Posts tagged IM
Sorry folks, but Thursday and Friday turned out to be busier than I could handle. So this article just ended up being a wee might late. :sad: Sorry about that!
So far we’ve been kind of working up to one third of the decision matrix for identifying which information product you should create … Specifically the cost.
To a large extent I can’t tell you what the cost will be.
You see as I hinted at in the last posts, you need to answer the question for yourself.
Generally speaking the relationship between writing, video, live/slideshow, and audio are:
- Text book (300+ pgs) = 1 week live seminar = 6 hrs finished Video = 12 hrs finished audio
- Executive book (100-200 pgs) = 1 day live seminar = 1.5 hrs finished Video = 3 hrs finished audio
- Article = 1-1/2 hour live seminar/webinar = 1/4 hr finished Video = 1/2 hr finished audio
HOWEVER, your own comparison will vary. First because you may be more or less comfortable speaking or writing. Writing is a very private task and as a result doesn’t take a great deal of practice to become comfortable. (It does take a lot of practice to become capable but that can’t happen until you are comfortable). Speaking – public or otherwise – does require a great deal of practice before you become comfortable.
To make matters worse speaking to a crowd is much easier than speaking to a camera. A crowd gives you feedback and energy. A camera gives you nothing. So practice for one doesn’t help you with practice for the other. In fact, practice for the crowd is more a matter of becoming confident and comfortable. Practice for the camera is a matter of becoming able to generate your own energy.
Then comes the matter of repurposing and other techniques such as interviews. It might seem that there is little extra cost involved in repurposing (e.g. video to audio to transcription), but as we’ll see in the next post, the costs are much higher than one will be told.
So all I can tell you is that you need to determine how much it will cost YOU to create the product in the various forms. Just remember to include all the costs including preparation, production and post production.
I’ve sort of written about this topic before but for books only and from a slightly different point of view (sourcing).
When it comes to strategy there are four ways to obtain an information product or learning content (including books). You can:
- Create it as an original piece
- Put it together as a collection of smaller pieces
- Steal it (legally of course)
- Repurpose it
And of course you can combine techniques. Each of these has benefits and disadvantages.
Creating an original information product is a complex, task; the difficulty of which should not be underestimated. We discussed the relative “cost” of each format in the last blogticle so I’m not going to repeat myself. Except to state that the length of the finished product defines the level of complexity. Generally speaking, they compare as:
- 500-1000 word article vs a 1-1/2 hour webinar, seminar, or podcast
- 2500-5000 word white paper vs a 1/2 day webinar etc. or a 1-1/2 hr interview
- 10,000-25,000 word eBook vs a 1-2 day seminar
- 50,000-100,000 word Book vs a 2 day-1 week seminar
A much simpler method is to combine other pieces together. Two long white papers on a related subject can be combined into a short eBook. Or five to seven long articles or short white papers (always on a related subject) can be combined with customized introduction and summary chapters into an Executive level book. One issue to remember when estimating the cost of this technique is that articles often have a different tone to them, even when written close together. They may also have different views of the same information. This means that they need to be edited as a unit before being release otherwise they will not hang together as a unified whole.
It’s a little harder to conceive of a pre-recorded version of this. The fact that even a short recording is actually a version makes it hard to see. However, most “gurus” have a package of DVDs or CDs that they sell. Often these consist of a dozen or so DVDs or CDs with an introductory DVD and (if they are skilled information product creators) a summary DVD. Or at least a scene or two fulfilling that purpose. Most will simply combine the original pieces however, if there is a great variation in recording quality they may re-record the scripts. Exactly the same as with a written version.
There are three versions of “stealing it”. And I want to be clear that in no case am I suggesting violating copyright. I’m just exagerating.
The first version is to connect with an expert, develop a series of questions your audience would want answered and then ask the expert and record their answers. A classic interview in other words.
The second version is called PLR or Private Label Rights. Essentially you obtain (purchase) the right to resell the information product. Each information product will have different rights assigned. These can include the right to relabel the product with a different title and cover (and author’s name). It may also include the right to rewrite the product or incorporate it into another product. It may also limit your ability to sell or give away the product. And so on. The big issues with PLR information products are twofold. The first is the overall quality of the product. Sometimes these are not well done or they contain information which is incorrect. The second issue is the age of the product. This can cause the information to be out of date and inaccurate. It can also mean that the information product has made the rounds (meaning everyone’s got a copy already).
