📻 — Your First Online Business: Create, Launch, Sell, and Grow an Information Product — Part 1 of 4

Reading Time: ~ 7 min.

Good morning yeniverse!

Before we jump into the larger issue… as you know I do… here are a few good reads from around the internet! Share them with friends and/or your communities! Some fascinating stuff.

  1. Real talk. Wow. The battle inside Signal. Willo video interviews?
  2. Smoredate. Spreadsheets into apps. Hurdle, mental health.
  3. IMVU raised another round. Revue got bought by Twitter.
  4. Performance, lifestyle, brand. Successful people being more successful.
  5. Discord is coming for Slack (and more). Hidden world of pricing.
  6. How hardware is “hard“. Online speech and publishing.
  7. Tweet to image! Content aware images? What? a16z is doing it.
  8. YC Spring 2021 Tour. And, cofounder matching program?!

To infinity & community,

— john


The wonderful thing about the internet is that there are a near-infinite number of ways to build, launch, and then profit from it! This is why it’s never been a better time to become an entrepreneur — a Full Stack Founder perhaps — and build the project, business, and community of your dreams!

But it’s not always clear nor obvious as how one should go about building an internet-based business and especially where one should start!

In other words, what are some of the better ways to learn how to launch, grow, and scale and online business and what should a new or first-time online entrepreneur try first?

My suggestion is to try building, launching, selling, and then growing “Info Product” or “Information Product” as it’s one of the fastest ways for you to learn the fundamentals of online business-building and give you a taste of the skills, knowledge, and know-how that is required to be successful.

And, over the next 4 days and 4 issues of YEN.FM, I’ll share with you a step-by-step process that you can use today or whenever you’re ready to start taking more control over your financial life and future!

Wait… What Exactly is an “Info” Product?

For starters, let’s quickly define what an “info product” really is:

An “info” product is a system of selling (access to) information or knowledge that you have that your customer wants.

That’s really it!

Now, from my perspective, there are only 3 main types of “information products” out there — you know most of them already:

  1. One-Time Purchase: eBooks, guides, how-tos, reports, trend data, analysis all fit in this category. Anything that can be delivered and sold via a digital platform or download.
  2. Event-Driven: Educational webinars, workshops, and events sell access to both information and people one-time, at the same time.
  3. Membership: Paid, premium access to people and information in the form of entire communities and experiences, email newsletters (free vs paid issues), gated forums / channels, and more. These are usually priced per month or per year. Members can oftentimes get an additional amount of value through collaborative work, hands-on virtual coaching, mentoring, peer support, as well as free or discounted events and more.

Information products almost never have a “physical” product; something that you can touch, hold, or use in the meatspace (although bonus material and collateral might be provided as part of the overall purchased package).

As such, the entire customer experience (from first encounter to transaction to using the product) is digital and can be delivered online.

Now that we have a foundation, let’s build one!

Let’s Go Create Your First Info Product!

Creating your first informational product isn’t hard, but, it will take time and many iterations as you grow in the knowledge, wisdom, and experience of walking through the system of creating, launching, selling, and then taking care of the business that you’ve built.

It’s important that you have a sober and realistic mindset when it comes to building, launching, and sharing anything on the internet: It takes time and a lot of practice to get right!

So, stay hungry and stay a bit foolish! So, let’s get started, shall we?

One of the quickest and smallest versions of an “info” product is the eBook, a digital good that you can build, design, and launch without having to spend much — in fact, you should be able to do this on the cheap.

Here’s the high-level process:

  1. Decide on the content you want to sell.
  2. Write content using your favorite writing, publishing tool.
  3. Assemble content into a sellable format.

Ready? Let’s go.

1. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: What Will You Write About? What Will You Sell?

This is where a lot of folks will struggle because they believe that they have to figure this out themselves, in isolation, locked in a dark room until you come out with an answer.

Wrong.

Before COVID, I used to have these weekend jam sessions where I’d invite up to 30 folks to essentially talk through content ideas and then write them down and build them in a single half-day workshop!

If you have an idea for the content you want to write and sell, then, go ahead and vomit all over your editor or word processor. If you need help, ping me on Twitter or via DM — I’m always available to chat.

