Written by: Steven Clayton, Guest Author
In Part 1 of this series, I discussed why moving from affiliate to vendor, or doing both at the same time, is a great idea. I also discussed how to pick a topic or niche. In this part, I’ll answer a couple of other common questions I get asked.
Don’t I have to Be an “Expert”?
This is something I talk about often with our customers who are starting a search engine management consulting business. They feel very insecure, as they think they have to be the most knowledgeable expert in this field in order to begin marketing their services. That’s simply not true.
In order to be valuable to someone (a customer), you simply need to possess information that they don’t. That’s it. Not ALL the information, or the LARGEST resource of information, or anything like that. Knowing more than your potential customer and being able to present that information to them creates the value.
This can even be true when you are less of an “expert” than your potential customer. Let me give you an example. I’m a complete home theater nut. Projectors, TV’s, Pre-amps, amplifiers, speakers, sound formats, Blu-ray, etc.
I consider myself an expert on all of these things. However, I haven’t had a lot of time to focus on the latest home theater craze: 3D. It would be VERY valuable for me to have someone prepare a report (an information product!) on the various standards, equipment, and integration techniques for this technology. This is called information or content aggregation, and it’s essentially a research project. It just requires going through all of the available information online and in print, etc., and aggregating (summarizing) all of the content out there in one cohesive package. This would create a highly valuable product for an expert like me, and could easily be researched and created by a non-expert.
Can I outsource this so I don’t have to do it all myself?
Information products are excellent candidates for outsourcing. You can outsource the entire thing, or just the pieces you want help on. There are many people that make a full time living online creating information products for people. These are people that truly enjoy research and writing and the whole creation process, rather than trying to find ideas and markets and trying to sell their own products. The key is to find out the parts of information product creation that you enjoy and that you’re good at (very often the same!). These are the steps to do yourself, and the others are perfect for getting others to do them for you.
How do I outsource ?
The first challenge is to find a place where there are contractors waiting to do work for someone like yourself. There are several options, but we find the best overall place to go is Elance. The quality is very high, and there are plenty of choices there.
When picking someone to work with, I recommend you pick a person that specializes in creating information products, and someone that has a portfolio of examples you can examine to determine their quality level. This is not to say that someone completely new wouldn’t be able to do a good job, but you have to ask yourself if you have the time to risk your project to a complete unknown. Usually, it’s better to pay an experienced person a bit more to lower your risk.
One thing everyone wants to know about is cost, so I’ll give you an example. We recently outsourced a whole information product that required a lot of research (50 page ebook and a 1000 word sales script) for about $750 USD. This will give you some idea of the cost. It’s incredibly reasonable, and only takes a few sales to make your money back.
The biggest thing to focus on during the outsourcing process is managing expectations. The key is to ensure that you know what you want, that your outsourcer knows what you want, and that he/she can deliver what you want in the timeframe specified at the appropriate cost. This is harder than it may seem!
If you spend a LOT of time upfront specifying what you want, you can typically be successful in managing expectations.
Here are the things to focus on:
Deadlines – Make sure that the work can be completed in the timeframe by which you need it.
Chapter titles and summaries – This may seem like you’re having to do a lot of the work, but it’s time well spent. It doesn’t have to be the final version of the product, but the more you can give your outsourcer about what you expect, the better the whole process will be. You can be clear that they can still exercise their creative powers (that’s one of the reasons you’re hiring them) and make changes, but it’s a starting point for both of you to work from.
Voice, tone and style – In some markets, a casual or fun tone and writing style is important. In others, you need a more serious one. Make sure your outsourcer knows what you’re looking for.
Overview of the audience – Give your outsourcer as much detail as you can about the potential audience. This will only help them as they craft your product.
100% original content – Make very clear that you need original content. Research from sources is just fine, of course, but the finished product MUST be their own work product.
Specify font size, margin size and spacing (and/or just use word count) – A 50 page document can be a very small amount of content if the fonts are huge and lots of spacing is used! Ensure that you’re getting the amount of content you’re paying for.
Table of contents/Index – Do you want or need these?
Check in regularly – Don’t wait until the product is completed to check on progress. Request regular updates over the life of the project and check each chapter as it’s done. This will ensure that you’re on the same page.
Revision policy – Ask and make sure you understand what the creator’s revision policy is. What if you don’t like what’s being done? How many times and what scope can you change and still stay at the same price point?
These are the biggest things to get correct up front and to track during product development. In order to help, here’s an example (PDF / Word) of the product spec sheet that we use to communicate back and forth with outsourcers.
These tips on getting started and outsourcing should help get you on your way to creating a great product, but check back tomorrow for the final part, when I’ll talk about how to get affiliates to promote your product!
Update: Part 3 is now available!
About the Author
Steven Clayton and his partner Tim Godfrey are the creators of a number of best selling information products in the Internet marketing niche, along with many other markets. Their Info Prodigy course (teaching how to create and market information products) is currently closed to new members, but you can get on the waiting list and get a free and very detailed 26 page report that gives away even more secrets right here. In addition, don’t forget to sign up at www.blueprintaffiliates.com to see excellent examples of affiliate resource pages.