The third version of stealing is to reference someone else’s information product. You’ll notice a few days ago I recommended a YouTube video to you (Will’s Wisdom). This is an example of referencing or recommending or reviewing to create an information product (in this case the blog entry). I am constantly reading trade journals related to project management. I maintain a list of my clients and their interests. As I run into an article they might like, I add it to their list and then send it out as a bulk mail. This is probably the easiest method to create an information product there is — although the research will kill you!
Finally, you can repurpose information products into other information products. Anthony Robbins has a great example of this in his Masters of Marketing/The New Money Masters offering. With this series he takes and does an interview with an internet marketing guru. This interview is professionally videotaped (actually digitally recorded in HD but that sounds dumb), titles added and then released as a DVD. It is then reedited into an audio product and placed on CD. The interview is then sent to be transcribed. Now a key quality point here is that the transcription is then re-written and combined with an article on the subject to create a 20 page mini-book. The result is a package which is still not worth what I pay for it but is too good to lose (grrumble, grrumble, grrumble … hint for you folks in the U.S., there is no point in using International Air shipping for us Canucks. US & Canadian mail/shipping is all a mix of land and air regardless. So you’re costing me extra for nothing PLUS if sent by International Air it goes through customs as if it were worth big bucks meaning I end up paying GST & duties on the product and shipping. So the $26 bucks plus shipping ends up costing me $100. Not cool!). It’s also a package that can be split up into 3 components and resold individually, given away as a bonus or free offer or otherwise monetized.
So that’s the choices you have. The trick now is to determine how much it will cost you to create content in the various formats and using the various techniques. That’s going to be the point of our next post in this series.
Okay, up to this point I’ve kind of kept to just how to books. After all, my book and course focus on how to books.
How to Write Your How To Book in 24 hrs or Less
… sort of obvious eh?
But what is a how to book? It’s just a particular form or media to carry learning content.
In other words, we happen to be using it to teach but we could as easily be using another format for teaching the same material.
In fact, we often want to.
Two principle reasons … other forms are easier to learn from and easier to generate. Duh? So why are we even bothering with books? The answer is twofold. First, some people need to have it in writing in order to learn (actually a small but important percentage). But more importantly from the entrepreneur and consultant’s point of view, people value books more. Publish a book and gain instant credibility! A book needs to be one of the cornerstones of your expert marketing effort.
But that’s not the topic of this post. (Do some hunting … I’ve discussed it before and will again later.)
The point of all that is that some of the other types of learning content are like articles and blog posts. Short and quick and easy to get out. And really, really hungry for topics!Man they just chew topics like CRAZY!
So how do you come up with topics for these topic munchers. Now I’m not talking about the alternative forms of the material. That’s where the book is repeated in book, webinar, video and audio formats. I’m more talking about the small “articles” you’ll need around the topic for marketing purposes and blogs.
First start with your topic …. say writing how to books (self serving ain’t I?).
Then ask 7 to 9 questions about the topic that you think you’re audience might like to know. Of course, asking your audience is the best way to create this list. And easier too! But you can create your own list by adding words and deleting words. Start your questions off with How, why, when, where, what, who. Try to concentrate on the things that would be important to your customers/audience. Things like money are always important.
So let’s say I make up the following list …
- How do I write how to books?
- Why should I write how to books?
- When should I write how to books?
- Where should I write how to books?
- What topics should I write how to books about?
- Who should write how to books?
- How can I make money writing how to books?
- How can I make a difference writing how to books?
Once you’ve got that list, you’ve should be able to pick out at least 5-7 which are suitable. By suitable I mean small and reasonably tight. After all “How do I write how to books?” kind of covers the whole topic! But doing a short summary might work.
Now take that list and come up with some related questions your audience might have about the topic. Keep in mind Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
So for example, if I take “How do I write how to books?” and expand on that I might get
- How do I write well
- How do I develop topics
- How do I determine chapters
- How do I create a content map
- How do I determine what my audience really wants
- How do I make money with books
- How do I edit books
I could go on but you get the idea. By the time you finish the second level you’ll have at least 49 topics. Now expand on those and you’ll be somewhere in the area of 343 topics.
See … there’s lots of topics. And I haven’t even mentioned the lists (top 10, 7 ways to, the 5 things you must know).
Of course, there’s one problem with this method.
Okay, two problems; the amount of work involved, and the fact that you may or may not hit the problems your reader is interested in.
If you ask your audience – and they bother to tell you — you’ll get a much better list of the problems they’re encountering. Address those problems and you’ll have a much better list of topics.
The key is getting audience involvement.
