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The True Overhead Costs of Running A Digital Business (Are you making this mistake?)

The True Overhead Costs of Running A Digital Business 

As a service-based business owner, I know how much of an emotional roller coaster owning a small business can be. There are seasons of abundance, and then there are seasons where I feel no one will ever hire me again. It is honestly such a headache to face as a small business owner, and I knew within years of running my own service-based business that if I wanted to continue to run my business, I didn’t want to be on this emotional hamster wheel anymore. I had to add more income streams to keep my revenue consistent and keep me from throwing in the towel just because it was a slower season. In all honestly, I am a slow action-taker. It takes me so long to pick up speed and gain momentum, so if you think I will showcase a get-rich-real-quick scenario, you may want to leave this blog post. However, if you can focus on the overall goals of your business and cast a long-term vision for yourself, I will say this: yes, even though building out more streams of income DOES take time, it is well worth the foundational effort you will put in on the backend. This foundational effort in this scenario involves adding digital products to your service-based business. Instead of serving clients 1:1 (like you are used to), you may consider creating a product that serves one-to-many. So, if you are nodding your head while you are reading, then let’s start by talking about MONEY first. How much will adding digital products to your service-based business cost you? Click on the video below, where I am giving you an honest opinion of what to expect:

What costs to consider when adding digital products to your business

In service-based businesses, venturing into the digital product space can be a game-changer (like adding more income streams to your business, which is AWESOME!) However, the prospect of high overhead costs often deters many entrepreneurs. But before you start breaking out in a sweat, I wanted to invite you to this conversation, where I am unraveling strategies and tools to keep overhead costs low while growing in the online space! Does it take time? You bet it does. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it can happen immediately because there is always a catch (or they want you to join their million-dollar mastermind to tell you “the secret”). So, based on the video above, here are some costs to keep in mind (bullet points) (again, I want to encourage you to watch this specific YouTube video where I break all of these concepts down for free)!

Tip #1: Consider selling your digital product without being tied to a teaching platform. 

Hot take: you CAN sell digital products without the burden of investing in a teaching platform. PERIOD. I know I will get hateful messages from this, and I will have people reach out to me asking me then, “Why are your products on digital platforms, Dolly?” Well, I lead summits and bundles regularly every single year, and some of the teaching platforms have excellent affiliate programs that help me keep everything streamlined and organized for all of the contributors who are involved in my bundles (really, it’s the affiliate programs that keep me on the teaching platform)! However, if I were starting over and needed to keep my overhead low and lean, I would eliminate a teaching platform and deliver my digital products via my email marketing platform. I’ve been in courses (I have bought courses) where the course creator did this. I still experienced transformation in the course (I still learned a ton of information and gained so much value from this educator, even though they didn’t have a traditional learning platform and all their education was in email form)! But if you want a fantastic teaching platform experience and enjoy your products being housed on a great platform, I only have raving reviews about KAJABI. It is where my digital products live. My students have a great experience whenever they purchase a product from me (Kajabi makes the user experience super intuitive). To check out KAJABI, click here (note: it is my affiliate link)! Some creative ways to deliver your digital products: -Through your CRM platform like Dubsado -Through your Email Marketing Platform like Flodesk

Tip #2: Leverage Video Hosting Platforms Like Loom or Vimeo For A Seamless Experience

You will most likely want to create a video showing your new buyer how to use their new product (e-book, download, template, etc.). Instead of purchasing a teaching platform, you can easily create a screen recording of yourself using Loom or Vimeo. Suppose you are wondering how you will use the video. In that case, you can easily embed it in the delivery sequence in your email marketing platform OR even have a landing page on your website (exclusive URL that is not live on your website) that you can easily send over to the new buyer with the directions on how to use their new digital product from you! These platforms offer secure hosting and ensure the smooth delivery of video content! Also, let’s not forget that video is KING in the online space, so make sure you can add this personal touch to the delivery of your digital products (a small video of you goes a long way)!

Tip #3: Explore All-In-One Email Marketing Providers

Explore email marketing platforms like Flodesk, which have email marketing capabilities and cart checkout systems.  You can simplify your workflow using a single platform for email campaigns and transactional processes related to delivering your digital products. Again, using this link, you can get 50% off Flodesk (my affiliate link)! If you would like to read more about Flodesk, I wrote another blog post specifically about this fantastic email service provider, and you can read about it here:

Tip #4: Graphic Design Your Assets For Your Business On A Budget By Using Canva

Canva will be your go-to graphic design BFF and tool for creating stunning assets that align with your new digital products and can be used for your service-based business! In this case, I highly recommend you jump into the Canvas Pro plan, which is only $13 or less monthly. It is well worth the price, and if you are smart and savvy as a small business owner, you will quickly discover that Canva will be housing most of your graphic design assets (and media kit)!

