Package your smarts so you can make money in your sleep

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goldpanningThe words “passive revenue stream” have always been quite musical in my ears as I imagined the joy of getting my toes painted while knowing that hundreds of customers from all over the world were happily typing their credit card numbers to download electronic products from my website.

“Passive” may be a bit misleading, as there is very active work required to create and market an information product.  The key, however, is that once you have put the work into creating it, you can set up systems to sell it on your site which don’t require your effort or time.  Contrast this with a live workshop you may teach … even if you teach the same content over and over again, you are required to spend your time traveling to and from the workshop location and teaching the class.

What exactly is an information product?

Information products can include things like:

  • An electronic book or workbook, most commonly known as an “e-book”
  • An audio program available either as an Mp3 download or a CD set
  • A web-based training program which could include multiple media, including video, audio and written information

The main reason to create an info product is to package your acquired wisdom into a tangible product that does not require your physical presence to be useful.  This can supplement your income and greatly expand your potential market.

Some examples:

  • You are a financial planner and work with individuals in a 50-mile radius of your office.  You find that you go over the same financial planning framework with all new clients, and have started to create some worksheets to help people organize their finances so that they get a clear picture of where they stand.  You could create an information product that included an audio introduction for each step of the process, detailed worksheets, and an on-line budgeting calculator.  This tool would be useful to many, many people outside your geographic area.
  • You are a life coach and have a very unique way of walking clients through a visioning exercise using collages.  You conduct workshops using these techniques and meet with individual clients in your office.  You could create an information product that includes video of the collage making process, a list of tools and materials required, and templates to help people debrief their collage in writing.

Some of the information products that I have personally used and gotten a lot of value from include:

You’ll notice that most of these products come with very lengthy online sales
letters, which are the norm for many of the higher dollar information
products.  There has been a lot of research and study done about these
letters which point to high sales.  Some people find them overly long and detailed and filled with hype, but I think you can see some good examples here of where the value is clearly described, and the personality of the seller comes through.

My office partner in crime Suzanne, who I raved about in another post (if she ever decides to leave me, I will hold on to her feet and sob like a pathetic lover who has been dumped) just created an e-book called Organized for Success!  Get Organized and Stay Organized where she outlines some of the key strategies she uses as a professional organizer to get new home offices in shape.  She includes things like identifying your organizing style, managing your routine, and has a product guide where you can order nifty organizing tools online.

If you are interested in creating your own e-product, most experts suggest starting with researching the key needs and problems of your target audience.  If you have worked with clients for a long time already, this should be intuitive.  If not, you may want to spend some time visiting forums frequented by your target audience, reading magazines they subscribe to, and talking with them in person as much as you can.

And you don’t have to create a paid e-book … Seth Godin suggests giving one away for free to build buzz, much like he did with his “Unleashing the Ideavirus” book that he estimates has been downloaded on 2,000,000 computers.  Not bad for spreading the word about your expertise.

Which information products have you found to be really useful and worth your investment?  What ideas do you have for creating your own?

Filed Under: Managing your business

11 Responses to “Package your smarts so you can make money in your sleep”

  1. Jason Tan says:

    Great post about Passive Income. I’m into teaching ppl about financial literacy and how to generate income othet than getting a job. I have some related info this can speed up the process. Hope you’ll like it.

    I apply T. Harv Eker’s and Bob Proctor’s teaching.

    Jason Tan

  2. Site Review: Pamela Slim’s : Escape From Cubicle Nation

    Pamela Slim’s blog, Escape From Cubicle Nation , is subtitled “how to go from corporate prisoner to thriving

  3. pjmartin says:

    I provide my e-book Cappuccino U: A New Way of Learning and Working ( free. I’m delighted to have people send it (or the URL) to friends and colleagues.
    This small e-book has created a lot of buzz amongst bloggers and others who are interested in informal learning.
    I’m pleased that people are interested in my ideas – and I’m delighted with the contacts, consulting assignements and speaking engagements which have resulted from people reading the book.

  4. Matt Thomas says:

    If a person sells a e-book from their website, (let’s say it is an Adobe Acrobat document) how do they prevent their customers from buying 1 copy then e-mailing it to 50 friends?

  5. Doug says:

    Don Lancaster has been advocating passive income streams for a long time. IIRC, it was a big part of his “Incredible Secret Money Machine” book. He is still on the web at though it looks rather garish by current standards. Anyways, there is a lot of stuff there, some of which is pretty good. (As always, take what you like, leave the rest, applies here too)

  6. Make Mmoney says:

    This is a great post. There is so much passion in it. Thank you for inspiration!

  7. Loved this post! And I hope you’ll write more on passive income in future posts.

    Alicia Forest has a good info product entitled ” 21 Easy & Essential Steps to Online Success System” that I’ve found extremely useful, if you’re looking for a systematic process for building an internet-based business.


  8. Kathy Lund says:

    You rock girl!
    I like your attitude on diving into your dreams. There’s good and there is bad. But we have to remember that we don’t always have to be the victim. We’re out there to be on top in our own business! Heck, if I can do it, anyone can.

    It Can Be Done!

  9. Pamela Slim says:

    Thanks for the info on Pragmatic Programmers James … I was looking for a software-related example, but didn’t come up with one in time.

    And thanks for tuning in yesterday with Suzanne Robert! It was great hearing your voice before the call started. 🙂 Now get to work on your e-book, wouldya?

  10. robert says:

    Great content and really great advice and links and tips and …….. well, just good rock solid stuff that I need.

    Enjoyed the show with Suzanne up until I hit a telcoms glitch at about the 50 minute mark so looking forward to the podcast download.

  11. Check out the Pragmatic Programers. They’ve created a way for software developers to create small books that target a specific area and sell them online. These are not full length books, but advanced tutorials. I’m guessing that the authors are probably not make a large amount of money with them, but helps them to advance their skills and gain some notoriety.