How to Make Money Selling Information Products Online
After the internet became a mainstream phenomenon in the late 1990s, it changed life as we know it. Communications, travel, music, government… shopping. Yes, retailers large and small have embraced the Internet as a way sell to customers across the country… and around the world.
E-commerce has grown exponentially over the last decade and shows no signs of slowing down. Consider that 40 percent of the world’s internet users, that’s more than 1 billion people, have shopped online at least once.
And worldwide business-to-consumer online sales were $1.7 trillion in 2015… and that grew to $2.35 trillion at the end of 2016.
Large e-tailers like Amazon and eBay, as well as traditional retailers like Walmart, have embraced the online business model wholeheartedly. But even though they may dominate the industry, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for small operators like you.
In fact, there’s never been a better time to get involved in selling online as a solo entrepreneur. It’s so much easier to make money with an online business than have a bricks-and-mortar store. The risk, the investment, and time spent is so much smaller.
Along with all this e-commerce activity has grown a whole new way to create and sell products. And it happens to be the easiest, most cost-effective, and oftentimes most profitable way to operate an online business. I’m talking about selling information products.
What Are Digital Information Products?
An information product can come in all sorts of formats, but at its heart a product like this must pass on useful advice to the consumer.
Despite the name, people don’t want simply information. They crave tips and strategies for making their life better. They want guidance. And that’s what the best information products provide, whether it’s a video, an ebook, an audio, a webinar, a membership website…
Keep in mind that in this case, although a CD or DVD or a printed book is technically an information product, we want to focus solely on those products that are delivered electronically, usually via download or some secure membership website.
For example, an ebook in PDF format, a video on a password-protected site, or an audio recording downloaded from your website.
The reason for this is because this way your customers can order products anytime day or night, from anywhere in the world, and get their product instantly, without you being involved in the transaction. It’s money while you sleep. Sure, you will have to handle customer service and keep an eye on sales. But it’s much less hassle than having to keep track and send out orders.
Why You Should Sell Digital Information Products Online
There are several more advantages with digital information products.
- They are easy and cheap to create. You can make a digital information product using nothing but your time and mental energy. That’s free when it comes to your investment money-wise. You just need ideas. Then you write your ebook, film your video, record your audio, create your webinar… whatever you plan to do. This also means that if the product doesn’t sell as well as you like, you haven’t sunk any money into the project. That reduces your risk and financial exposure.
- It’s virtually free to store them. Because these products are digital, they are simply space on a server, on your computer (make sure to back it up), or on the cloud. For people with physical products, if they're not doing online drop shipping, they have to carry large inventories. That costs money to store and manage all that product if you have a warehouse and have hired a fulfillment house or other provider to oversee it. And don’t even think about doing it at home — you’ll quickly become overwhelmed. Much better to stick with digital in which your products take up basically no space.
At this point, you might be worried. You’re thinking that if you have digital products being sent to customers… what’s to stop them from sending copies to their friends or selling it on their own? Nothing really. But rest assured that 99.9 percent of your customers won’t do this. And for the most part information marketers aren’t too concerned about this issue cannibalizing sales.
How to Find a Profitable Market for Information Products
So how do create your own information products… and make sure they’ll be bestsellers?
The first step is research. You need to follow the trends and figure out what the most profitable niche markets online are right now and what format would work best to meet that need. A great place to start is with your own interests. If you can match a profitable business with a passion, you’re all set.
So start with an interest you have. Then start checking around online to see whether you are the only one who loves… online poker, for example. Look for blogs, Facebook groups, and online forums for discussions about this niche. Look at the mainstream news — is it mentioned? Look at retailers like Amazon or eBay to see what products they have for sale in this niche.
For information products in particular, you should check out the site Clickbank.com, which used to specialize in information products although it has branched out into other areas.
You’ll find many categories in all of these places, from yoga to dog training to travel planning to weight loss and fitness… there’s sure to be something that you’re interested in.
From all these sources you’ll get a good sense of whether or not this a viable trend with sales potential. You should also research what sorts of products are offered, the topics they cover, the prices… this is also vital market data you can use to guide as you create and sell your own similar information products. You’re not plagiarizing or ripping off — you’re getting inspiration.
It may seem counterintuitive to seek out thriving markets and then try to join in. But that simply means that there is a ready market for your products. It’s not good to be a pioneer and try to create a market from scratch — that’s often a recipe for failure. Your prospect’s follow trends and latch on to fads… you should too. At least until the next trend comes along.
How to Create Digital Information Products
As far as creating your information products, that’s easy too. Remember that the content, whatever the format, should be useful advice. You could create how-to guides, strategies, tips, and tricks… provide something the prospect can’t get on their own.
For ebooks, magazines, and similar products, you can create them in Microsoft Word and then save them as a PDF. For the cover, find a freelancer on a site like Fiverr.com to create a professional looking cover for you for very little money — as little as $5.
To film videos you can use your smartphone or a simple point-and-click camera. Once you have the “raw” movie file, you can use an intuitive video editing software like iMovie (if you have a Mac) or Windows Movie Maker to create your own cleanly edited video.
Audios are simple too. Just use GarageBand (if you have a Mac) or the Sound Recorder app on Windows Media Player to record your voice. You will need a microphone.
If you want to interview others, you could use something like Skype or GoToWebinar.
Another option, if you’re showing people something your computer screen, like explaining the features of a piece of software, you can use the screen capture program like Camtasia to film every second of what you do to playback later.
How to Market Your Information Products
In many ways, no matter how far we’ve come when it comes to technology and online selling… the same principles of marketing and consumer psychology hold true. And that’s definitely the case with your online venture.
The name of the game here is direct-response marketing. Back in the day, this was done with snail mail flyers, letters, magalogs, catalogs, and other printed material. Yes, so-called “junk mail.” But they wouldn’t send it out by the millions if it didn’t work. These days this sort of content is sent out electronically. And it still works like a charm to get customers to open their wallets.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money when you engage in direct-response marketing online. Email marketing is a virtually free method to reach sell your products. And that will be the basis of your marketing efforts.
The basic idea is create a list of email subscribers. You send them both useful content — free valuable information related to your product/niche, as well as offers to buy products. Sending them the free content will speed up the process of them knowing, liking, and trusting you enough to buy your paid products. The novelty of buying stuff online wore off years ago and now people have a lot to choose from — you must give them a warm fuzzy feeling to be the one they buy from.
Yes, only a small percentage of people will actually respond. But that’s how direct response works. You should have enough prospects coming in that even a small percentage of conversions will result in a profit.
To build an email list, you can employ a variety of methods.
- Search Engine Optimization: In a nutshell, you use valuable content on your website or blog to catch the attention of Google and get listed high in the search results.
- Paid ads: Whether you use Google’s own pay-per-click ads or banner ads or run ads on a blog network, this can be a viable option, albeit expensive.
- Social Media: Networks like Facebook are invaluable at reaching a targeted customer base these days.
So how do you take it to the next level? You tap into that small amount of people who buy your introductory product, also known as a front-end product. You contact those people differently than your normal subscribers.
Because they have bought something, they are more likely to buy similar products. So you offer them more in-depth, higher-priced products, known as “back end products.” That’s where the big money is. A back end product could be one-on-one coaching or an event, for example.
Putting It All Together
As you can see information products make for the perfect online business. They’re digital, easy to create and deliver. And the profit margins are huge.
So next steps…
- Find your niche – make sure it has bestselling potential.
- Figure out which format works best for your niche: audio, video, ebook, etc.
- Create your information product(s).
- Create an email list and then market to that list.
On a final note, another simple way to make money online is selling digital information products as an affiliate.