Posts tagged Creating Information Products
When I first entered the eBook business, you HAD to publish your own books. (Unless you wanted to go the Clickbank route. ) Prices were high (compared to print books) and learning content providers were known to misrepresent their reports as eBooks. And the major publishers toyed with eBooks but basically considered them as irrelevant.
Then came the Kindle from Amazon and other similar products.
Last year, Amazon tried to force the major publishers to sell their eBooks at much reduced prices. Ultimately, Amazon had to back down. However, they did succeed by introducing the 70% royalty for books under $9.95. Self-publishers and the market did what force, threats and banning couldn’t do.
Unfortunately, other sales outlets aren’t as open-minded as Amazon. Getting Apple, Kobo or Barnes & Noble (the Nook) to carry self-published eBooks is an exercise in frustration — especially if you are from outside the U.S.A. (like TrainingNOW). Simply put, most of the booksellers haven’t gotten the new business model yet.
In any case, the U.S. Justice department has announced that it will investigate the “Cartel” practices of Apple and the big publishers. You can read more about this on ZDNet (part of CBS Interactive) Justice Dept. to sue Apple, other publishers over e-book ‘cartel’ . The European (antitrust) Commission began a similar investigation about three months ago.
It will be interesting to see what the fallout will be.
One of the problems I have is that I’m often forced to squeeze my time. I’m also an insatiably curious fellow. That’s why I leave research to my business partner. Frankly it plays to my weaknesses — time and terrier learning.
One of the solutions I have found to that problem is to play videos and audios in the background while I write. Or at least put words to pay since I typically have written the piece long before. It saves time, and I learn and work at the same time. For most of my findings the amount of attention I pay to the background is sufficient to learn the material.
Unfortunately, every once in a while I find my self stopping and paying attention to the background “noise”. Even worse sometimes I end up putting my work aside and picking up another page to begin work on an idea that the “noise” has burned into my brain.
That is the nature of this video I found on the TEDxWaterloo site.
One of the core elements of the Content Mapping system is determining what it is your reader wants to read. You never want to bother writing anything that your reader has no interest in. It doesn’t matter what media you choose. In fact, you need to do this no matter what business you are in (it applies outside of the Expert/Information Product/Training business too).
In the full Content Map system, there is a whole process associated with identifying and building upon this. In the Content Map itself, one half of the map is concerned with documenting and communicating that information to your hindbrain.
In the discussions on delivery, I regularly bring up the concept of presenting as though you were conversing with your audience. You want to sound like a conversation around the kitchen table. Or a bar if you’re more comfortable there. Or your living room Chesterfield. You need to talk to your audience in the natural way that you speak with your friends.
It is seldom that I have heard these ideas brought together and spoken of in quite so succinct and well thought out way.
So I present to you The Walrus … (in the much more agreeable and entertaining form of Shelley Ambrose)
Welcome to a five minute presentation by LearningCreators. This is the first of three presentations on this topic. So what’s the topic?
It’s probably the most common problem my customers complain of … Finding the time to write.
Everyone has a slightly different cut on the problem … “I don’t have the time to write because I work all day” or “I have to get my kids to school and soccer and football and … ” or maybe it’s a matter of “I don’t want to start because I’m not sure people will want to read it”.
But there’s one common theme throughout this …
And that tells me there’s a problem.
You see there’s a problem with problem solving. And providing excuses is a symptom of that problem.
In order to solve any problem, you need to be solving the real problem. You need to solve the problem that’s underlying the stated problem. You need to drive down to the core of the issue.
In North America especially, we have a tendency to state problems in terms of one particular solution. And we have a tendency to focus on symptoms and panaceas rather than looking at actual causes and actual solutions. But that doesn’t help to cure problems. In fact, it leaves us chasing solutions to one symptom after another.
And that means if you look around you’ll find all kinds of “solutions” to the time problem. Everyone has a solution to finding the time to write.
For some gurus it’s “Figure out why you want to do this and that’ll carry you through”. All you need is to do is build up your desire.
And then there’s the new agey gurus “Visualize the result if you do it and magic will happen.” They believe that if you dream it hard enough the universe will just magically make it happen.
