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Freelance Writers: How to Create Information Products That Sell – Insight from My 10+ Years of Selling Info Online

This is a follow-up to the post, Freelance Writers: What It’s REALLY Like to Create and Sell Your Own Info Products Online – What I’ve Learned in 10+ Years.

Note: Read the other part of this series — Part III.

It seems that a lot of freelance writers are thinking of jumping on the information-selling bandwagon – and it couldn’t make me happier. After all, we make a lot of money for other people by writing their dreams into reality – whether it’s traffic-driving foundational content for their blogs, ebooks for their seminars, or a series of lead-generating emails for their newsletters.

So why not use your wordsmithing skills to put some extra cash in your pocket.

Once commenter (Nina) to last week’s post gave a series of tips that inspired this post. It got my brain to thinking of some other stuff I wanted to add. Let me give two disclaimers to this post up front:

(I) This info applies to non-fiction, how-to informational products (not fiction, for example); and

(II) There are a lot of intangibles that go into creating an info product that will sell well online. Here I’ll discuss eight, based on my own personal opinion and experience.

8 Questions to Ask – and Answer – before Creating an Info Product

With the above two disclaimers in mind, following is my insight.

1. Does This Information Solve a Specific Problem?

How to Create Information Products That SellThe reason this is important is, when web surfers go online, they’re primarily looking for information to help them solve a problem.

Many times, they have no intention of paying for the information because there’s so much that’s free online.

HOWEVER, if they feel that the information you’re selling goes over and beyond the general, free information they’re finding, you have a good shot of making a sale.

2. Is Your Info Product Based on First-Hand Experience?

Most people like to buy from authoritative sources, ie, someone who’s “been there and done that.” One of the reasons I’ve been so successful selling ebooks online is because almost all of my ebooks are written from first-hand experience. And this is something you can’t fake.

What You’re Really Selling Is NOT Information; You’re Selling You!

Purchasers of my ebooks can tell that I know my industry because I have a website that’s almost 15 years old; have written hundreds of articles in/on/about my niche (freelance writing); and can be found being discussed in/on industry forums and blogs all over the web.

In short, when you create info to sell, what you’re really selling is your skills, insights and experiences. And this is exactly why creating your own info products can be so lucrative – once people get to know and trust you, you can create a cottage industry of products to sell in your niche/specialty, which bring me to my next point.

3. Are You Creating Niche-Based Products?

The reason this is important is that most subjects are too broad to cover thoroughly. So, if you write in a defined niche — or even subset of a niche  — it makes it much easier to sell because you can solve specific problems that audience has.

For example, let’s say you’re a “health writer” and you want to create info products to sell in this niche. Just think how broad this is. But what if you specialized in creating info products on/about energy foods for women. You could write ebooks that cover:

Energy foods for women over 50
Energy food for women runners
Energy foods for pregnant women
Energy foods for obese women
Etc.

See what I mean?

People who are serious about buying tend to get very specific. So writing a general ebook on something just won’t cut it. But if you write to a clearly defined niche, it makes it much easier to not only reach this target market, but to capture them when you do reach them.

As a woman who runs marathons, I’m much more likely to purchase an information product with a title like Energy Foods for Women Runners than one with a generic title like Energy Foods for Your Health. Moving along, this brings me to the next point, which is …

4. Is Your Chosen Niche Large Enough to Sell to?

I don’t care how good your info product is, if there aren’t enough interested prospects to market to, you won’t make very many sales.

How to Find Out If You Have Enough Potential Customers for Your Info Product

So, how do you find out if there’s a large enough base of potential customers? Simple – keyword research. Google’s Keyword Planner Tool (aka keyword adword tool) makes this easy. FYI, you used to be able to use this tool without setting up an account, but now you have to set one up (don’t worry, it’s free).

Once you set up your account and log in, you’ll land on a page that looks like this:

Google's Keyword Planner Tool

Click on “Search for keyword and ad group ideas” (the highlighted circled text in the graphic above).

Type keywords into the box and start doing some assessing. FYI, here’s an excellent tutorial (pdf file) on how to do keyword research. If y

ou’re going to create info products to sell, learning how to do this is a must.

FYI, this tutorial uses Google’s old Keyword Adword Tool graphics, but the value of the info about the process assessing the keywords you find is the same. Learn more about the new features of the Keyword Planner Tool.

After you do your keyword research, you may discover that your chosen target market isn’t big enough to make many sales. And this is fine because it frees you up to move on to the next idea.

OR, you may discover during your keyword research that you need to approach the topic from a different angle because the research shows that you have a wide pool of prospects. This has happened to me on more than one occasion – and this is the value of doing keyword research – before you write a word!

