The 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.
- 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:
- The Infoguru Marketing Manual, created by Robert Middleton at Action Plan Marketing.
- Build a Better Blog by Patsi Krakoff and Denise Wakeman of The Blog Squad.
- The Book Sistah’s 21 Step Guide to Writing, Publishing and Marketing a Book by my friend Sophronia Scott, aka The Book Sistah
- Pink Spoon Marketing by my brilliant coaching buddies Andrea Lee and Tina Forsyth
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?