Building a Blog You Love: Creating a Remarkable Product

{Poster created by Sian Richardson. Download the high res version and Pin to Pinterest using the button at the bottom of the article}.

Welcome to another installment of my Building a Blog You Love series, and let me just start by saying – you are in for a serious treat today!

I’ll hazard a guess you’re familiar with my gorgeous friend Jess Ainscough – writer, health coach, cancer kickin’ creator of The Wellness Warrior and all-round joyful soul – but what you probably haven’t heard as yet is just how much of herself she’s poured into her revolutionary guide to mind-body reinvention, The Wellness Warrior Lifestyle Transformation Guide.

Below you’ll find Jess generously sharing the process of creating The LTG in full detail (for the first time!), as well as her strategies for growing The Wellness Warrior over the past two years. This is the kind of juicy, insight-packed resource I know I’ll refer back to when I’m creating products myself and I hope you do too.

Bookmark it, print it, share it with your friends (help ’em out!)… and enjoy!

Let’s start with your gorgeous site. The Wellness Warrior is my go-to for inspiration on healthy living and it never ceases to amazes me what a brilliant job you’ve done growing your tribe. Can you share what’s worked for you over the past two years when it comes to attracting readers/ subscribers/ raving fans? 

Sure! I think the reason my blog has gained such a loyal following is because I’ve shown up to speak to my readers every day for over two years. When I write for them, I speak to them like they are my friends and family – because they are!

The people reading my blog have listened compassionately as I’ve bared my soul to them – the tough times and the breakthroughs. We’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions together, but the whole time we’ve had each other’s back. Like any family, we’ve argued, we’ve cried, we’ve consoled each other, and we’ve collectively cheered. I don’t censor anything from them – I’m totally real and raw. This has really been the major key to my growing tribe.

There have also been some strategic steps. Guest posting on other blogs with big audiences has helped, so has conducting interviews with people with large followings (they will usually share the interview for you). My newsletter subscribers grew substantially when I changed my opt-in offer to my current 80+ Green Smoothie Recipes e-book. This was a game changer for my newsletter list, growing it from about 2000 to 10,000 in seven months.

I committed to my blog like it was a lucrative job right from the beginning (I didn’t make any money for about 18 months). I’ve treated it with the same respect, making sure everything is top standard, putting my own money into it, and working with the best people to turn it into something that actually would make money.

Tell us a bit about The Lifestyle Transformation Guide and what the drive force was behind creating it. 

The idea for The Lifestyle Transformation Guide was born from the burn out I was experiencing when I was doing one-on-one coaching. I had taken on too many clients and my self care and happiness was being compromised – however I didn’t want to stop coaching, so I decided to package my program into an online format, with a few tweaks here and there. It was a way I could help more people, at a lower cost to them, without harming my own health.

The Guide is made up of 12 steps, designed to take you from where you are now to wherever you want to be on your wellness journey. Each step is also designed to build upon the one before it, so that you are only moving on to the next once you’ve made a habit out of the one before it. Before you know it, sustainable transformation has been achieved!

In each of the steps you will find gorgeously designed mini e-books and worksheets, video demonstrations, video and audio lessons, recipes, and lots of interviews with amazing wellness experts. It also includes bonuses like The Wellness Warrior Manifesto and desktop backgrounds with inspirational quotes – all designed up all stunningly, of course. (psst: you can get access via this link {affiliate}. It’s freaking amazing!)

How long ago did the idea take shape in your mind and what have you done since to bring it to life?

The idea formed in my mind at the end of last year, but I didn’t start totally focusing on it until about April this year. I launched my e-book Make Peace With Your Plate in February, and then took a month off before diving into the next one.

Step 1: Mapping out the plan

I used a Word doc to come up with each of the steps I wanted to include in The Guide. To decide on the steps, I looked back at my own personal transformation at gave a lot of thought to what worked, what didn’t, and in what order the steps needed to be taken to be most effective, enjoyable and sustainable.

I decided I wanted a range of elements in each steps: written, worksheet, video, and interview. I then decided what content I wanted in each step, what could be turned into a worksheet, what videos I wanted to film and which experts I wanted to approach for interviews.

Step 2: Branding and design

Because I knew this was going to be a pretty big job, I gave my designer a heads up pretty early on. We came up with a logo design first, and then she carried that branding out into the other elements of both the sales page and the members site.

