by Cara Lumen
There are many reasons to create information products – to teach, to inspire, to attract, to build your expert status, to earn money – but regardless of the reason, there are a series of steps to move through that will help you organize your thoughts and your ideas so your information product attracts the people you wish to serve.
1 – Who is your target community?
You know the saying, if you don’t know where you are going you’ll probably end up someplace else. Knowing who you are writing for is vital to any information product. It influences the vocabulary you use, the tone, and the content. Are you writing to beginners? People with advanced knowledge? What age? What culture? As people in business we spend a lot of time defining our niche – that small community of people that we are meant to serve – who need us, who inspire us and who we are drawn to serve. Be clear about who you serve.
2 – What do they need from you?
What you offer is going to depend on where your passion lies and how that fits into the needs of your chosen community. You’ll hear it both ways – find what they need and give it to them or find your passion and then see who needs it. My version is a little of both. Start with your passion and your skill set. If you’re a writer – write, if you’re a speaker – speak. If you’re a teacher – teach. What are you willing to do? What are you not willing to do? I might say I would love to sit here and write all day but without creating some interaction in the form of courses or talks or workshops, I’m writing in a void. I have to have some interaction with my chosen community so I can stay tuned to what they need from me. Once you are clear about what you want to offer, then carefully study the needs of your chosen community and see what you can provide for them that will make a difference in their lives or their business.
3 – What is the purpose of this particular information product?
A product cycle is like a merry-go-round, it contains various price ranges of products so that the visitor to your site can begin to connect with you for free, for under $100, for under $250, etc. You’ll want to have products and services in all those prices ranges. All products are meant to deepen your connection with your chosen community.
Every product you create should be designed to:
1. Attract your chosen community
2. Provide them with recognizable value
3. Show them you can produce results
4. Encourage them to connect with you
The first information product to produce should be free. That’s usually your opt in offer – the offer you make on your blog or web site that offers them a free product or service just for joining your community and allowing you to continue to communicate with them. This permission to connect is vital to every business and adding people to your connected community is core to growing your business. These are the people with whom you develop trust; they are the ones who are the first to know of a new product or service. These are people who are interested in what you say and think and do.
4 – What do you want to teach, tell, or show them?
First set some boundaries. Let’s say you are going to write a 30 page ebook for a free opt in offer. What can you create that 1) will attract people to sign up for it because they need/want it and 2) will deliver tangible results so people know you can deliver?
For an opt in offer it can be as simple as a “How to” list, or a quiz, or a series of steps that produce a particular result. One of the challenges of writing any information product – ebook, teleclass, talk, home study course – is to keep the content simple and relevant. Are the readers beginners? What do they need to know first? In a 50 minute talk you may make only three major points. In a 30 page ebook you may have a list of 6-10 steps with an explanation and exercise for accomplishing each step. And yes, you can go make future signature products by expanding every one of those steps into a complete product. Your opt in offer is laying the groundwork and showing people what is possible if they choose to connect/work with you. Keep it simple.
5 – Students leave with an understanding of…
This is the most important step you can take in outlining any content – what exactly do you want your readers (students) to understand. It will only be a few points. It may only be a sentence. Write it down before you begin to write your information product. For this post I wanted you to leave with an understanding of six important steps for organizing your content into a compelling information product. And yes, I can write a whole post on each topic. I also have my “How to Write a Magnetic How To Book: in home study form. I have my free ebook in my opt in offer “Take Your Idea and Run with it – 25 Expansive Ideas to Leverage Your Idea Into Multiple Income Streams www.caralumen.com along with a mini-ecourse “How to Make Money From What You Already Know.”
6 – How will you help them own the material?
Teaching is not teaching unless they get it. What kind of exercises can you create that will bring a new awareness to the reader, that will help them apply what you are teaching to their lives, that will help them see results? I created the workbooks for two of Michael Port’s books – “Book Yourself Solid” and “Beyond Booked Solid”. The first had been written with some exercises in it and I turned them into a workbook and added some exercise. But the second had only a few and I created a workbook with 44 exercises in it. I also created exercises for Sharon Sayler’s “What the Body Says”. Creating exercises to help people absorb the material is vital to your content. They can be awareness exercise, or writing exercise or action-oriented exercise. I call them experientials. They stop and invite the reader to apply the steps you are suggesting to their own lives and circumstances. Look through your material and see how you can help your readers own the material.
Be clear about who you serve and what then need/want from you, then give it to them. Use your opt in offer to introduce you and your work and show them how you get results. You opt in offer is a teaser, an invitation, a valuable gift to build your community. Make it welcoming.
2010 Cara Lumen
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