An informational product can be a digital book (or e-book), a digital report, a white paper, a piece of software, audio or video files, a website, an e-zine or a newsletter.
Any product that's informational, instructional or educational in nature can be considered an info product. If you missed last month's column, you should read it first so you have a thorough understanding of what we'll be discussing this month, which is how to create your own info product.
As covered in detail last month, here are a few of the reasons why information is the best product to sell online:
- It's fast to create and fast to market.
- There's no inventory to stock.
- The startup costs are low.
- You can automate the sales and delivery process.
- There are no shipping and handling charges.
One of the best things about information products is that you don't need a product designer or a manufacturing plant to crank out the goods. You also don't have to spend months and months doing product development.
If you have a computer and a word-processing program, you have everything you need to create a bestselling info product in a very short amount of time. "Great," you say, "but I'm no writer. How the heck can I get into the information business?" The good news is you don't have to be a great writer to create a great info product. If you don't have the ability to create the product yourself, there are several avenues you can take to info product success:
1. Co-author with a writer. In my opinion, expert knowledge is much harder to come by than great writing skills. If you're an expert on a subject that people will pay to learn about, you just need a good writer to put your expert knowledge into a saleable form.
I know many experts who can't write their names in the snow and many excellent writers who don't have the expert knowledge required to create an informational product. Co-authoring can be a match made in heaven if an equitable co-authoring arrangement can be made. Co-authoring means you both get credit for creating the product and share the revenues.
If you're an expert on a topic, but not a writer, find a writer to co-author the project with you. Conversely, if you're a writer without specific knowledge, find an expert and partner with that person to create the product.
2. Hire a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter is someone who will anonymously write the e-book for you, with the writing credits going solely to you. You supply the expertise and guidance, and the ghostwriter puts it in a readable format. You can hire ghostwriters on an hourly basis or for a flat fee, depending on the scope of the project.
There is no shame in using a ghostwriter to put your thoughts to digital paper. You don't really think all those pro athletes and Hollywood actresses can write 300-page books now, do you?
3. Publish a directory. Can't think of a subject that you're qualified to write about? Try compiling a directory. A directory is nothing more than a listing of specialized information targeted to a particular segment of the buying public. For example, my company publishes a drop-ship and wholesale industry directory that lists company names, addresses, phone numbers and website addresses. I simply have someone research the industry, and then I compile the findings in a directory format, package it nicely and sell it online for $27.
4. Sign on with an affiliate program and sell its info products. Thousands of companies sell informational products, and most have affiliate programs that you can join. Becoming an affiliate basically means you become a reseller of the company's products. You promote the product and make the sale, the company delivers the product, and you earn a commission.
The key to creating a successful info product is this: The information must be worth far more than the price of the e-book itself. If you're charging $27 for your product, it must give the buyer many times that price in perceived value.
I asked info product expert Jim Edwards, co-author of How to Write and Publish Your Own eBook...in as Little as 7 Days, for his advice on how to create a killer info product. Here are his top five tips:
- Niche it. Make sure you're targeting a highly defined niche audience-don't try to sell to everyone. You can get a lot more money showing life insurance agents how to get more customers to buy $250,000 policies than you can trying to sell a product on generic sales skills improvement.
- Solve a problem. Make sure your info product hits a problem that members of your target audience will do just about anything to solve. The more intense the problem, the more likely they'll pay to solve it.
- Give them a taste. Give people a taste of what you offer in your info-product by providing a sample. Just as the wholesale clubs get you to buy tater-tots in a 50-pound bag by giving you one to try, you can induce people to buy your information by letting them read the first chapter or listen to the first few minutes of an audio file.
- Entertain them. People hate to be bored. Increase the power of your product by adding humor, drama and other entertainment elements that make them want more. Doing this will not only help with future sales to satisfied customers, but will also keep your refunds down and increase word-of-mouth advertising.
- Keep it evergreen. Don't make the mistake of creating a product that hits a fad or a fleeting market. Create info products that can be updated with very little effort. This allows you to create a product once and keep the sales rolling in for literally years to come!
Tim W. Knox is the founder and CEO of three successful technology companies: B2Secure Inc., a Web-based hiring management software company; Digital Graphiti Inc., a software development company; and DropshipWholesale.net, an online organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs launch and prosper from their eBay or online sales business.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.