So far in this series, I’ve argued that it’s a great idea to create and sell a digital product, and we’ve surveyed the wide range of options you have available for what sort of product to create. But this is the point at which many of us get stuck. We can’t come up with a product idea that seems good enough. Or maybe we haven’t got any ideas at all.

But coming up with product ideas isn’t actually as difficult as you might think. In this post I want to suggest five very simple questions that I’ve used myself and found surprisingly helpful in pointing me towards what I should be building next.

1. What are your skills?

Your first and most obvious task is to answer the question “what am I good at”? This will set some broad parameters for what sort of product you should consider creating.

So if you’re an expert in medieval history, then why not write an e-book about it? Or if you are a motorcycle maintenance guru, then you could create a series of tutorial videos running through how to perform various tasks.

If you are a Java programmer with Android development experience, then the obvious choice is to create an Android app. Yes, it would be cool to learn Swift and iOS development, but beware of overloading yourself with too much new stuff to learn in one go. Remember you’ll also need to invest quite a bit of time into learning some marketing techniques.

2. What are you passionate about?

What subject gets you really excited? What topic could you talk about for hours? Maybe it’s football, or perhaps you’re all about helping more girls to choose a career in technology. Whatever it is for you, it can be a great idea to create a product that relates in some way to your passion. The reason is, you’ll need a fair bit of persistence in order to not just complete your product, but to take the time to market and promote it. So it will help a lot if it’s something that gets you excited.

3. Who are you connected with?

You’re going to need to find people to sell your digital product to, and the best way to do that is to take advantage of any audience you are already connected with. So if you have a blog for example, who’s reading it? Which posts have proved most popular? Do you have a following on social media, or maybe you are a well-known member of an online forum or community? You’ll stand a much greater chance of success if you create a product you can market to the people you are already connected with.

4. Whose needs do you understand?

When we try to come up with product ideas, we naturally gravitate to the kind of thing we would like ourselves. And that makes sense, because you need to understand your customer, and if your customer is people like you, then you have a good idea what the customer wants! But don’t discount creating products for different groups of people. The real-world relationships you have with friends and family members can give you great insights into what other groups of people would like. For example, my children will gladly tell me which computer games they think are the best – and it’s not always what I would expect. So take advantage of your inside track to the minds of other people.

5. What can you reuse?

When you’re creating a digital product, you don’t have to start from square one. Those really popular blog posts you wrote a few years back could form the core content for an e-book. That training course you gave that went down so well could be turned into video training material. That little utility you wrote for your own benefit could be given a bit of a UI overhaul and a few more features and it would be a fantastic little product. Those half-completed song ideas could be given their finishing touches and speed your way to producing your next album. So take an inventory of anything you’ve previously built that you could reuse. You can save yourself a lot of time by building your product on top of something you’ve already done.

So those are my five questions. I hope they inspire some good ideas. Did you find them helpful? Is there something else that you would suggest as a great way to come up with product ideas? Let me know in the comments.

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