Have you ever thought about creating an information product of your own? Many web designers and web developers are already making thousands of dollars online by turning their existing knowledge into products and selling them. Why not you?
1. Pick a problem to solve
Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Neil Patel (and yes, I know that I use this excerpt in every other article, but it’s just that good!):
Agota: What are the most important things that people who want to start an online business should be aware of?
Neil: The number one thing that you should be aware of is this:
Don’t create an idea that you just want to create, create a business that solves a unique problem that people are facing right now and they’re willing to pay to solve it.
This is the number one thing that you should be aware of, because if you’re not able to do that, you won’t be able to create a business that’s doing well.
Most people make a mistake of coming up with a “cool idea” and falling in love with it. The problem here is that customers don’t pay you for your “cool ideas”, they pay you to solve their problems, therefore if you want to actually make money with your product, look for a problem to solve. How can you leverage your existing skills in order to provide a solution to a problem that people are experiencing right now?
2. Pick the right format for your product
There are quite a few ways you could go about building your product: you could write an e-book, record an audio book, create a video course, etc. How do you choose the right format for your product?
Here are some things that you should consider:
- How well the format serves the purpose of offering a solution to a particular problem. Different topics require different mediums, for example, text tutorials work well for coding, whereas video tutorials work well for web design topics. Think about it from a customer’s perspective: if you were looking for a product on this particular topic, which format would you prefer, and why?
- How comfortable you are with different formats. You might be really good at writing, but terrible in front of the camera, or vice versa. It’s important to consider your personal strengths and weaknesses, because if you use a format you are struggling with, the shortcomings of your presentation will overshadow the quality of the information you offer.
- How much time and energy you are willing to invest in this particular product. You might be able to write a short e-book on the topic in few weeks, meanwhile an in-depth video course might take a few months to prepare, therefore you should know how much time and energy you are willing to invest in this project. Try to be as realistic as possible, because it’s better to build a small product and sell a few copies, than to try to build a massive product and never finish it.
Keep in mind that choosing a wrong format for the product might heavily impact sales and customer satisfaction. For example, people who want to learn how to do a backflip are much more likely to buy a video course than an e-book, because the subject can be much better explained in a video guide than in a written tutorial. It’s wise to take some time to consider different options.
3. Validate your idea.
Here’s a splash of cold harsh reality: no matter what you do, your product might fall flat, and you might end up having wasted a lot of time and energy creating something that nobody wants to buy. Even companies like Microsoft, Google or Apple have released products that flopped. It’s insane to think that you are immune to creating a product that ends up being a total failure. There are some things that you can do in order to minimize that risk, though. Validating your idea is number one of them.
Here’s a simple way to validate your product idea:
Create a landing page for your upcoming product. You should describe your upcoming product, offer an opt-in incentive, and ask people who want to be notified when the product comes out to subscribe to your e-mail list.
Drive traffic to that landing page via guest posting. Publish 3-5 guest posts on big blogs in relevant niches (add a link to your landing page in your by-line).
- Evaluate the results: how many people have subscribed to your e-mail list? 100-200 subscribers indicate that there’s at least some interest in your upcoming product. However, if you only got 5 people to subscribe, that means that there’s probably not enough interest in the product to justify creating it.
Most people skip this step, build a product, and then wonder why nobody wants to buy it. Don’t make the same mistake: always validate your ideas before you invest time, energy and money into implementing them.
4. Outline the product
You need to outline your product before you start building it. Otherwise, it might end up being incoherent and hard to follow. Also, having a plan helps you to follow through, because it’s much easier to abandon a project that is not outlined.
Here are a couple of tips for making the outline:
- Imagine yourself in your customer’s shoes. Take some time to understand the perspective of a person who has a problem that your product is aiming to solve. What would be important to you if you would be facing the same challenge?
- Write down all the ideas that you want to share in your product. Spend some time brainstorming. Then, once you have enough ideas, write them all down. Don’t censor yourself, the point is to write down as many things as possible, so you could arrange it later.
- Turn your ideas into a coherent outline.Spend some time playing with the ideas that you have, arranging and rearranging them, until you have an outline that looks like a logical progression from one thing to another. Again, try to see it from a perspective of a person who has a problem that your product is trying to solve. Would this outline make sense to them?
It might be tempting to get started with product creation straight away, but believe, you’ll be much better off in the long run if you think things through.
5. Create the actual product.
Well, this part is rather straightforward, isn’t it?
Here are a few tips, though:
- Make time for this project. People often overestimate their ability to follow through with big projects. You have to schedule time for creating your product, otherwise it’s very likely that you will never get around to it, or it will take much longer to complete than you though.
- Don’t mix creating and editing. The most common reason why people experience creative blocks is that they feel the need to create content and edit that content at the same time. It’s much better to separate the two, because you can either be in one mode or the other, and if you mix them, you end up doing a crappy job at both. It often takes less time to create a lot of mediocre content and then edit it until it becomes good than to try to create a masterpiece straight away.
- Don’t be a perfectionist. You have to accept that it’s impossible to make a product for which there isn’t any space for improvement. There will be always something that you will want to cut, add, or change. However,you shouldn’t aim to make your product perfect, you should aim to make it good enough, so you could ship it.
Remember, the most important thing is to create something, you can tweak it as you go along.
Just do it (and don’t get your hopes too high)!
I’m not going to sugarcoat the reality: it’s very likely that your first product will fall flat. That’s why I suggest you to look at it as a way to learn more about online business and not as the project of your life. This way, it doesn’t matter if you end up getting 3 sales, what matters is that you will have learned something, and, hopefully, you’ll do better with your next product. Now, g o create something.