And then there’s always the disciplinarian in the bunch who says, “Shut up, sit down, write. And stop cryin’ about it.” They don’t exactly give you a lot of latitude in fixing the problem. But that’s okay ’cause they don’t exactly give you a solution either.
The problem with all those solutions is they don’t seem to work.
You try one solution after another and they just don’t sustain you. You still haven’t got the time to write.
So you go on and you try someone else who says basically the same thing in different words, and guess what. It still doesn’t work.
So you start thinking it’s your fault… or you give up entirely. Well, guess what?
It isn’t your fault.
You have a problem and no one has bothered to help you solve it. You need to know the real problem if you’re going to solve the problem. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
So what’s the real problem?
You want to write a book or create a course or whatever … but … it never seems to happen.
Well duh … I know it sounds really silly and simplistic. That’s because it is.
No one said the problem had to be hard. It just has to be the real problem and not a symptom or a solution.
The problem isn’t that you don’t have the time. The problem is that you want to write a book or create a course and it isn’t happening. You can’t seem to build the energy to start and finish it.
One potential solution is that you need to find the time. But it’s only one solution. And that means that even if you find the time you’ll may never actually finish your book. Why? Because you’ve fixed the symptom not the problem.
We need to get further in behind the problem . We need to explore the situation a little deeper.
It turns out that how much writing you do is a combination of five elements.
- Your desire to write
- The amount of time you spend
- How hard it is to write
- How quickly you can start
- How effective you are at writing
You can combine the last three together to make things a little bit easier to understand and work with.
We call the result the Work Equation.
The amount of work you get done is proportional to
- The effort involved in writing
- Your desire to write
- How much time you have to write
If you aren’t writing, you’ve allowed one of the elements to overload the function. Something — we don’t know what — is out of step with the rest of the function. The result is that you aren’t getting anything done. And you aren’t going to get anything done until you get all the elements into alignment.
So what’s the solution?
Well that’s the topic of our next 5 minute presentation. I hope you’ll join us again in for the next presentation. I hope you’ve found this presentation has helped you get a better handle on your own problems finding the time to write. And that you’ll join us for the rest of the presentations.
Next Session – Due Thursday!
Creating a good speech is like creating any other learning content. You need to start from the audience.
In most cases, people can’t judge your content based on its intrinsic quality. Instead what they do is judge your content based on its relevance to themselves.
The only way to make your content truly relevant to your audience is to start from their point of view.
Why are they interested in this content? Yes, it’s important to me but why would they care?
What do they expect to get out of this content? What should they expect to get out of this content? How will I reconcile the two? How should I present the content so they get what they expect as well as what they should expect?
How will they use this content? How will they apply it? What am I expecting them to do with it? What are they expecting to be able to do?
The only way to answer these questions is to know who you are creating your content for. You need to know their likes, their dislikes and their motivators.
In short, you need to start with a target audience and then develop your speech for your target audience.
There’s a “new” SEO traffic technique out there that involves making comments to blogs for the sole purpose of getting backlinks (i.e. Google will raise your page rank based on the number of links to your site).
Now, I don’t mind the occasional link or two from my site — especially if it is a related to information product (aka learning content product) creation such as eBooks and Webinars and Seminars and Podcasts and Videos etc. etc. etc.. Even more so if you are in the marketing side — which I’m trying to stay out of. Hell, I’ll even promote my competition — content creation, SEO and web design.
Unfortunately, lately the level of spamming has gotten out of control …
The final straw came when a spammer decided to write negative comments and question my knowledge of writing. At my age and with my experience I bloody well better know what I’m talking about! And if information seems to come out of thin air, trust me every cc of that air has been earned.
So … I still welcome comments … I love comments … and I promise any comments you leave are read (even if I don’t reply). Any suggestions for articles or courses will be considered (and keep looking at the blog ’cause they’ll probably end up as an article at least!)
However, I’m forced to:
- remove all URLs from your name (so no more free ride)
- remove all URLs from posts (unless they are relevant and earned)!
- require registration of people commenting.
Sorry, but a few bad eggs ruin it for everyone.
I’m still focused on the course which I’m hoping to do in one mass next week. So blog articles will return … hopefully in two weeks!