5. Is Your Niche Broad Enough to Create a Cache of Products Around?

Piggybacking on the last point, one of the best ways to make money selling info products is to create more than one in your chosen niche.

Doing this will allow you to: (i) brand yourself as a specialist in that niche; (ii) cross-promote products; (iii) create different types of products in that niche (eg, ebooks and e-classes); and (iv) bundle products to sell. All of this leads to more sales.

For example, I’ve written a few ebooks on SEO writing (See the “SEO Writing Help” column on SeoWritingJobs.com). I bundle them in different ways to sell, have created an e-class and an on-site SEO writing class; and publish a blog about the subject, which further brands me as an SEO writing expert.

By creating a cache of products, you exponentially increase your bottom line because it gives potential customers the exact info they need based on their level of interest and expertise.

For example, complete newbies to SEO writing may need the in-depth info provided in the SEO writing class. Others may already have a good grip on what SEO writing entails, but they just need a brief overview and a marketing plan that tells them how to go about landing gigs. This is found in the $49.95 SEO writing ebook.

See what I mean? By creating different products in a niche that reaches potential customers “where they are,” you widen your pool of customers – which makes sales easier to come by.

6. Is Your Writing Up to Par?

This kinda goes without saying, but if you’re going to create information products to sell online, it’s getting harder to make sales if your writing isn’t up to snuff.

I remember when I first started selling info products online back in 2002. I was astounded at how poorly written some of it was. And, a lot of that still goes on today. But with the self-publishing craze in full bloom, and with so many info scammers on the net, buyers are becoming much more discerning about who they’ll purchase from.

You don’t have to be a Maya Angelou or John Steinbeck, but you should be able to write grammatically correct copy that presents ideas in a cohesive, easy-to-follow manner. If not, while you may hook a customer one time, you’d better bet they won’t be back. And as repeat customers are key to making money good money selling info products online, you don’t want this.

If writing isn’t a strong skill for you, seriously consider outsourcing it.

7. Are the Claims Made by Your Info Product Believable?

Making outrageous claims – even if they’re true (and most of the time they’re not, face it) – makes your info product seem like a scam.

And believe it or not, most people don’t want to “learn how to make $10,000 in one day!” – because most don’t believe that you can. What they believe is that you think they’re a sucker and are out to steal their hard-earned money. It makes them angry and suspicious – and angry, suspicious prospects don’t buy.

For example, the SEO writing ebook is officially titled, How to Make $250 Per Day — Or More — Writing Simple Web Articles & Blog Posts. Do you think I would have sold as many copies as I have if I’d entitled it, How to Make $1,000 Per Day — Or More — Writing Simple Web Articles & Blog Posts (even though it’s true, as the following testimonials highlight)?

Testimonial #1: Received on 6/27/13

Hope all is well with you. I saw your job posting and figured this was a good excuse to contact you to share some good news; I broke the $5k barrier for the week both last week and the week prior! Remember my client [I told you about before]? Well, they kind of dragged their feet with the big project ($24K total) for months, until it dawned on them that they had a “firm” deadline of June 30.

So suddenly I needed to produce 180 web pages over a 2 week period. Since I could not find another writer that met their standards of quality, I pretty much had to do them myself. My first reaction was to want to tell them to go…But I decided to just do it, and I did! After many days of starting at 5AM and ending at 11PM, I finished the last of the sites yesterday.

Testimonial #2: Received in April 2012

I can’t remember the last time I gave you an update.  But, since we last spoke, I had a $1,000 day; that was the most money I ever received in one day, that’s until I got another $1,730 delivered in my paypal in one day.  That was work I completed for one major client.

So even if your info product over performs, err on the side of keeping any claims you make believable because the over performers will likely be the exception rather than the norm – because most just won’t do the work that’s required to get optimal results. But if your product can deliver on what’s promised FOR MOST purchasers, then sales will be easier to come by.

FYI, be sure back up any claims you make with actual scenarios, testimonials and case studies. If you’re writing from first-hand experience, you will have more than enough knowledge to draw from to make your claims believable.

This is exactly why I like writing from first-hand experience – if you simply tell your story and how you went about helping others and solving problems that cropped up, that’s the making of a good info product.

8. Have You Done Your Pricing Research?

Pricing an info product is definitely an art – and it takes a lot of trial and error. I still tweak my prices; I probably always will. The best advice I can give here is to do your research, ie:

Tips on Pricing Your Info Product to Sell

(I) Compare apples to apples: This means try to find the same info products in your niche to see what they’re selling for. Only if you can’t find the exact type of info product should you compare related products.

