Wouldn’t you love to have your very own product to sell?
More and more bloggers are looking to diversify their income streams, rather than having all their eggs in the AdSense basket. Others are just now discovering blogging, and they recognize right away that it is an ideal platform for information sales business models.
For my very first guest article here at Problogger, I’d like to share a few tips about utilizing a blog to both create and sell information products. While it’s possible to sell information products created by others through affiliate programs, I’d like to encourage you to consider creating something yourself, as it puts you in the absolute best position in the online sales world.
The good news is, if you already have a blog, but no product, you’re on the right track. And if you have neither a blog nor an information product in development yet, you will definitely want to consider starting to blog first. I’ll explain why below.
So, without further ado, here are 7 tips for creating and selling information products with blogs:
1. Blogging for Product Ideas
I believe it’s important that you have a great deal of either knowledge or passion about any topic that you develop into an information product. Knowledge makes it easier to create something valuable. However, if you lack knowledge, but have a great passion to learn about a certain subject, it can be even better. You’ll approach the topic with “new eyes” that allow for a fresh perspective and your enthusiasm will carry you through the learning curve.
Once you know the general topic, start blogging. You don’t necessarily need or even want to know exactly what your product will be, unless you already have an idea you think can’t miss. Even then, blogging allows you to have interaction with your readers that will give you valuable market insight. Comments and questions that you receive will be guideposts, and you can also survey your readers.
The secret to hitting a home run with an information product is to ask your readers what they want.
2. Blogging the Product
In the case of traditional books and e-books, there’s a trend gaining steam where you literally “blog the book.” Blogging on a regular, set schedule is a great motivator to actually get the writing done. It can also take you in new and better directions thanks to feedback, so that you actually get a better end result.
Some people react badly to this idea. Why would anyone buy something that you’ve essentially published for free online? Well, due to the reverse-chronological order of blog posts, it’s a really bad way to digest large chunks of information. Having the same information in book or even PDF format is much easier to deal with. Plus, your readership will be small at the beginning anyway, so by its very nature, your blog isn’t giving away the whole story.
The key is getting the book finished. There will be plenty more people to sell it to once it’s done, even if none of your current readers buy it (which is doubtful).
3. Blogging for Affiliate Relationships
One of the most important reasons to blog first is the relationships within your niche that you will develop. You should be producing content that gets you noticed, and networking with other blog owners that have complimentary audiences.
This can get you links, which leads to traffic, subscribers and eventual buyers. But the relationships you establish have much more value than that. Those key people can also become your affiliates, joint venture partners, and a source for crucial pre-launch feedback and testimonials.
Recruiting quality people to sell your product for you is harder than many people think. But it’s a whole lot easier when you have built up credibility with your blog, well before you start selling anything.
4. Excerpts That Sell
A tried and true method of enticing prospects to buy a book is to offer a couple of the initial chapters free of charge in PFD format, in exchange for an opt-in email address. You can deliver the chapters via email, which then allows you to follow up with reminders, special offers and promotions.
Excerpts work because generally the first chapter or so should naturally make a great selling tool for the rest of the book. Why? Because a well-structured e-book or report will first tell the reader what they are going to read before getting into the actual meat of the book. Great opening chapters that succinctly explain the subject can sell plenty of e-books when the excerpt tactic is used.
You can also tell and sell via a mini-course or tutorial that explains what the content is all about, as well as highlighting the benefits of having access to it. And remember, information products don’t have to be in written format. They can be audio recordings, teleseminars, screen capture and/or video presentations. Therefore, your complimentary tutorial should be in the same high-quality format that hints at what the learning experience will be like after purchase.
6. Sales Page
No matter what pre-selling technique you use, you’ll still need a sales page that entices people to click through and order. At a minimum, this page should have a great headline, restate the core benefits of your product to the prospect, and follow those up with the features that support your benefits. This can be a confusing distinction, so for more information, here’s an article I wrote about the difference between benefits and features.
The idea is for your blog, combined with your excerpt or tutorial, to have pre-sold the reader, so that they simply scan your sales page and scroll down to the order button. But it’s still important to have a substantive, low-hype sales page, with plenty of those testimonials that you acquired from key people in your niche and from select subscribers. A money back guarantee also helps boost sales immensely.
The sales page is there to remove any lingering doubts, and to make the transaction as risk-free as possible to the buyer.
7. Pay Per Click Marketing
Once you have all of the above in place, plus a shopping cart and product delivery mechanism, you can start looking at strategic return-on-investment (ROI) marketing. Now that you have something you can charge for, it opens up all sorts of traffic-generating avenues beyond blogging and affiliate relationships.
Now, instead of trying to make money with Google AdSense, you can switch to AdWords and target niche keywords that drive qualified prospect to your site. You may want to send them straight to a page that offers the excerpt or tutorial, rather than your sales page. Remember, it’s all about pre-selling. Make sure you offer a subscription to your blog as well, so you can build relationships with people who are not ready to buy.
The Best Business Ever?
There’s no better business in the world than being both the manufacturer and direct seller of your own high-margin product. Information products may be the best product of all, as it takes only your mind and your time to manufacture them, and some smart blogging to sell them. Blogging can help you identify and create a saleable product, and then help you sell the product by establishing affiliate relationships and acting as a platform that points prospects to your promotional tools.
Brian writes about blog, email and RSS marketing strategies at Copyblogger.