Part 1 – Write How-To Books & Creating Information Products & Course – Where To From Here?
Hey Folks, I just wanted to thank you for reading my blog. After all a writer without readers is wasting his time and energy. So Thank You for reading my few poor words.
Now up to this point I’ve been concentrating most of my advice on writing how-to books and eBooks and whatnot. But of course, what I do is create Learning Content … of which how-to books and eBooks are just one form or media. Basically, anything that is a course or a knowledge transfer is fair game for me.
So what would you like me to concentrate on? Do you want me to continue talking about how to write how-to books and eBooks. Or would you rather I spent time on other course formats … DVD, CD, and Live Seminars for example.
What questions would you like me to answer? Where are you having problems with writing your how-to Books or creating your information products and courses? Ask away … this is your chance for some FREE coaching!
Part 2 – On Writing Articles – I Can Write More Than Just How-To Books — Really I Can!
Just an quick announcement — Over the last two weeks I’ve been writing article after article for EZineArticles.com which has been both tiring, frustrating and a bit of an ego boost. I’ve got several articles up … I’m aiming for 10 a day — hey they’re short — but we’ll see how many I can actually get out.
The reason it’s an ego boost is that I got two promotions ahead of time. One is being flagged as an Expert Writer. (wee 8) ) Which is cool but … And the second is that I got promoted to platinum from basic ahead of time. You see they edit the submissions. You get 10 submissions to convince them you are good enough to bother with. Each of which is edited twice before being posted. They then evaluate all ten of your submissions. You then get another 25 to convince them that you are good enough to be let loose. Again these are edited twice and posted. After the 25 are published, you are evaluated yet again. With luck you then get to be promoted to platinum level — which means you can submit as many articles as you’d like.
I was promoted directly to platinum after only 9 submissions.
Pretty cool huh?
You can get access to my articles by clicking on the box to the right.
Part 3 – On Free Courses and Paid Courses and Keeping In Touch.
Just a reminder about the boxes over to the right ….
The first is a link to our FREE course on How To Write How-To Books. Over 7 weeks I’ll show you how to plan, design and write a how-to book in under 24 hours. Nothing is held back!
The second box is a link to the book How To Write How-To Books in 24 hrs Or Less. This system in a box will help you to write your how to book. Lots of bonuses and a great price.
The third and fourth boxes link to two solutions for those of you who’ve hit a block. The third box links to our coaching service where you can get weekly guidance on writing your how-to book. The fourth box solves the problem by linking to our custom book writing service.
Don’t forget our twitter birds and the newsletter opt-in. Our twitter account at www.tritter.com/PMPsicle are great ways to connect with us and keep track of what is going on here.
Give them a try
Oh what the hey … I’m in PAIN!!!!!!
You see I’ve been working so hard and so long lately that my poor back is killing me!
And that lead me to write a new series on how to set up your office to write a how to book.
You see, one of the things that people forget when they are about to write a how to book is that they need to have a place to write. The same thing goes for creating information products in general.
So I’m going to share my experiences over the next two weeks or so on different issues related to the physical act of writing how to books.
However, I want to be clear right off the top that these are my experiences. Every one of us is different and you really need to think about your choices and why you are making them. So feel free to comment and disagree.
(BTW … I’ll be interrupting this series for a special announcement … so keep checking in even if you aren’t interested in setting up your office).
So what am I going to write about:
- The most important item in your office
- The second most important item in your office
- Where do you need to be?
- Paper, Paper everywhere … not any more.
- Sunshine came softly over my office today …
Sorry folks, I think I need to go take another back pain pill …
As always, if there is something special you want me to include just ASK!
When I started writing this series I didn’t expect it to go to 8 blog articles! I guess that’ll teach me.
Today is the final entry in this series.
So let’s do a quick review of what was discussed:
- Introduced the topic and the questions
- What types of information products can you get
- Some Techniques for creating information products
- Cost of creating products
- Building a reputation (value in terms of reputation)
- Training value
- Dollar value (selling price)
And today we’ll bring it all together to make a decision.
If you remember back to the introduction (personally I looked it up ) … I said that there are 6 questions you need to answer when deciding what form your information product needs to take:
- What forms am I capable of doing?
