With information marketing you get to sell information products based on what you already know and other people want to find out. You’ve already learned the lessons, all the the ins and outs, you’re just putting a price tag on the understanding that you’ve built up. We all know how good it feels to think you’ve got a head start. I’ve learned that focusing on what you know gives you that head start.
The great advantage of this sector is how easy it is to get into. Production costs are low, you can work from home and no shipping is required – often all you have to offer is a download button. This is the definition of easy to scale.
The impact of information marketing on the rest of your business
Free information sites
A well understood business model on the internet is to give away information that people want to search for. Aim to publish in-depth reviews and analysis, interview experts, provide data in new formats. Of course it always helps to publish regularly like I’ve been doing lately :) What you’re doing with a free information site is creating a focused audience that you can market to. There may be possibilities to expand into related products and future developments too. The free information is the attraction that draws people to your site. As you might expect it’s the advertising (or other offering) alongside that builds your revenue stream.
The best example is Google itself. It has built a business around helping people search for the free information they’re trying to find.
Selling access to specialised information
Do you know things so valuable that people will pay to find out? If so it may be possible to market this information on your own site or find a company hiring experts to create specialised reports giving private access.
If you don’t have all the answers in your head perhaps you could collate many sources of information to create one place that people want to go. The information you’re selling does not have to be exclusive. The value you’re adding is compiling a database that’s more readily accessible.
Good examples of this business model are Consumer Reports and Which? They’ve built their success around charging for private access to reviews and test results.
If you can build a strong reputation in any field you could consider setting up as a consultant. The beauty of the internet is that even with a very narrow
skillset you can offer consulting services that cater for a narrow niche. Popular areas include servicing major websites (such as setting up an ebay shop, organising Pinterest boards or Facebook advertising), internet-related subjects (such as basic internet skills for particular user groups) or conducting a typically offline service using internet communication (such as online psychotherapy).
You can gain a taster in consulting using sites like elance.com or fiverr.com. An alternative approach would be to manage a website where you offer the services of other consultants for a suitable fee.
TeachingWhile a consultant usually works one on one, an online teacher can reach classes of thousands of students. Generally the threshold for teaching experience is low and the best-selling instructional materials are targeted at beginners. There may well be an area of your expertise which is very suitable for a teaching course.
If you have marketable skills and the ability to present yourself well you can create a course by assembling a collection of videos and e-books. You can either make this material available on your own private site, via email or tap into an existing system through sites such as Udemy. Udemy lets you set yourself up as a teacher straight away and handles the billing and administration as well as providing access to a pool of customers.
You’ll find many private sites across the internet offering courses alongside their main business, such as the Blogging Success Foundation course.
A useful tip to identify whether your skill is marketable is to search Google for ‘how to’ followed by the skill – if people are searching for it then there’s a market.
Selling virtual products
Virtual products are one of the least expensive ways to get started with online sales. A digital product can be distributed directly to the customer over the internet with nothing more than a download button. It might take time to create your product but when you’ve sold the first copy you still have the file to sell again.
This is such a popular route to an online income that there are many plugins and companies dedicated to helping with billing and administration, e.g. WP-Invoice (which I haven’t tried, and there are many others to choose from).
Myths you might have heard…
- Quick Riches? – overnight success does not happen… often.
- Fast money? – laying the foundation takes time.
- You Don’t Need Your Own Products? – you can make money selling affiliate products but for complete control you have to create your own.
- Don’t choose a competitive niche? – the more competition then the harder to get traffic, but if it’s competitive it also means there must be a huge demand.
We each prefer to consume information in one style over others. This means you should consider the format of your information product for the target market. Perhaps a simple change of format from written text to podcast is all it takes to open up a whole new market. The list of formats is endless so juggle these around to see what best fits your aims: video, text (which itself can be broken down into many formats including PDF or Kindle), subscription newsletters, private access to areas of a website.
It seems there’s a download button on every site you visit. To make your offering stand out you must consider the format that your visitors would most appreciate.
On the other hand I recall a job interview with a company that presented all it’s online information in PDF format because this is what its current clients preferred. But this left no juicy keywords for Google to find. The company couldn’t understand why it failed to appear in the search results.
Publishing books onlineThe internet has opened up a huge interest in independent publishing. In the past there were few ways to publish a book. Large publishing companies had almost exclusive access to the market. Online publishing tools such as Amazon Kindle didn’t exist. The public tended to see self-published books as lower quality. Now that perception has largely disappeared.20 or 30 years from now, there’s going to be some gizmo that kids carry around in their back pocket with everything in it – including our books if they want.Michael S. Hart (1998)
Now you can create a digital version of a book and sell it directly to customers through online retailers such as Amazon. You don’t need to pitch an idea to a publisher or print up thousands of copies. You’re free to write about what interests you for even the smallest niche. With ‘print on demand’ services from companies such as CreateSpace or Lulu you can have your book printed only as it’s ordered.
You can find ebook publishing in almost every sector of the internet. A good example to consider is Ryan Bidulph’s Blogging from Paradise ebooks which amounts to a huge volume of work that he distributes like a factory line on Amazon.
Information marketing comes in many forms so browse through these choices before you decide on your final route. Begin with examining the nature of the information that you want to share. Decide whether it would be more attractive to consumers in one chunk, such as a single ebook, or spread over a series of articles. Complex information may require more interaction from the customer, possibly better suited to a course or consultancy to tailor the product to their needs. You must also consider your own presentation preferences. If you’re daunted by the thought of teaching to a large group then all you have to do is start small. Perhaps your skills are in one-to-one communication across Skype? Or perhaps you’re skilled at writing?
Can you see how to use information marketing in your business?Any tips to share?