Knowledge is power and, depending on the type of information you have, possibly profit. Many successful business owners have shared the experience and knowledge that they’ve picked up over the years as books or as training. The process is much easier these days and the variety of formats for informational products (also known as infoproducts) has exploded. The big question is a matter of whether enough other people need your business know-how enough to pay you for it.
You’ve likely heard that there’s something you do or know that people would love to have a chance to learn, whether it’s a process you use in your own business or something a little more theoretical. If you’ve tried to share that information with others already, you may even have an idea of what formats work (or don’t) for getting your knowledge across. But to be sure you’ve got an idea that can really make you some money, you need to test the concept as inexpensively as possible.
Checking Out the Competition
Just like in any other business you might run, it’s important to understand who else is operating in the same market. If you have a clear idea of a particular infoproduct you want to sell, take a look at who is offering anything similar across as wide of a variety of formats as possible. As a general rule, infoproducts aren’t a zero-sum game: if someone buys one book, they’re likely to buy additional books. One infoproduct won’t be enough to satisfy most entrepreneurs’ needs for information to help them with their own business.
So what do you need to look for when considering your competition? First, you need to see that there is someone else offering such information: it’s a good way to tell that there’s a market for the products you may want to sell, that there are people actively looking for that type of knowledge. If there aren’t any competitors at all, it’s not a guarantee that you won’t be able to find a market for the infoproduct you have in mind. However, it is a useful indicator of a problematic niche. If you can’t find anyone else selling to your target market, you’re going to need to find other proof that there’s enough of an audience to justify creating and selling a product.
Testing Your Market
Luckily, there’s a low cost way to test infoproduct markets: give away some information for free. Free content is the mainstay of selling information online: it’s an easy way to build an audience and demonstrate your expertise. It’s always an easy way to prove that there are enough people interested in a subject to make it worth your while to create a product.
In an ideal world, you’d set up a blog and start writing posts on a regular basis, setting a traffic goal (such as 10,000 unique readers a month) that shows there’s an audience, at least for the information you’re willing to give away for free. Then you can either build your product or shutter the blog, based on your results. Depending on the time you have available and how much investment you can afford to sink into your infoproduct during the development phase, operating a full blog may just be out of the question. But you can try out a variety of content strategies, such as curating links on social media that will interest the audience you want to reach. Such smaller tests aren’t quite as valuable as indicators (there’s no guarantee that every single one of your Twitter followers will even see a link you share), but they can get you a better understanding of your market than you started with.
Teaming Up for an MVP
Whether or not there are other infoproduct publishers in the niche you’re a good fit for, you’re going to want to further test the market with a small, easy-to-create product. If there are other publishers present in the space, however, there’s an easy option on the table. Provided you can bring something unique to the table, consider partnering with someone who’s already actively publishing content in the space — free or otherwise. You can take advantage of someone else’s audience to test a market, as well as to test the format and concept you have for your product.
Look for the smallest part of what you want to offer that will still give you a good indicator of whether anyone interested in the topic will actually make a purchase. It is possible to test your minimum viable product (MVP) by offering it for free, usually by trading it for an email address. However, it’s always best to look for an option that will cause readers to lay down at least a little money because that truly proves that they’re interested enough in the topic to make a purchase.
Whether you offer a short ebook, a webinar or some other type of infoproduct, make feedback a priority. Ask each of your buyers whether the content was useful, if the format made sense and anything else you need to know if your infoproduct worked. And if there’s a problem — even if you sold a few copies of your product — don’t be afraid to scrap it and start over. Selling a bigger, more expensive product is typically harder, so it’s important to know you’re on the right track before you invest too much in building that product.
Move Forward with Your Product
These days, actually creating some sort of infoproduct is relatively easy — no matter whether you want to sell written, audio or video content. It’s easiest to put together the knowledge you want to share in a manageable format and then find a specialist to handle editing and design work, especially since you may have more on your hands than this particular project. If you’ve gone to the effort of testing your idea ahead of time, investing some capital into producing an infoproduct is a less risky venture than if you wanted to just dive right in. Explore your options and see if there’s a demand for the product you want to sell.