Note: You might find your product in a different format, eg, a DVD version and you plan to do an ebook. Try to find the ebook version to see what it’s selling for. If you can’t, only then consider using the DVD version for price comparison purposes.

(II) Ask potential customers: Just outright ask them what they would pay, for example, for a 50-60 page ebook, written from first-hand experience, that told them how to do X.

(III) Assess the seller/product creator: Are they famous? Are they writing from first-hand experience? How does your experience/background compare to theirs?  All of this contributes to the perceived value of the product – and perception is reality when it comes to pricing folks, make no mistake about it.

Why Pricing Your Info Product Too Low Can Cost You Sales

You can price a product in such a manner that it has no perceived value – and not make very many sales. Then you can raise the price on that very same product and sales will increase exponentially.

I experienced this first-hand with the main SEO writing ebook (the one linked to above that now sells for $49.95). When I first published it, it sold for $9.95. It wasn’t until I quadrupled the price – raising it to $39.95 — that sales really shot up. Same ebook; different perceived value. And now at $49.95, it still sells very well; probably better than it did at $39.95 because so many more are becoming aware of SEO writing as a good freelance career option.

The point I want to make here is that being the cheapest is not always the best strategy. So again, do your research – and price accordingly. Then, be willing to test (it’s an ongoing thing) to see where you should settle your price.

FYI, here’s some great insight on how to price information products to sell. It talks about the dangers of only having one price, bundling products for sale, perceived value – and a whole bunch of other stuff you’d probably never think of. There are some real gems of advice found in the comments section.

Conclusion

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into creating info products that sell well online. The beauty of this type of online business though is that you only need a few winners to make a very good living. And with worldwide outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, it’s easier than ever to distribute them – and keep the majority of the money.

Next week, I’ll continue with this topic (this post got so long I had to split it) – we’ll discuss some free and low-cost ways to market your info product. Stay tuned!

Ready to enter the self-publishing / info products craze? See info below – and good luck.

Share Your Thoughts?

Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions about anything I’ve shared here? Sound off in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you.

ebook-publishing-pack

P.S.: Get 4 Ebooks for One Low Price — The Ultimate Self-Publishing Package!

P.P.S.: You can now order any of our products (like the SEO copywriting course) and take up to 6 months to pay with PayPal’s BillMeLater plan.

 

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    Comments

    1. Exciting! Once again Yuwanda, you’ve opened my eyes to something new! I never thought of e-books (in this context) quite as Informational Products. You’ve given me so many new ideas now on what I can write about as a non-fictional e-book writer.

      FYI: I uploaded my second e-book this week, thanks to you and your e-book tourney.

      In your review of my website you advised that I upload articles in the specific niche that I wanted to write in but, I couldn’t think of any niche that I was truly passionate about.

      Now, with this article and Chrislyn’s about “…choosing your SEO [writing] niche” by putting together a list and using a process of elimination to determine one’s niche, I am certain of at least one niche I can write in, in my sleep.

      Since I like versatility, and using Chrislyn’s listing system, I am going to find two more niches that I can also tout as my specialties. This is certainly going to help me with the production of informational products and setting up affiliate programs as you mentioned in your comment on her post.

      I now feel better equipped in re-launching my website and knowing my true purpose as a ‘sophomore freelancer’.

      Very helpful post once again!

      P.S. I’ll be updating you soon on the progress of my website re-launch.

      • Congrats on getting the second book done and uploaded Esayo. That’s fantastic! You seem more excited than ever about your career as a freelance writer; I’m so happy you’re “rejuvenated.”

        Chrislyn gave some amazing detail in her posts, which is why I told her she should turn it into an ebook; I hope she does.

        I look forward to hearing more about your progress. FYI, I’d like to do an “update post” when you’re all set up and ready to go because so many responded to (and could relate to) your website struggles and trying to find your path in the freelance writing waters. So again, do keep me in the loop, ok?

        Have a good weekend.

    2. Wow, great thoughts in that post Yuwanda! After I write this, I’m heading straight to search for your eBooks. lol I agree though that having an outrangeous title such as the making $1000 or $10000/day doing blah blah just makes me immediately move onto something else. You need a believable or hopeful claim in the title.
      Dan recently posted…Automatic vs Manual DMCA TakedownsMy Profile

    3. Yuwanda, great list of what to check for when creating an information product. Another element is the cover. It’s important to have a ‘grabbing’ cover and title.
      Karen Cioffi recently posted…Email Marketing – Gmail and Unsolicited Email SortingMy Profile