- What forms am I most comfortable with?
- How much will this content cost (in time or money)?
- Can I create multiple forms from one?
- How important is this to my reputation?
- How much will customers pay for (value) this form
So how do we start the decision ….
I suggest that you begin with the first two questions … Capability and comfort. To use a real life example, my partner Paul and I were initially intending that TrainingNOW was to be a company for live seminars and training consulting. However, Paul’s disability became much worse over the period we were creating the company and it’s assets. As a result we no longer do live seminars. And our consulting has been transferred to LearningCreators.ca primarily as internet facilitated and to LearningCreators.com as eLearning/Train the trainer. Although I do a little live consulting for training our concentration is now elearning and remote consulting.
As for video, again Paul’s disability has limited him to doing webinars and similar types of voice over (audio) presentations (at least that’s his claim ).
One of the things I’ve learned through this experiment in internet marketing is that live and video are completely different. I’m quite comfortable doing live presentations. I’m used to doing them. I like doing them. Video, on the other hand, has proven to be a pain in the pitootie … a camera just doesn’t give you the energy back that a real audience does. And somehow I become hyper-aware of every mistake.
In short, like anything, it takes practice to appear either live or in front of a camera or in voice over. And the practice in one doesn’t help with the others. (This is in addition to the practice for the presentation itself).
You may find that you are not comfortable creating certain types of information products. While practice will improve comfort levels there is a limit.
So both your ability and your comfort may remove certain formats from the list of options.
The next question is how important to your reputation is this information product. Sometimes, the whole reason for doing an information product is to build reputation. In this case, all other factors may be irrelevant.
Should this be the case, there is only one choice. A proper, well written, well organized, well edited and professionally published traditional book is required. The best, of course, is to have a traditional publisher publish the book, however, today’s self-published books are a close second. This book should be written as a stand-a-lone product using traditional methods rather than repurposing methods. If you decide to create another format as well, you should treat this as a different decision.
Once you’ve decided that reputation is not a driver then you are able to make a decision based on the mix:
- suitability (training value)
When making this decision keep in mind the different repurposing options available. You will often find that the best solution is to create all formats from a video. Typically, video is the first format that is dropped because it is the most expensive to do well. However, don’t underestimate that ability of modern camera. A $150 HD camera can produce a product which is amazingly professional as a raw product. And editing is now done using PCs and software which is generally available and often free (check out Jahshaka if you need a full editing program).
Like any other business decision, you want to maximize your profit while keeping your cost within your budget limits.
Okay, we’re almost finished.
So far we’ve covered the cost of producing different types of information product, we’ve covered the reputation value and we’ve covered the training value.
Today we’re going to discuss a type of value we as internet marketers like to discuss … money. Bucks, dollars, lira, pounds, pesos … $$$$$$$ (got the pic?)
So how much is a customer willing to pay for a product?
Frankly, that’s a question that has stumped many a marketer. The answer is typically “more than you thought!”. And there are a number of factors involved. Like, how good your sales copy is, did you position your information product as a system or just a book, are you targetting the affluent or the rest of us … and so forth.
However, once you’ve established a price you should get a relative price that looks along these lines (for comparable amounts of information, well presented and professional in appearance):
So for example (and these numbers are made up but reasonable), a multi-DVD set which has been repurposed into a book and into an audio set might sell for:
- Live Seminar (1 day) $1500
- Video (4 DVDs) $297
- Audio (4 CDs) $97
- Book (200 pgs) $49
Did the relationship surprise you?
It should have … and to be honest it was a bit of a cheat. You see the relationship between live, video and audio is reasonably stable (and in that order). This corresponds to our previous discussion of value in terms of training quality.
However, books have an established market. And the price needs to correspond to that price point which your customer has established in their mind. That’s why the ending dollar amount of $7 is not as key. People are used to the $9 ending point.
So if I redo the prices (still being reasonable and still providing the same information) I might get the following:
- Live Seminar (2 hrs) – $250
- Video (1 DVD) – $97
- Book (60 pages) – $19
- Audio (1 CD) – $7
Notice that the relationship between book and audio switch places. Why? Because people expect a book to have a minimum cost which is higher than that of the audio.