Tip #5: Find an easy-to-use website platform where you can showcase your digital products

Now, I didn’t say this in the video. Still, this is optional, especially if you are beginning to own your digital product-based business (or incorporating it with your service-based business). If you already have a website, you can easily have another page dedicated to your digital products (aligning with your service-based business). But suppose you decide to offer digital products that have nothing to do with what you do as a service provider instead of confusing your current audience. In that case, you can either start from scratch with a website OR even design landing pages using Flodesk (to save overhead costs from having another website). So I believe that tip #5 is optional (is it helpful to showcase your products? Yes, but it is optional. Ensure you are not spending more than you are making when incorporating digital products into your service-based business).   If you were to go with a website to showcase your digital products, I highly recommend checking out Showit! (this is my affiliate link, but if you use it, you’ll get ONE month of Showit for FREE)!

 Tip #6: Don’t forget to fuel your online presence with Content Marketing

Utilize content marketing through blogging and YouTube to drive traffic. Yes, I said it…someone attacks me now! Now, I know that content marketing isn’t the shiniest or sexiest thing to talk about (especially for those business owners who want immediate return on investment and want everything to be handed to them overnight) (You bet you I’m being a bit sarcastic and sassy as I type this out! I am kind of, maybe, sort of, incredibly OVER the lazy business owner who wants everything to be handed to them on a silver platter, and they are shocked when they realize they have to put in WORK…shock gasp!!! How unbelievable????!!!) (yeah, I’m sarcastic). Creating valuable content attracts potential customers and establishes your authority over time. Yes, this takes time. But I believe that time will help you continue to hone in on your craft and see what works and what doesn’t. One of my favorite ways to put out content marketing is by creating YouTube videos (which, if you scroll above, you will see a corresponding YT video with this blog post!). I highly recommend you check out Stephanie Kase’s “YouTube For Business” Education because I learned my entire YouTube for Business strategy from her (this is my affiliate link)!

Tip #7: Invest in Zapier To Streamline Your Processes 

Zapier can integrate and automate various platforms for your digital products. In other words, if you use various tech tools to create your digital products and want them to “talk to each other,” Zapier will be your go-to tool for helping you systemize that process!

Tip #8: You may need to consider miscellaneous expenses while building out your digital products

Costs may affect the overhead of running your new online digital business. You may need to consider things like:

  • a new microphone if you decide to do content marketing with podcasting
  • a lighting system for your home office if you choose to do content marketing with YouTube
  • a terms and conditions contract or even a privacy policy contract to add to the footer of your Website if you deliver digital products
  • there are a myriad of miscellaneous expenses you may want to consider. 


In this video, I showcased how you can keep the costs of running your new digital business for under $3,000 a year. This is doable for a business owner with a successful service-based business because running this new income stream costs around $250 per month. Remember, I shared that running an online business takes money overall; I believe this is a relatively LOW cost to discover if you want to operate another income stream! In conclusion, navigating the digital product landscape need not be financially daunting. Implement these strategies and tools to keep overhead costs low and pave the way for a successful digital product business so you can step away from solely relying on ONLY your service-based business! I hope this was helpful! Finally, don’t forget that a good foundation for ANY business is growing your email list (because you cannot control the social media landscape and must always nurture your audience). So check out this FREE resource on how to grow your email list, starting from a list of ZERO! the_lead_magnet_master_idea_list

Meet Your Friendly Integrator + Systems & Workflow Educator For Small Business Owners

Dolly DeLong is a Nashville-based family photographer and a creative business owner who educates other creative business owners on systems, SOPs, and workflows.  Dolly loves serving families with her bold, elevated, and radiant photography.  She also loves educating other creative business owners on how to set up systems and workflows to help them save time in their business. She produces weekly blog posts, podcast episodes on The Systems & Workflow Magic Podcast, and weekly YouTube Episodes.  She has a heart for serving the larger business community. Dolly shares her knowledge of tools like Dubsado, Email Marketing, and Business Systems with new creative business owners & family photographers in an encouraging and supportive way because she believes that anyone can find joy in systems, workflows, and SOPS! Plus, BONUS: Systems is where the MAGIC happens! You CAN streamline & automate the backend of your creative business with ease! Dolly’s faith and love for her family motivate her to help other business owners find the joy and freedom she’s seen in running a successful small business. Whenever she has a spare moment, she enjoys watching TV (i.e., Survivor), loves eating way too many sweets, and listens to podcasts while running or walking. To work with Dolly DeLong, fill out her contact form.

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