Step 3: Website set-up

I have DIY’d in the past, but this time I knew I wanted to hire some help to set up all of the website stuff. I am so thankful that I did! My VA is an absolute whizz. She set up Optimize Press and Wishlist (the two WordPress plugins that were needed for The LTG), and she has done all of the coding, page layouts, and been at my service whenever I came across something that is way to technical for me.

Step 4: Line up interviews

I aimed high for this one, approaching all of the people on my interview wish list. Some declined due to other commitments (it’s tricky when they are in hiding writing books or travelling), but most of them agreed. Yay!

I sent each of them an interview packet outlining everything about the program, everything about me, and everything about my website including stats. Then, I booked in a time to chat with them over Skype. This can also be tricky when you’re talking with people in a different time zone. There were several mornings when I was sitting at my computer with a face full of make-up at 6am talking to someone in the US.

I recorded all of my interviews using Call Recorder for Mac.

Step 5: Marketing plan

I did a big 21 days of giveaways promotion when I launched my e-book and while that was awesome, it really drained me. So this time I decided to keep it simple. This is what I did:

1 // I gave sneak peeks into The Guide by posting a short snippet of the interviews on my blog each Wednesday during about 10 weeks leading up to the launch.

2 // I created a newsletter list purely for The LTG updates, and sent them teasers like behind the scenes pics, launch info, and a free gift.

3 // I enlisted the help of awesome affiliates to spread the word.

4 // I filmed a gorgeous promo!

5 // I did a launch month giveaway to create urgency – everyone who bought the program during the first month went in the draw to win either a Vitamix blender or one of 10 runner up prizes.

Step 6: Content creation

Writing all of the copy, gathering all of the interviews, and collecting all of the bits and pieces from all of the contributors.

Step 7: Film videos

I did this over a couple of days, and spent money hiring the best so that they would be amazing quality.

Step 8: Content design

I sent all of my content to my designer for her to work her magic.

Step 9: Pricing decision

This was tough. I originally thought I was creating a program that would be $150, but as I continued to create I realised that The Guide was growing into something far beyond what I first anticipated. So, after A LOT of debilitating, throwing numbers around and consulting with my power posse, I decided on $979. I wanted to keep it under $1000, and my speaking coach told me that I have to end in a 79 because people respond better to 7s and 9s (and you have to have them in the order of small to big because that’s good feng shui).

But then, things changed again. After I launched it at this price something wasn’t feeling right in my gut. I wanted to make the program more accessible to my readers, while still keeping it at a price that reflected its worth, so I eventually landed on $579. As soon as I changed the price the icky feeling in my gut went away.

The moral? Always trust your intuition.

Step 10: Film promo

I left this until the very end, but ideally it should have been done sooner around about this step. I wanted to tell the story of my own personal lifestyle transformation and illustrate it with gorgeous shots from my life. I am SO stoked with how it turned out. This is probably my favourite part of the whole thing ha ha.

Step 11: Set up membership site

I uploaded all of the designed content and videos into each of the 12 step pages.

Step 12: Set up sales page

I uploaded all of the copy (which Alex Franzen helped me come up with) as well as the videos (I have a video on almost every page), and badges.

Step 13: Set up affiliate program

My VA set this up for me, and then I created the content for the affiliate centre – all of the copy & pasteable language and promotional badges.

Step 14: Test that everything works

I had my power posse help me test that the affiliate program process and the membership sign up process works smoothly and makes sense.

Step 15: Approach affiliates

A week and a half before the launch, I approached all of the people who I wanted to become affiliates, and also put a call out to my LTG newsletter list.

Step 16: Launch!

First I sent an email to everyone on the LTG newsletter list, and then posted a blog on my website and sent an email to my Wellness Warrior newsletter list. Then I posted it on Facebook and Twitter. I also sent all of my affiliates a reminder to start promoting.

I know a high-density project this in-depth takes a village. Who have you worked with along the way? Who helped take this idea from inspiration to reality?

Okay, my dream team includes:

+ Susana and Nicola – my power posse who helped me shape the idea, kept me accountable, were there for me to bounce ideas off of, helped me with any confusion and told me to keep breathing. I couldn’t have done it without them!

+ Sian Richardson – my freaking amazingly talented designer. One brief and the girl totally gets my whole vision, and then lays it out for me so much better than I could ever imagine. She is the best.

+ Tina Caldwell – my super star VA. She is so fast, so nice, and so patient.

+ Luke Middlemiss from Playback Films – Luke is my videographer and he is a genius. His regular gig is as a wedding videographer (he makes wedding videos look like high-budget movies), but I snapped him up to film all of my videos – the demonstrations, in-person interviews, and of course, the promo.

