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How to Sell Information Products

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.

5. Tutorials

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.

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Comments

  1. Jacob says:

    Good advice, too many people’s sites are too dependent on Adsense(including my own)

  2. e2 says:

    Thanks for the great advice. I’ve given some thought in the past about #2, but have yet to take it any further.

  3. Spot on, Brian. You just netted yourself a new RSS subscriber to copyblogger.

  4. chartreuse says:

    Good info.
    I might sign up for your rss feed as well. :)

  5. Brian says:

    Hey everyone, thanks for the ncie comments, and Blaine, thanks for the sub!

    Chartreuse, you old rascal… you’ve tracked me down even over here. :)

  6. John Hood says:

    Great advice. I’ve started adding content (in the form of PDFs) and may just start to write about the Star Wars prequels – in more depth with the intention of approaching publishers. Thanks.

  7. Lester says:

    I’ve created digital products and post them in my theme blog below:

    Printable Planner Pages
    http://www.PrintPlanners.net

    I tried selling these pages before through BitPass.com (because I can charge in cents) but it just didn’t fly.

    I also tried putting a donation button but no one donated.

    So, I just give them for free and earn from Google Adsense and what else?

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks…

    But, I’ve a new blog now (www.AFreeLife.info) and looking forward to becoming an inspirational self-help digital writer and make a living out of my new career.

  8. Jason Click says:

    Brian,
    Very good piece. I signed up for your blog 3-4 days ago. I can’t remember how I found out about it but have been reading it since. I’ll be adding this article to my favorites. Thanks again.

  9. zamri says:

    I agree with jacob. Even my blog also rely too much on adsense. I’m still cannot write my own paragraph. Even short paragraph take time to produce it. May be i need some advise from Darren what type of blogger that i need to produce where its no need to write so many paragraph.

  10. Ohad says:

    Hi,
    I am just starting my own blog to deal with new sites and internet related technologies. Your blog seems to contain a lot of valuable knowledge for newbie bloggers (like me) who wish to pursue the blogging business seriously.

    Thanks for all the good tips

    Ohad

  11. I agreed that one should not depend on one source for making money. It is better to diversified so that when one is down, at least another source of income is coming from the others….

  12. zamri says:

    that’s correct. But the problem is how you want to maintain it if yu have more then 5 blogs. If you have 2 or 3 blogs maybe it can be solve.

  13. Black says:

    People become so dependent on Adsense because Google have made it so easy to implement on your site and so quickly. A diversified business requires hard solid work – most people generally default to the easiest option.

  14. Tom McKay says:

    Creating a solid information product to sell is a wise course to follow, for all the reasons cited above. But actually writing it can be brutal, frankly. Writing is the hardest work I’ve ever done, and I’ve made my living at it for the past 20 years.

    To help you with your writing, I created a series of writing tips at my Attract More Customers blog, which will help you organize and express your ideas more easily and quickly.

    http://www.mainecreative.com/2006/03/write-what-you-mean-to-get-what-you.html

    Check it out – it might make your next writing project easier.

  15. Brian Clark says:

    I have to agree with Black and Tom — creating info products takes work. Writing is hard, but if you find that too difficult, think about teleseminars or video products. Find someone to interview or discuss a topic with. You need to be meaningful and provide good, organized information, but you’re really just talking!

    It will take hard work no matter what. But the beauty is that one product can sell over and over for years. It’s much more passive, and you’re not depending on Google for all your income.

    Thanks for all the great comments!

    Brian

  16. Martin says:

    Brain … a topic close to my heart. Well done on writing such a post with clarity – you must be a copywriter or something ;-)

    Your last comment “the beauty is that one product can sell over and over for years. It’s much more passive” is clasic long tail theory.

    With some of my eProducts I’ve seen the inital buzz of 50-200 sales and then 1-5 sales a month for many, many months – that’s where the passive sales come in: a long time after the initial release. That’s when all the SEO (especially the organically bulit up backlinks from your blogs and other sources) you’ve done for the sales page(s) kicks into gear and settles into Google.

    And YES, it’s damn hard work researching, writing and packaging it – but when you do get it right, you just know.

    ‘Blogging the Book’ – that sounds like an interesting concept – that’s going on my “To Do List” :-)

  17. Brian Clark says:

    Hey Martin, good to see you around. When is E-Publishing Daily coming back? Anyone interested in this topic should read Martin’s blog when he comes back from his consulting project.

    http://www.epublishingdaily.com/

  18. Martin says:

    Thanks Brian,

    Ah, ePubDaily – I have slotted June 1 for its return. On my free time I’m lurking forums and blogs galore and getting a real insight on where ePubDaily should go. I think you’ll like it.

    btw, you know you’re on my list as an email interview subject re: your Viral Copy eBook? Expect an email around that time. :-)

  19. kris says:

    I think Adsense can only work if you have a blog that is very niche and zones in onto one topic (and it happens to be one of those that generates a higher CPC value -type ad). I’m all over the place so alternatives are always a good thing. :)

  20. Lesley says:

    A question about e-books: I have written a few for my blog (walking tours and itineraries to be exact), and we are in the process of getting them ready to download and purchase.