Following on the last two lessons … there’s only so much work that one person can get done. After all, you got into this business to give yourself a little extra income or to be able to spend time with your family, not to spend 20 hours a day working.
At some point you need to decide what has to be done by you. And what you can give up and let someone else do.
Then you need to give the latter away. Let someone else do it. Yeah, it might cost you a few bucks but if you’re careful, it will cost you less than trying to do it all yourself.
Outsourcing is the micro-entrepreneur’s friend.
Lesson Learned #8:
You’re only one person! Get Help When You Need it.
Sometimes, there is too much work for one person. Sometimes, it’s work that you’re just not good at.
Learn to recognize when you’re not the best person to do the work. Then outsource it.
You’ll be happier and more efficient. The job will be done better. And your company will be stronger.
Whenever you start a major project there is a tendency to want to concentrate on it. Especially when it’s running behind!
But remember your reasons for getting into the IM eBiz. Words like freedom, spending time with the family, money probably will come up. Words like working all night long probably don’t.
Don’t forget to schedule time for the important things in life. Your family. Relaxation. Giving back.
Don’t lose sight of the important things in life while rushing to resolve the immediate things.
Lesson Learned #7:
You’ve got other things to do too!
Don’t spend all your time on work. Remember when creating (and recreating) the schedule that you need to spend time on other things. Things that are more important.
When you start planning to do something like this there is a tendency to think you can spend all your time on the project.
And a tendency to think that the business is going to stop while your are converting.
But that’s just not true. Unless you can get the the changeover done in one day, you still need to release blog entries. You still need to drive traffic. You still need to deal with work not yet complete.
All the little things that continue to need your time while you’re busy doing something else.
And don’t try to hold up the blog. Remember it is a key source of traffic and without traffic you don’t have a business. So keep the blog going.
Lesson Learned #6:
Don’t Forget That The Business Is Going Ahead Without You
Even though you’re busy trying to change some element of the business you need to allocate time to the business.
You need to keep up blogs and other traffic sources. You need to keep your new courses and continuity programs going.
So don’t forget to allocate time for ongoing operations. And don’t try to shut down anything.
One of the problems with being a Project Manager is that I’m supposed to know how to organize tasks so that they get done. That includes a healthy dose of “”what happens if”. Known formally as Risk Management. Known informally as, “How am I going to get myself out of it when the effluvium hits the rotary air handling device?”
Of course, for a client I would never dream of doing even the smallest project without at least a minimal bit of project management.
For myself it’s another story entirely.
Which is what went wrong with this project.
Now, I admit that this project was struck by a somewhat excessive number of shizzle floods (movements ???? Or is that too obvious?). My partner became unavailable just when I needed him. I got sick. My entire family got sick. We ended up taking care of a friend who was recovering (poorly) from an operation. A large number of the templates ended up not working (including this one btw). Conversion was a problem. Things happened without warning and out of order.
As a result this took much longer than I would have expected. Even given that it was a learning experience and with all the problems encountered.
Mind you I might be just expecting too much…..
(BTW … risk is often misunderstood to be a negative. It isn’t. That’s a threat or a potential loss. A risk is the potential for an unexpected situation to occur. The situation could be negative BUT it could also be positive. So finding the perfect solution right off the bat was also a risk. In fact, I discovered the perfect themes right away … except that it wouldn’t work for what we were trying to do. If I could have used them I wouldn’t be writing this series at all! Now I need to figure out how to use them later…)
Lesson Learned #5:
Be Prepared … aka Shizzle happens!
No matter how small the project, it is important to spend some time doing risk management. What could go wrong? How will it impact the project? What can be done to overcome or avoid it? How likely is it to occur?
There are four risk events that appeared in this project:
- What if key people aren’t available, have their time severly restricted or aren’t functioning at peak?
- What happens if secondary people aren’t available, have their time severly restricted or aren’t functioning at peak?
- What happens if software doesn’t work as expected?
- What happens if things occur out of order or sooner than expected?
Learn & Earn!
Due to reasons beyond our control, much of this conversion ended up on my shoulders.
Ignore the amount of work involved. Yes, it would have been nice and we would have been up sooner with less pain. But that’s not the big advantage of working with a partner.
The big advantage is having a second pair of eyes.
You’ll notice that I’ve said several times that there are a lot of very talented web designers out there. Yeah, well they’re all producing multiple great designs.
Quite frankly, there is an embarassment of riches out there for free or almost free! The problem is choosing which design(s) to use as the base – and how to tweak the design. That’s where a partner is most useful.