+ Yvette Luciano – Yvette is my new customer service virtual assistant, and she helps me answer all of the LTG related query emails.

You’ve interviewed plenty of influential souls both on your site and for the LTG. Can you give us a bit of an insight into how this usually plays out? 

I love doing interviews! It’s the best way to get quality information and advice, as well as make some great connections. I outlined my process for The LTG interviews up above, and it is pretty much the same for The Wellness Warrior ones. I just email them with an introduction about me and my story, my website stats, and tell them that I would be over the moon if they would chat with me.

Any tips for contacting and connecting with busy, important people? 

Make it super easy for them. Give them all of the information, including what you are interviewing them for, who you are, what your website stats are, and tell them that you just need them for 30 minutes max (less if they can’t do that) at a time that suits them. Work in with them and their schedule as much as you can.

What lessons have you learned along the way?

Ooh so many! The main ones are:

1 // Launches ALWAYS take more time and work than you first expect. If you choose a launch date, be willing to have this stretched to accommodate any unforseen bumps.

2 // Hire a VA. This will save so many headaches, and stop you from fighting with WordPress into the wee hours.

3 // Be assertive and stand up for yourself when working with creatives. It used to be really difficult for me to tell designer and other people I’m working with if I don’t like something. I don’t like conflict at all, so this lesson has kept coming up for me. It’s still a skill I’m working on, but I’m way better than I used to be.

4 // Breathe.

Pretty amazing, huh? I love how Jess has brought so much clarity to the product creation process – something that can definitely be overwhelming and confusing without a roadmap!

I’D LOVE TO KNOW: What did you learn from all this? Feeling inspired to create a product of your own? 

Other posts in the ‘Building a Blog You Love’ series:

Start with Heart
Design Essentials
Brands, PR’s + Making the Money

And don’t forget you can get instant access to Jess’ Lifestyle Transformation Guide by clickety-clicking here!

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10 Comments to “Building a Blog You Love: Creating a Remarkable Product”

  1. I have just done my second launch for a membership site for the company I work with and it was the best way to end the working year. They are such a massive project but the end result makes you realise that it is all worth the hard work in the end. I loved watching Jess launch her guide and the process she used to market and build her list. Well done Jess and great interview Rachel.

  2. This has been a very insightful read. Thanks for sharing. I am an LTG member and I love Jess’ work too. My blog is only one month old and this morning I was checking out my dismal Google Analytics stats and wondering how on Earth I was going to drive more traffic to my site. I now have a few ideas and a bit more clarity. Love your work xx

  3. Wow, this is such a comprehensive guide I love it. I love the tips of the beginning about how to create a loyal base. But also interesting to see behind the scenes of a program I love so much

  4. April: Jess is such a star, I also loved watching this come to life and the insight into all the work that went on “behind the scenes.” Making something look seamless often takes A LOT of work, as you’d know! Xx

    Melanie: It takes time lovely, just keep plugging away. Those first months are always slow, and then things start to shift. Just focus on providing brilliant content and watch it blossom from there. Xx

    Jia Ni: You’re the queen of creating awesome products! Xx

    Maddison: Glad you enjoyed this gorgeous. Is the LTG wonderful? Such a comprehensive, thoughtful program. A huge credit to Jess. xx

  5. This is great, girls! So many fab tips. I love that you allowed yourself to make changes to the pricing, Jessica. Even after launch. We are often hardest on ourselves and so allow yourself this space for movement and to get it right based on your instinct is so inspiring!

    Vari xx

  6. What a valuable + comprehensive + AWESOME post. Filled with wisdom + knowledge this will be unbelievably beneficial for my work in 2013.
    Thanks for sharing with as Rachel & Jess xx K

  7. Rach, this is amazing, thankyou so much for sharing such insight from two of the very most inspiring ladies I have met this year.
    I have a question for you: Do you recommend bringing out an ebook before an online workshop?
    I currently run a live workshop that I’m wanting to take to an online format. Would you recommend bringing out an ebook first?

    Thanks! x x x

  8. Hayley, so sorry for the late reply here! I don’t think one necessarily has to come before the other – it’s really up to you and what your “end result” looks like. I’m a huge eBook fan and think they are a brilliant offering to add to your product mix, but if you feel the workshop can be translated to an online format pretty quickly, then go for that — you can offer a short eBook as a bonus for course participants perhaps? xx

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