How to Create Information Products that Sell Like Hotcakes
January 29, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park
A few days ago, I wrote about the reasons why you need to sell information products. Selling info products is one of the most lucrative business models on the web and there are tons of opportunities whether you’re completely new or already have an established site. With proper planning and some hard work, you’ll be well on your way of finding a loyal audience and making a killing with your products. Are you ready to take your business to the next level?
In part 2 of this information products series, I want to go into the process of researching, planning, and creating an information product. You might understand all of the benefits of doing so but you may have a lot of doubts and questions as to how it’s actually done. Hopefully this guide will give you some good ideas and help you build the confidence you need to create a quality information product.
Researching & planning an info product
Find the best topic
First, you need to establish a specific topic or niche for your product. What do you know a lot about or have experience in? This will ultimately determine the quality of what you have to offer. If you already have an established business, or even a blog, it’s a good place to start. Leveraging your assets and your audience will enable you to get higher distribution of your information in a shorter period of time.
Find a general topic that you enjoy and would like to build a business around. It could be anything from dancing and fitness to fine dining and cooking.
Do a lot of research
Now that you have a general topic in mind, it’s time to research it as much as possible to look for big opportunities. See what type of content receives the most response on related blogs (better if you have your own), talk to potential customers on forums, discussion boards, and social media sites, hold surveys, and read books and magazines related to your topic. Obviously you want to play to your strengths but at the same time you want to create something that people will actually want and pay for. Strategically position yourself in an area where you have an advantage (e.g. insider info, expert status) or get involved in a field that doesn’t have much competition.
Research is extremely important when selling information. Invest a lot of time doing it early to prevent wasting even more time later on.
Identify your target audience
Realize that you can’t be everything to everyone. Even after you decide on a specific topic, you have to segment your potential audience. Do you go for the newbies or the seasoned pros? Young or old? For example, if you want to work in the fitness niche, there are tons of people under that umbrella with very different needs. There are mothers who want to lose weight, old people who want to stay fit, young men who want to look good for the ladies, professional bodybuilders, athletes in various sports, and more. It’s not enough to just decide on a topic. You have to identify your target audience and cater to their needs, both in the value you provide and in your marketing efforts.
Be super specific
Once you have a well-researched topic and a target audience, you have to come up with a specific product idea. Don’t be too general or else you’ll dilute your message and have a hard time gaining customers. Instead, be super specific. That way, your products will be more targeted and relevant with less competition. For example, rather than selling a vague “How to Lose Weight” guide, create something more targeted like “The Ultimate Guide to Rock Hard Abs for Beginning Bodybuilders”. In doing so, you carve out a specific sub-niche (abs) for your target audience (beginning bodybuilders).
9 Info product content ideas
There are a lot of different ways you can deliver information to your customers and the distribution tools available online make it extremely easy. If you’re stuck on the types of info you can offer, see the list below for some good ideas. Your goal is to provide as much value as possible. Just remember that the perception of value is highly subjective so keep your target audience in mind at all times.
1. Coaching programs
Believe it or not, the teacher is sometimes more important than the information itself. People want to learn from someone who has a likable personality and an engaging style. Why do you think TV watchers have their favorite news anchors when the news is always pretty much the same? If you start your own coaching program, you’re able to add your own stories and experiences and give the information your own personal flavor. That in itself will get you loyal fans and customers.
Example: Billy Blanks Tae-Bo fitness tapes
2. Beginner’s guides
What’s common knowledge to you may be Greek to someone else just getting started. Generally speaking, there are usually more beginners than experts so this is a big market no matter what niche you’re in.
Example: Intro to Bodybuilding for Beginners
3. How-to guides and videos
Everyone wants to learn how to do something as illustrated by the how-to videos hosted on sites like Experts Village and eHow. People will pay for access to more comprehensive and in-depth information as long as it provides them with the benefits that they’re looking for. In other words, as the saying goes, people want a hole in the wall not a drill. Don’t get caught up with the formats, just seek to provide real value in your content.
