nothing. Rachel decided that she wanted to find a way, through digital products, to help her customers that couldn’t afford her services but still needed help with their copywriting. That’s how her digital product ideas were born.
On today’s episode of the podcast, Rachel is going to walk us through her digital product launch experiences. And you're going to want to grab that pen and paper or at least take lots of mental notes, because this is definitely going to get your creative juices flowing for sure!
It's amazing how passive income for photographers has begun to grow.
Rachel launched her very first digital product in 2019. For years, she had a lot of photographers coming to her and asking for help with their copy, but weren’t able to afford the full rates for Rachel’s copywriting services. As Rachel says, she had no stepping stone between her free social media content and her full services, and she decided to fix that.
“I had been compiling things that I thought were teachable to people who were not copywriters for at least two years, maybe more, in a Google doc. And I would just add to it every time I got questions from the client… Eventually I took myself on a retreat in the woods in the summer of 2019. And I just wrote a guide.”
That guide became Rachel’s DIY website guide for photographers. It took them through the entire process that she does with her clients one-on-one, at a level non-copywriters could understand. This was a big sticking point for Rachel – she knew that her audience would mainly be photographers that had no experience writing copy, so she wanted to make sure it was tailored to their level.
The development of this product felt very organic for her, because she had been hearing from her audience for so long that it was something they needed. She admits that she really had no selling strategy while she was creating it, but just knew it fit an identified gap and would be high value for her audience.
This is a great strategy that business owners who are primarily service providers can use to develop digital products. Once you figure out how you can serve the people who can’t afford or choose not to pay for your services, you can work with and profit off of those people as well! It’s a great supplementary approach, especially if you want to continue client work.
Rachel’s primary business is not selling products, so wanted to launch her first product in a way that felt comfortable and interesting for her. It was also right around the same time that she had rebranded her whole website in 2019 and she wanted to have the product as a part of the rebrand.
Rachel knew that she’d have to teach herself whatever launch strategy she decided to pursue, so she decided that if she was going to spend the time learning how to launch, she wanted to make it fun and worthwhile.
She looked up free launch plans and spoke to launch copywriter friends to get a better idea of what works. After hearing about a few different launch strategies, she decided that she wanted to do a really big giveaway for her first product launch. She picked Instagram as her main platform, because that’s where she spent the most time.
Rachel bought almost $600 worth of her favorite gear and products for her photography business, like camera bags and memory cards. The day she launched, she posted a picture of everything she was giving away and announced her launch.
The rules were simple, you had to follow Rachel and tag another photographer. Rachel says that also she let everyone know who was following her during the giveaway that they could get a discount for her product if they signed up for her email list.
Rachel said that this giveaway strategy worked really well. While she may not do it again in the same way, it was really fun and was a great way to launch her rebrand and product.
A key piece of her strategy was using Instagram – at the time that’s where she was most active and really enjoyed interacting with her audience on the platform. The giveaway allowed her to grow her very specific, niche audience. She also made sure to continue to post high-value free content, because she wanted them to continue following her after the giveaway.
Another key piece of her strategy was including a sense of urgency for her product. During the giveaway period, she discounted her product to encourage people to buy.
Rachel worked hard on her sales pages. She spent a lot of time writing, researching and invested in a designer to create a beautiful page to sell the product.
What Rachel didn’t spend a lot of time on was her email strategy. At the time, she really didn’t like emailing and hadn’t consistently been emailing her list, so she only sent two or three sales emails total the week that she launched. Even this was stressful, so she wanted to keep this part of her launch minimal and instead focus her efforts on Instagram.
For her first email, Rachel sent an email introducing the product. Then she sent a second email about how her product helped someone. She said she remembers feeling salesy because she sent a final call sales email as her third email.
Looking back, Rachel says that she wished she leaned in a bit more to this email strategy. She had built a product that she was really proud of, and she wishes that she had accepted the fact that it’s okay to talk about a product you’ve created to a list of people that have voluntarily signed up to receive emails.
“I was really afraid to talk about it because I felt I told them so many times, like on Instagram, my stories, and I have now e-mailed you twice about it. You must be done hearing from me. And it's like, Rachel, no one's going to come to you. You have to say it a billion times.”
Rachel says that sometimes as female entrepreneurs, we feel like we’re bragging, or it’s narcissistic to talk about something we’ve created. It can be really hard to talk about something you’ve done to convince people to buy it! But know that even if it feels difficult, it is okay to be proud of your product and share that with your audience – that’s why they’re following you.
Even though she didn’t have an email strategy, the launch actually succeeded in doubling her email list and gave her a new audience to communicate with afterwards. Many of these people have since stayed on her list – and that’s because Rachel buckled down on her email strategy and made sure she continued to nurture these people after her launch.
If she ever does this kind of launch again, Rachel says she’ll spread out the timeline a little bit more to give more people time between the giveaway and launch announcement. She did both so close together,and says that this taught her for future launches that she needs to take more time to build her list and nurture her audience before the giveaway and launch.