    How do I package them? So they read like an actual book, or is a 8.5 x 11 paper format ok? That’s our next step and we are a bit stumped.

    Lesley

  21. Brian Clark says:

    Lesley, most people seem to simply leave the book in 8.5 x 11 format. Although I have seen a very few people use different formatting, I don’t think it is expected or required in order to have a succesful product.

  22. Martin says:

    Lesley … yep, my reseacrh shows that most people go for the 8.5×11” format when packaging a book.

    I think it all comes down to making people feel comfortable with eBooks – ie: trying to replicate a traditional book as much as possible. Why else have a virtual book cover when there is no physical book?

    I think as time goes on we’ll be seeing more experimentation.

  23. Graydon says:

    Re: Lester – BitPass… not flying…

    I was taking a look at BitPass as well… Looks to be a good service, but when I dug into what a buyer sees when they try to buy, I can see why some / many never complete the purchase.

    I even covered it recently…
    http://marlincreek.com/content/view/60/1/

    __________

    Great post overall… some useful information to leverage at my own site.

  24. kaY says:

    It seems that a lot of blogger’s income largely comes from adsense.

    With the trend that everyone is shifting towards RSS feeds, will the adsense being ignored? or shall blogger switch thier site feed from full publishing to excerpt.

  25. Valeriu says:

    It seems that most people forget one BASIC rule: AdSense it’s just an ADDITIONAL way of making more money.

    The REAL money, the real businesses, are on the other sides and consists of other different things like having your own product/s, service/s, etcetera.

    Valeriu

  26. Don says:

    PayPal has a micropay plan that few people are familiar with. I use it and it is really great. The rates are lowered to 5% of the sale + a nickle (U.S) and there is a $12 limit on each transaction.

    This boils down to just a dime for the transaction fee on 1 U.S. dollar.

    PayPal has not publicized this at all. I found it by chance. When I signed up there was only one way to do it, through the PayPal Integration Center, micropayments page. If you don’t use the link on that page to open your account, you don’t get the micropayment fees.

    Basically, you open the account using the link and that gets you the special micropayment rate. They don’t give you any confirmation as such and you don’t get anything out of “customer no service” if you call them. I just had my wife send me a payment of a dollar and confirmed that a dime was all they took of it. That’s how I determined the account had the micropayment fees attached to it.

    But, it does work and it’s really great because you can utilize all the developer thingies PayPal has for your blog shopping cart etc. Plus, your customer can pay with a credit card without being a PayPal member.

    check it out…it’s worth a look.

    Here is the link to their micropayments page.
    https://www.paypal.com/IntegrationCenter/ic_micropayments.html

  27. Rafic says:

    These are great tips. Is there a way to possibly print-out all these wonderful tips at once without going through page-by-page? Do you plan to publish your own e-book that includes these tips? Great Job!

  28. Chris says:

    I agree… these are great tips.! Can anyone point me to some resources that detail how to sell information my products (ebooks) using blogs? I need information outlining how to automate the download and payment processes of the products, and if I need to develop a separate website of my own to do this. Thanks for your help. I’ll be signing up for your rss feed in just a minute.

  29. Great Article. Really Enjoyed! Keep up the good work.

  30. Karen says:

    I would like to share with you the website I have designed. It is a 3D Virtual Mall that allows business owners and shoppers a place to meet. My purpose for creating this mall is to bring everything retail together in one location, including small businesses that require a cost efficient method of marketing their products online. A cost of $20.00 per month includes but is not limited to; a storefront with sign & graphics upload capabilities, the shopping cart template wizard (allows for mall based web page developement) and private accounting features with stats. everything you need to successfully sell your products in the mall. No hidden fees. Please check it out : http://www.uwalkthemall.com Tasteful criticism welcome.

  31. Ariel Zriel says:

    Dear Brian,

    From a customer point of view, I have tried many sites to get content written and link back to my site http://www.directsaleschat.co.uk but it does not seem to help in more sales? If it worth highering a blogger to consitantly add more content related to my site “Mobile Phone Memory” or keep having bloggs writen that link into my site?

    My competion is BIG companies with lots of funding, with my little company how to I compete with getting links, blogs, articles written to get more traffic?

    Best regards,

    Ariel

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  2. [...] I read an article over at problogger.net called “How to Sell Information Products“. This article, written by Brian from CopyBlogger.com goes through 7 steps to come up with an information product to selling that information products. Go over and read it to get the full effect. I’ll be adding this to my “Favorite Articles”.Technorati Tags: entrepreneur, infopreneur, monetize, blogging [...]

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