Example: Step-by-step how-to videos for bodybuilding exercises
Smart shoppers always want to spend their money on the best products and services for the lowest cost. In-depth reviews are high in demand because they fulfill this need. Review and analyze related products in your niche and sell the information to interested customers. A lot of the consumer magazines and books operate under this model.
Example: Reviews of exercise equipment and nutritional supplements
5. Expert interviews
If you don’t have the authority to teach or explain a topic, a good alternative is to gather the top people in your niche and conduct interviews with each of them. This way, you’ll provide a lot of well-rounded content to customers and benefit from the authority and expertise of others. Essentially you become an expert by association.
Example: Interviews with the top bodybuilders in America
6. Lists of resources
There is a ton of information out there on the Internet and it can get very overwhelming at times. In fact, people are willing to pay for the convenience of having everything they need neatly organized for them – even if everything is freely available online. The time saving factor is very valuable in this case. Compile a list of the best resources for your topic and sell it to people who are looking for the information. You’ll be surprised at the results.
Example: List of the best bodybuilding workout guides
7. Case studies & examples
Case studies are useful because they provide context to abstract ideas and theories. Learning from examples is one of the best ways to take in information and make it relevant to “real life”. Use interesting case studies whenever possible, either from your own experiences or from those of others in your industry.
Example: How I lost 30 pounds in 6 months
8. Insider information
If you’re in a position where you can attain insider information of some sort, leverage it to sell your product (as long as it’s legal). For example, Daehee Park of Penn State University won the Google Online Marketing Challenge and is now selling an e-book that shows you how to crack the competition. Similarly, Thor Schrock sold an e-book on how to get on the Top Affiliate Challenge reality show.
Example: How to win the Mr Universe bodybuilding competition
9. Timely news and alerts
Timely information can be extremely valuable in some industries, particularly in investing and gambling where timing is everything. For example, penny stock investor Timothy Sykes sells a product called TimAlerts where he sends out newsletters containing his stock picks in real time. The information is exclusive and valuable for only a short period of time so people are willing to pay for it to help them make more money.
E-books & reports
E-books in PDF format are extremely easy to create and distribute. As long as you have quality content, PDFs have a higher-perceived value than a blog article on a standard web page. However, the biggest weakness of an e-book or PDF report is that it’s limited to only text and images. You can’t take advantage of video or audio to relay information more effectively. Still, using e-books is a good way to deliver a lot of content in a complete, easy-to-read package.
A membership site is by far the most flexible information format because it allows you to foster a community on your site and deliver your content in a wide variety of ways including text, presentation slides, interactive software, video, and audio. You also get the benefit of a continuity model that pays you every month via membership fees. I’ve already talked about the huge benefits of continuity programs and why you should set one up. If you’re working with a topic where you can take advantage of various formats, go with the membership site model.
Print books and publications are still popular today because people want to take them around wherever they go without having to use a computer. However, printing and publishing requires a lot of money and time and is detrimental to people trying to sell online. The one benefit of publishing a book is that it gives you a boost in reputation and authority. Being able to say you wrote a book will get you speaking gigs and open up new opportunities.
DVDs & CDs
If you’re creating multimedia content via video and audio, you might want to ship out physical DVDs and CDs in addition to streaming the files online. People enjoy getting physical products in the mail and are more likely to use them if they have them at hand. It also gives people the option of using them away from the computer – on the TV or CD player.
Almost everyone on the Internet has an email account, which is why email marketing is by far the most effective. Take advantage of this by offering content via email newsletters. The one downside to this however is that your email may get lost in a sea of others. The perception of value is also lower because there is a ton of spam out there that people have to deal with on a daily basis.
Was this article helpful to you? I laid out the beginning steps of creating an information product along with some ideas for content types and formats. Hopefully this will get you started in the process so you can begin your jouney into info marketing. In the final post of this series, I’ll be going into the ways you can market your information products and achieve the most sales possible. Stay tuned.
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