Rachel’s guide full price costs $199, it comes with an additional bonus resources section with people you can hire, templates you can buy, books you can read and podcasts you can listen to, valued at $100.
During the launch period, she discounted the price to $139 for anyone on her email list. That was only available for a few days to add a sense of urgency.
She sold 85 during launch week, which brought in about $12,000. Rachel said that she had higher expectations initially, but what she was most surprised about was how the pace of her sales over the next three months never went down. She brought in 12k the first month, 10k the second month, and 9k the third month.
“I did not expect it to have these kind of ripple effects into my income for the rest of the year. I thought it would just be like a big thing and done.”
The second product Rachel launched was email templates for photographers. Much like her first product, Rachel developed her second product using feedback she had received from her existing customers. This product was also developed really organically, because it fit exactly into a gap that a lot of her clients had been asking for help with.
“I'm not kidding. I think I wrote it down like, 33 times, 33 different people asked me to write templates for them. I knew that photographers really struggle. Poor people, they're photographers! They did not sign up to be like email strategists.”
Rachel said she used her own email workflow, including all of the points of contact that she has with people, to write out an email workflow for photographers. She also developed over 20 email plug and play templates that photographers can add their own process into.
It covers two areas of need – shows people when they should be communicating with their clients and how often, and what they need to say.
Like her first launch, Rachel also heavily relied on social media to launch her email templates. But this time, she posted in her client Facebook group and offered a $5 discount for everyone, and offered to giveaway the product for free to the first few people who shared her product on social media.
She also wrote more emails to her list this time around. Before her launch she had taken time to plan out when and what she wanted to email but didn’t actually write the emails themselves. Every morning during her launch, she sat down to write the email first thing in the morning. It was a lot to get done.
“I always say like #noedits right now in this season of life, because I'm a mom and I don't have time to edit my emails. And so that's how I felt sending those e-mails out every morning. I was like, there's no time like this. This is the maximum capacity that I have, the fact that I'm launching a product, I deserve a Nobel Peace Prize.”
This is where the lazy launch comes in. Even though it felt like a lot, Rachel didn’t let herself stress too much about the work that she was doing because her strategy was working. Other people sharing her product got a lot of traction and she knew that her product was niche enough – she doesn’t have a ton of competitors in the space. It felt like a good place to be.
The email templates now cost $76, but during the launch they were priced at $38. That got a ton of traction because it was such a cheap product at $38, and Rachel created a sense of urgency by keeping it at that price for only five days.
At the discounted price, she sold 178 of her email templates. That was almost $7000 for the launch – a great amount for a 30-something dollar product that she only posted about on social media once.
Rachel’s business isn’t built around passive income and digital products. But even though they’re a more supplementary thing, she says she’d definitely build another product if the need was there. There's lots of opportunity for passive income for photographers.
She doesn’t think she’s the kind of business owner who will fully transition over to digital products, because that isn’t the way her brain works. Instead, she’s more comfortable focusing on what she knows her customers need and providing solutions for them.
One thing Rachel is considering is partnering with other people who are looking to create digital products for their audience. She’s excited about the prospect of making products with other photographers and entrepreneurs, but letting others be responsible for the launching side of things so she can focus on what she’s good at, which is creating something helpful.
That being said, Rachel has actually really enjoyed launching her products.
“I was in a tough spot with my business in December and not feeling it. It was just being run down from being a mom and having child care and still trying to run this thing. And doing the launch really energized me in a way that I did not think it would. It was the most fun I had probably all year in my business.”
What she has realized from launching is that she needs it to feel good in her heart and at a good time for her. More than just making income, Rachel is trying to build a business that she enjoys, because if it’s taking her away from her kids then it better be something that is fun and feels worth spending her time on.
Want to launch a product for the first time, or plan a “lazy launch”? Rachel has a few tips for you that she’s learned from her launch experience. These tips will be well suited for to anyone interested in passive income for photographers specifically.
1. Find someone who’s smarter than you in the launch space and ask them to look over your plans and your copy.
“Having people look at my strategy and just recommend just a couple tweaks here and there ended up making a huge difference for me.”
2. Pay someone to audit your launch. If you don’t have a friend who can support you or you’re looking for a professional, you can pay someone to look at your plans and make suggestions.
3. Give yourself more time than you think. That’s even if you’re planning to lazy launch.
“Don't try to do everything the week that you're going to do it, because you'll realize I should have been doing X, Y and Z like two months ago.”
Launching without enough time to plan sounds pretty terrible for everyone involved. So make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing!
Pick up a copy of Rachel’s freebie, Copy Lenses, for photographers and other service-based businesses on her website Green Chair Stories. This download is an exercise that will find clarity on what you want in business, who you want to serve and how you want to do it. Every time you sit down to write copy about your business, it should be filtered through this guiding north star lens.
Follow Rachel on instagram at @GreenChairStories.