How to Create Physical Products Without Breaking Your Freedom!

by Chris C. Ducker · 19 comments

This is a guest post by Greg Rollett.

We have grown accustomed to all things digital, just take notice at the “everything iPad” world we are marketed to everyday. Even Amazon has recently jumped into “cloud overdrive” with their new promotion to give away 20Gig of cloud storage if you buy a music album (great deal btw).

But for every bad Windows commercial that proclaims “to the cloud” there are millions of people all over the world who still love going into a store and trading their hard earned money to rip off the plastic packaging and hold their newfound love in their hands.

For the majority of Chris’s audience, you have been conditioned towards creating digital goods and services.

  • Membership sites
  • eBooks
  • Videos and video courses
  • Podcasts and audio series
  • Mobile Applications
  • Blogs
  • and so on

And while I wholeheartedly agree with this business model, a recent project has taken control of my product creation creativity and spawned…GASP…a physical product!

Many things come to mind when building and releasing a physical product. From

  • Product creation
  • Manufacturing
  • Duplication
  • Scaling
  • Shipping
  • Returns
  • Customer Service
  • And on and on we go

Over the next few paragraphs I am going to do my best to share some physical product creation tips to help ease your mind and get you thinking physical and the value that will bring to your marketplace.

Product Creation

This phase many of you are familiar with. Take your ideas, skills and talents and bundle them up into a consumable format. Nothing new here. Where you really need to start thinking and planning in the creation of a physical product is the time constraints.

Check with your manufacturer (more on this in a few) to see the maximum amounts of storage available on certain mediums. With our recent DVD we were limited to 2 hours of footage and a certain amount of storage for those 2Gigs.

Many CD’s if you are doing an audio program can hold around 72 minutes. This needs to be included in your planning stage as we had to cut out a few chapters and even an upsell video in order for our information to be put onto the product.

Manufacturing

There are multiple options to choose from when you are looking for a company to produce your physical products. We have looked into a multitude of options working with musicians, entrepreneurs and with our own products and here are some items and tips that might be quite valuable to you.

Custom MP3 PlayersIf you have the means, think outside of the CD or DVD. There are other media options. Custom MP3 players with your branding and logo are a big hit and you can often find 1 Gig iPod Nano look alikes with your branding and material pre-loaded for less than $5/ea. These products have a high perceived value and can be sold in your store for $20-100 or over greater depending on the material.

The Chinese still have great prices and great turnaround, but be prepared to buy in bulk. (This is not an option for our company as we want low to no inventory and I’ll share some more of how we do this below.) For some musicians we have been able to source CD cases that look like Nintendo Cartridges, giant Hulk hands with custom download links on them and even recording devices that act as magnets we have used for show promotion.

Always get samples. Yes, this delays the timing of your launch, but by scheduling demos and samples you ensure that your CUSTOMERS, the most important part of this equation, gets the highest quality product that you can offer.

All of these options are great, but my favorite model of them all is the…

Print And Ship Model

The print on demand industry has been around for some time now with t-shirt companies like Zazzle and others that will print your picture on a coffee mug to send to your mom on Mother’s Day. But only recently has the industry become reliable in the same fashion as a fulfillment center, and at a cost where us online entrepreneurs can still turn a nice profit.

If you are looking to produce CD’s or an audio series (like a “best of your Podcast” physical product) I would recommend looking into a California start-up called Audiolife. They are one of my favorite companies with great customer support, above high-quality printing and timely shipping of the products.

Even better for you is that they can act as your storefront via a widget or custom code, collect your money via PayPal, redirect their portion and then send you your profits. All of that happens while they print your product and ship it out. Meaning you never have to touch it, see it or package it. That is truly collecting money on autopilot if there is such a thing.

My other big source is what we are currently using for our new DVD, and that is Kunaki. This has been an Internet Marketing trade secret for some time now as they can print and ship a DVD for about $5. Yes, you read that right, printing and shipping for $5. And for you cool kids getting a few orders a day, you can just import your order list into Kunaki, pay for the DVD’s and they will print and ship them right to your customers.

Thus solving the issues of spending time with inventory and shipping and still covering your margins to run a highly successful virtual business.

Boo-yah!

Will You Go Physical?

There are hundreds and thousands of other ways to source and build physical products, but these are some of the best we have found and the ones that have been working for us. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are and if you have any tips or resources for people looking to create physical products and not create inventory or stress into the freedom of our business.

Share your thoughts below.

Greg Rollett comes to us from over at Radically Ambitious, an Internet Marketing and Lifestyle Creation Company. Want to learn more about physical products or just chat, find Greg on Twitter as well.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Salvatore Greco May 6, 2011 at 22:22

Damn!!!! I love the mini nano look a likes…. Perceived value through the roof. You can load that up with all of your podcast/webinar type material. Even an audio book version of an eBook. Then the person can even fill up more space with audo books from other authors they like. It would be a personal self/help, business ePod!!!