The point is this: Deciding on content can be hard! That’s okay! But, it’s easier when you’re in the right community or if you have access to folks who are on the same journey as you. Don’t go this alone.

Here’s a shortcut: Pick something that you know you can teach. In other words, choose content that you can see yourself being paid to deliver to someone who wants it.

This probably means that you’ve already “taught” this material before — perhaps informally — but where you know the content inside and out and know that you can teach it to others in a way that they’ll experience real, tangible value.

If that’s not obvious, then, get in a room with other folks and chat through it with others, brainstorm and whiteboard out some ideas, then test-drive them with your friends or folks who know you.

In fact, they may give you some really important “straight talk” about what you’re doing and what you’re building and selling! Regardless, time box this part of the process and give yourself only a certain amount of time to decide.

Then, decide and start writing.

🛑 — Don’t miss this: By starting with a small group of friends and/or peers, you’re starting to build your community — first — before anything / everything else! This is The CommSaaS Way™️!

Community is a fundamental part of the entire system and process, from end-to-end! By starting with conversations, not content, you’ll be doing this in a way that’s sustainable and community-driven, a vastly better way to build a business than doing it by yourself!

2. It’s Go Time: Write The Content

Now, you have to start writing! If you need a “cheat sheet” then you can have mine — here’s my high-level outline of how I’ve written nearly a dozen eBooks over the years:

  • Title — Make it catchy!
  • Subhead — Make it even more catchy!
  • Intro paragraph covering material, what to expect…
  • 1st thing they’ll learn, examples, screenshots…
  • 2nd thing they’ll learn, examples, screenshots…
  • 3rd thing they’ll learn, examples, screenshots…
  • Closing paragraph, supporting material, extra resources…
  • Personal note, action-step!

Some folks will do this in a day, or weekend. Sometimes, over the span of a few days. But, the more important part — again! — is creating a time box for when you start and when you finish.

Otherwise, you’ll never get out of Step #1 and #2. I’ve also discovered that getting a writing buddy (or two) is useful to help get through this first few parts.

If you’d like a small sample and a bit more justification for the power and effectiveness of eBooks for all types of things, then, here you go!

Don’t take too much time reading — you have your own to write!

3. Assemble into a Sellable Form: .PDF

After you’ve written your content, it’s time to get it a bit more polished and ready to actually sell!

Now, there are a million different publishing formats that the “pros” are going to push you towards but, for now, I suggest just focusing on building, launching, and then selling a simple .pdf to get your feet wet and to get started; you can always diversify your offerings (versions of the download or purchasable product) later.

In the past, I kind of cheated and I used this now-outdated app called “iBooks Author” which was an Apple product that they discontinued!

But, thank goodness for free and powerful tools like Canva (and many others listed here) that can help you create not just art for the Cover or Title but also the body elements as well.

There are a lot of options to choose from:

Canva isn’t the only tool — there are many free tools out there! Get your eBook into the form that you’d like and once you’re done, it’s time to sell.

A few additional thoughts on this process:

  1. Design is fun, useful content is better. The best “info products” are the ones that actually change people’s lives, not hang out on someone’s hard drive and doesn’t get read or used. Maximize utility, not design.
  2. Perfect is the enemy of done. It’s better to ship an imperfect product than none at all. Rob and Arvid shared a few thoughts on this yesterday! Make sure that you’re always getting closer to finishing v1.0!
  3. Longer does not mean better. I’ve purchased 5-8 page eBooks before and they’ve been amazing!
  4. This is one of your first shots on goal; you’re going to miss for a while and that’s entirely okay! The real goal is not quitting.

At this point, I’d just use Apple Pages app to get most of this done:

Their templates are fantastic and free:

Then, you can export as a .pdf among many other options:

Got it? Good.

And that, my friends, is that! If you’ve successfully gotten this far then you’ve already done most of the work!

Now, we’re going to finish building our business-building system over the next few days! Tomorrow, we’ll continue this 4 Part Series by talking specifically about “Launching” the product and some of the more important community-centric systems that you’ll want in place before you start making money!

We’ll chat tomorrow!

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