Start by creating a list of designs that you like. Let your partner go through the list and select out the designs that they like. Then repeat until you are down to one design. One trick is to drop 1/3 of the designs each time. So let’s say you start with 12 designs. Your partner would pick the 8 designs they like the best. Then you would pick the 6 designs you like best. And so on.
There are also a number of other decisions that are helped by a second point of view — from structure to widgets to other software. Having a partner to discuss problems, and arbitrary decisions is invaluable.
A business partner is best, but even if you don’t have a business partner, a spouse or trusted friend is better than trying to go it alone.
Lesson Learned #4:
Two Heads Are Better Than One
Don’t overestimate the value of a second point of view.
There will be many times that you will become overwhelmed with the number of choices available to you.
Some of those choices are mostly arbitrary or esthetic in nature.
And yet, you still need to make the best choice you can.
That’s when a partner is invaluable. Someone to argue with you over a solution. To make choices based on their esthetics. To just be someone other than yourself.
The obvious solution if you want to tweak WordPress themes (looking like everyone else is kind of cheesy) is to buy a software package that generates themes.
Sounds great. And there are some out there that do it.
But again there’s a big variation in the quality of both the artistic and programming sides.
So that means you are going to have to spend some time evaluating the packages. Do they meet your needs? Can you select all the different formats you need? Can you add new formats? Do the menus work? Does the display work for all browsers?
And once again you’ll need to evaluate. Am I better spending programmer and artist time cross checking the package. Or would I be better developing a package myself?
Lesson Learned #3:
Custom – Package; Custom – Package; Only your developer will know for sure
There are a lot of tool packages out there to design WordPress (and other) themes. And a lot of tool packages to design.
Unfortunately, a lot of them are pretty pathetic. Both in flexibility and quality – technical and artistic.
But for $100 or so it may just make sense.
Unfortunately, you will still need to evaluate the quality of the theme. So be prepared to spend money to have a developer evaluate the package output for you.
Also don’t forget to review your requirements. Specifically can the package be customized (either through plug-ins or widgets) to implement your requirements. If you need 3 sidebars and the package only allows two you are going to have a problem!
And be sure to check the price of doing it according to Lesson Learned #2. You may find that getting it done once professionally may be cheaper than modifying the package output.
So I’ve gone looking through all these themes and what do I find?
Lots of really talented web designer/artist types. With zero ability to develop web programs.
I also found (almost) zero theme’s that matched my needs — artistically or functionally.
In fact, the only theme I found that I liked was so limited that I couldn’t use it and couldn’t adapt it – at least not without a major rewrite.
And while it’s nice … it ain’t got that special thang!
So I’m going to end up going through this process all over again. Fortunately, not as extensively.
So what’s the solution?
First break the problem into two parts. After all, it’s going to take two different specialists to solve the problem. The artist/designer to look after the overall graphics look. And the web developer who makes sure all the php and xhtml and other bits and pieces actually work. Especially the menus.
WordPress is very powerful. It’s very flexible. But it does do only one thing and does it in a particular way. There’s only so many choices that make sense. Unless of course you are really creative in your business. And the truth is there’s no point. This is a business tool not a personal toy.
That means that there are perhaps 1/2 dozen different variations on layouts for the WordPress theme. Plus a half dozen or so menu possibilities.
Spend some time, identify the ones you like and will use. For example, all the ones that have a left sidebar are out. Why? Because Google doesn’t like left sidebars. So there’s no point designing one. (Yes, there are exceptions — this is an example only).
You’ll end up with a selection of basic templates. You should also end up with a basic set of requirements/needs. Hire a web developer and have him/her develop a theme for each of those templates you may want to use. You may find that you end up with only one or two templates.
Then hire an artist/designer to design the overall graphical look. Have him design several screens. Don’t forget to include both static web and blog type pages. Once those designs are converted to CSS, you should be able to plug the design into the theme you’ve chosen.
Result. You’ve now got a quality theme with a look that shouts “BUY FROM ME!”
Lesson Learned #2:
If you’re going to do this regularly … spend some money and get some designs done in advance.
It’s a lot easier/faster to get a site up if you don’t have spend time figuring out which theme is best. And then have to test the theme to make sure it actually works.
So better to spend some money. Get a developer to put together a basic framework or three. Keep it flexible. Keep it simple. Make it easy to modify.
Then hire an artist to put together a number of pages for you (meaning colour schemes, background art, and banners. All the graphics you will need).
Then when you start a new business or change an existing one, just select the form, select the theme and put them together.
Nice, easy, simple. In the end cheaper too!