Surfs up,

Reply

Chris C. Ducker May 7, 2011 at 01:46

I Ditto that, too, Sal.

In fact – I’m already on it…!!! :-) nudge, nudge, wink, wink…!

Greg – great piece of content,b uddy. Thanks again.

C

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Salvatore Greco May 8, 2011 at 02:31

You sly entrepreneur you…. Excited to see what comes out of your lab!

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Martin May 13, 2011 at 06:53

I have to say Salvatore thats some incredible idea! See your surf is definitely on! It would be fun though to see how this is implemented, plus it could do for some really good welcome pack kind of thing. Now youve got bells ringing in my head!

Martinsays: Thanks

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Salvatore Greco May 19, 2011 at 21:02

You know reading this makes me want to create a physical nano product… OF MUSIC THAT AMPS YOU UP. I really don’t want to deal with music licensing issues though…

Salsays: Martin You Crazy!!!!

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Ralph May 6, 2011 at 22:48

Greg,
This is great information even if I am not even close to a physical product. It helps to know the lay of the land before you get there. This can seem like an obstacle and delay your progress. With the new technology and business services its no big deal.

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Mike Stankavich May 7, 2011 at 08:29

Configure/build to order hasn’t been talked about as much for a while, but it’s still a hugely powerful concept. Thanks for the T-Shirt link – my wife wants to sell t-shirts from our travel blog. Yes, I’m all about mobile apps right now, but this is a good reminder that there’s another way.

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Chris C. Ducker May 8, 2011 at 19:52

Good stuff, Mike.

I’ve been pointed towards http://www.printmojo.com/ for on-demand printing for t-shirts, etc. Check it out, bud.

I’ve not used them before, but they are bookmarked on my laptop!

Good luck to the wife..!!!

C

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Greg Rollett May 9, 2011 at 10:17

@Mike – one of the best ways to go about starting a t-shirt company is to use something like 99 Designs or Crowd Spring to source t-shirt designs then using a print and ship on demand service. Great way to start a business overnight. And you can always send upsell and cross sell information in the physical package.

Good luck to your wife.

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Mike Stankavich May 11, 2011 at 21:05

Greg, thanks for the tips. I’ll check out the print on demand services as well has have some printed locally (Manila area). At this point my wife is sketching what she wants on paper, then we are having an artist that we hired through oDesk design cartoons from her sketch and description of what she wants. So far, so good. We’ll see what happens when we go live with the website next month. I’ll go ahead and plug it even though there’s only a placeholder until next month when our designer will bring on the awesome – check out http://familyonthemove.com.

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Chris C. Ducker May 12, 2011 at 01:31

Oh, I better get a link on that site, along with Chris G, Mike…!!!
:-)

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Mike Stankavich May 12, 2011 at 03:58

Oh yeah Chris, you definitely get a link. I’ll also be looking for opportunities to work in VSF affiliate stuff and any other affiliate programs that you launch that fit the site’s purpose.

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Chris C. Ducker May 12, 2011 at 18:42

Good stuff…!!!

Then, I look forward to making a little money with you then. The Virtual Staff Finder service goes from strength to strength, with every passing month. It’s a great little business model – and something that we’ll be expanding on in the second half of the year…

Cheers,

C

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Angela Artemis/Powered by Intuition May 7, 2011 at 21:21

Chris,
You’ve given us some great ideas. I’ve just finished my first book and am thinking of adding a workbook and accompanying CD to go with it, so your article was very timely. Thank you for sharing all this valuable information.

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Chris C. Ducker May 8, 2011 at 19:50

Hi Angela

Greg put together a great article, I’m glad it helped out a little…

Good luck with the product launch, too. Keep us all up-to-date on it all, okay! :-)

C

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Todd Breen May 8, 2011 at 13:14

Great article! Would love to learn more about buying video cams direct from China. Would that be possible?

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Greg Rollett May 9, 2011 at 10:19

@Todd – the best way to do it is to Google the companies. You can usually get free test products. Find 3-4 of them and see what they can send you and what will work best for your customers.

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Benny May 9, 2011 at 02:10

Where are the knock off iPads? :)

Great info on physical products. I appreciate providing resources to point us in the right direction. I’ve always thought about the tshirt business.

Any knowledge of sites that make prints and ship for you? Like posters or custom illustrations to sell.

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Mic May 21, 2011 at 11:42

Hi,

There is no website mentioned for were we could get quality ipod nano look-a-likes done for our audios. Please provide at least sites that make quality products that we could check out, especially ones that don’t require us to bulk order.

Thanks.

Reply

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