If you REALLY want to make more money online you should strongly consider producing and selling your own product. I am not talking about manufacturing a product (i.e. a computer, TV, Slap Chop) or reselling someone else’s product… those cost a lot of money to produce and/or the profit margins are too slim. I am talking about making "information products" that cost close to nothing and are sold at prices that allow you to make huge profits.
What I mean by "Information Products"
Information products teach people how to do something or solve a problem. They contain information that people are looking for and find valuable. Of course there is all sorts of free information on the Internet but people are willing to pay for GOOD information that is well organized and from a source that they deem a trusted authority. Information products can be produced in many formats, including eBooks, online videos, DVD courses, online sites and more.
Picking your Niche Product
My niche is computer training. Train Signal creates "information products"(video training on DVDs) for IT professionals who are hungry to learn. We sell a lot of products because IT pros want this information, it is valuable and we are a trusted source.
The beauty of this is that the information product model applies to just about any niche! I have been preaching this model to my family and friends for years, because you can create video training on all sorts of topics, including things like quilting, how to train a dog, building a vintage car, mountain hiking, how to use a Blackberry…anything! What are you passionate about? What do you know a little bit about that others might find useful? Start brainstorming from there.
And please don’t start whining about how you don’t know anything that would be useful to others. Bullshit. Unless you are dead, you have some knowledge that others would find useful…I guarantee it. You don’t need to be an expert. You just need to be able to put together GOOD information that people are looking for.
Want an example? I don’t know anything about Blackberry phones… how the OS works, the features, network integration, synching, etc. But, I guarantee you that I could study the Blackberry inside out, look for common problems in forums, read information on different websites and in a month be ready to create kick ass videos that people would buy. I would solve their problems and make it easy for them to learn. Money can be made from this, I guarantee it. Same thing with the quilting idea or all sorts of other ideas. Find your niche and take action.
3 Reasons Why I Love Selling Information Products
1. High Profit Margins
I mentioned this above, but let’s talk details. At Train Signal, we produce high end video courses. The image above is one of our best selling information products. If you buy this product from us you get a professionally created course consisting of a DVD case, DVD cover, DVDs and all of the digital content. This course costs us about $5 in materials and we sell it for $397. You do the math.
To be fair, we DO have substantial operating costs with 20 employees and a slew of independent contractors, so we are spending a lot of money just to keep the doors open. This isn’t a bad thing though, as we are able to leverage our time and create a lot more products at any given time. It just makes things a whole heck of a lot more complex!
Keep in mind, when I started the business it was just me. I knew nothing about business. I researched the topics, recorded the videos, edited the videos, posted them on the website, etc. I busted my ass to make things work. Starting off, your biggest investment should also be your time. I never said this was easy.
Most sites with information products have even higher profit margins than we do. Videos, ebooks, tool sets and other online products have NO material costs. You do have to pay for hosting and bandwidth but these are very scalable and cost effective…you will pay next to nothing to get started.
Examples? Take a look around, ShoeMoney’s Tools, SEOBook and Teaching Sells each do it a little bit differently but all are taking advantage of the information product model. I read a case study that Brian Clark of Teaching Sells wrote recently, talking about how Aaron Wall turned his SEOBook site into a subscription service that charges $100/month with 500+ subscribers. He is grossing $50K/month with sick profit margins. He also just switched to this model, so it is very realistic that he could get his subscriber base much higher. Nice.
Lastly, don’t forget what I said before, the product model works for all different niches. Get out of your Internet marketing mindset and potentially look for a niche that you can exploit… outside of the Internet marketing space.
2. Repeat Business
Having one product is a great start. But once sales start flowing in, wouldn’t it be nice to have another product to sell to your happy customers? This is where you start to get ridiculous growth. For example, I know nothing about quilting but I am guessing that there are a ton of different sub-topics within quilting that you can create new courses on.
Think about it. I create my first "How to get started in quilting" course and sales start to come in on a regular basis. When I create my second more specialized course, "How to sew big red buttons on your fancy quilt", I can sell this to all of my happy customers who ordered previously AND I can sell it to new customers who have an interest in just this specialty. The more courses you have, the more products you sell. Your growth is exponential.
The subscription model can be even more powerful! Instead of selling individual quilting courses you are now selling a quilting learning community. You create quilting videos on a regular basis, post patterns, pictures of quilts, start a forum, etc. Now you are charging people a monthly recurring fee. Your mission is to keep your customers happy by creating content and adding value to ensure that you are always gaining more subscribers than you are losing.
3. Build Business Value
There are lots of ways to make money on the Internet…affiliate marketing, SEO, PPC, advertisers, etc., but in a lot of cases no long term business value is created. For example, you can make a lot of money as an affiliate but when you decide to quit being an affiliate marketer your cash intake stops, and in most cases your business has little or no value to someone else.
In Train Signal’s case (and in the other examples as well) business value is built by creating products, attaining customers, garnering leads and building a recognized, quality brand. So beyond the crazy money you can make just selling your products, if/when you sell your business, you are in line for a significant payday on the backend. For me, that is the icing on the cake.
Where do you go from here?
Take action. Your first step is to identify your goal. For most of you it is going to be money related, "I want to make $100K/year" or something similar. This number is important. For some people they truly might not be happy making a $100K and their goal is $1M/year. This will help you to determine a niche. For example, I know that quilting products could be a $100K/year niche but I am not sure if it can be grown to $1M/year. You need to evaluate your niche and have realistic expectations.
Next, you need to start thinking about several possible niches and formulate a very basic business plan. I am talking basic to get started, like jotting down some ideas for product/content, prices you might charge, number of products you would sell (or subscribers needed), etc. Focus on taking small steps forward and build on your momentum.
After you have some basic ideas in your head, it is time for you to start learning how to make a good information product. I recommend that you check out TeachingSells.com by Brian Clark. Teaching Sells is a subscription site that teaches you how to build your own information product/site. It is very well done and will save you a lot of time, money and headaches.
You probably know who Brian is, but if you don’t, get familiar with him. I met Brian at Elite Retreat last year and have been a reader of CopyBlogger for a few years. Brian’s stuff is dead on; you can’t find a better person to mentor you. Read/Watch his stuff, follow his advice and work your ass off…you will reap huge rewards.
I have given you some reasons that the information product model is solid, now it is up to you to take the next step. Take action. Take small steps and get your momentum moving forward. I will answer your questions and help out with ideas, just post below in the comments.