Now how much is your information product worth?
In real terms you’ll need to estimate that based on your knowledge of the market. And don’t forget that some products will be worth more to you without a dollar figure. HUH???????
Remember that even FREE live seminar can sometimes make you more money than one you charge for! So when you are predicting the price for the purposes of determining what formats to use for your information products, don’t forget to figure in giveaways. For example, by providing a FREE live seminar you may get a large, interested and active audience (you might not but that’s another issue). Just perfect for background to create a DVD set for you to sell at the back of the room. In this case, the dollar values are all messed up because you traded dollars today for dollars tomorrow.
Similarly, books are often given out as free samples (e.g. opt-in and bonuses) as are MP3s. Once an audio is given out for free, the physical version (a CD) has little if any value. But of course, building a list is often of far more value than the audio.
Despite the difficulty of identifying a price point, the price is a major component of the decision to create an information product in one format or another.
We’ve now finished the discussion of the various elements involved in the decision. It’s now time to discuss the decision itself. Which we’ll do in the next web entry.
Man this series has turned into a real book all on its own!
So far we’ve covered the cost of creating your information product, and we’ve covered the reputation value of each type of information product. The next item in our triumvarate of decision is actually two related items. One which we’ll deal with today and one which we’ll deal with next week.
Today we’ll deal with the real value to the customer … or to be more precise the suitability of the media to the job.
There are two old sayings that matter for today’s discussion.
- “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember today. Let me do it and I’ll remember forever”
- “I hear what you said.”, “I see what you mean”, “I understand what we did” .
Both of these sayings are correct.
There are three basic learning modes Visual, Verbal, Active. The first two are part of our hardwiring and will change from individual to individual. Most people are visual. They need to see it to understand it. The best way to teach these people is with diagrams.
However, a much lower percentage of people are Verbal. They need words to understand the subject. Frequently, these words need to be on paper in order to be properly understood.
Finally, we all internalize the information when we use it actively.
However, even if we ignore our cognitive biases, as a group, we will learn more when we are shown what to do than if we are told what to do. If we then do it, we will learn and retain the most.
Combine that with the fact that as our participation in the learning process increases our understanding and retention increase.
These latter two points are why our typical breakdown of training is lecture, seminar, workshop.
In a lecture, you have a talking head speaking at the audience who sits back and listens. Information is basically one way. This is good for initial training and basic information.
In a seminar, questions are asked of the audience and a back and forth exploration of the topic occurs (hopefully). Information is two way, and examination and application is encouraged. This is good for developing understanding around the information.
A workshop consists, usually, of hands on application of the information provided in the lecture and the concepts developed in the seminar. It is in this type of instruction that the greatest learning takes place.
Okay, so what does all that have to do with information products?
Basically, it means that you have two types of people. The first group will learn best by seeing diagrams. They will learn best if they have a chance to see you talking especially if they are shown diagrams. The second group (a much smaller group) learn best by reading. For these people books are ideal. However, all of us learn best by doing. So whatever media is used, practice is a key to learning.
So to put it into context …. the best media for training is:
- Live workshops
- Live seminars
- Live speeches (e.g. keynotes) and lectures
Interestingly, Frank Kern posted a blog entry discussing a survey he did on what media people want to be taught in. And his results of what people want is very close to the list above (his survey was simpler than my list).
One of the things we need to do when using one of the non-live techniques is to include some participation. It will increase retention immensely. HOWEVER, in VERY big letters, don’t ask the audience to write this down! It sounds made up and chinzy. Better to say something along the line of “Get out your pen and notepad, ’cause you’ll be getting lots of information and will want to make notes as we go.” No pressure, no phoney fill out this form because I think it will make you stay awake. Having said that, a better technique is to ask the audience to stop the video for a moment and answer a question. Questions such as “What will this get you?” and “How could you use this?” are good for this.
When you design your learning content then the best format for the information product will fall out. Keep in mind however, that there is nothing stopping you from repurposing the information product to create other products either to include with the original or to be sold (usually as a downgrade to the original) or given away as a bonus.
Next up, we’ll talk about the value the customer assigns to the media.