Digital info-products are among the most profitable business lines for solopreneurs in content marketing. These products are best described as any products that are delivered electronically, usually via download or some secure membership website. For example, an ebook in a PDF format, a video on a password-protected site, or an audio recording downloaded from your website are all examples of digital info-products.
What can you create as saleable digital info-products? Many marketers are disdainful of writing and selling ebooks or courses at small prices. But they don’t realize the immense value behind small sales in their overall Content Marketing Strategy. That’s why this article covers not just the sales you can do of big-ticket digital info-products like $1000 courses, but the small “tripwire” sales you can do with small-ticket $5 digital info-products. Many a business empire has been built on this idea!
The best kinds of digital products cost nothing to produce – and earn for you even while you sleep
Digital info-products are defined as “useful information” to the consumer in all sorts of digitally and instantly downloadable formats … a video, an ebook, an audio, an online course, a webinar, a membership website. But remember, despite the name, people don’t want simply information. People crave tips and strategies for making their life and business better. They want guidance. And that’s what the best information products provide.
More than the fact that you can profit enormously by creating digital info-products, is the fact the people online love them. They are so instantly downloadable (no waiting for the goods to arrive!) that everybody’s “instant gratification itches” are satisfyingly scratched!
What does it take to produce these digital info-products? Well, almost nothing if you can write … and then add in well-picked stock images for the cover art. At the most, thereafter, you have to be able to save your written stuff into a “protected PDF” or make it into videos. (There’a s great new tool called Lumen5 that automatically converts written stuff to outstanding videos. Try it!)
If you are fairly expert at writing, and you are an an average-to-good all-rounder in image editing, PDF creation and video adaptation of text, most of your digital info-products will cost next to nothing to produce. If you further sell it from your own site, you have no costs except the small commissions docked by your payment services provider (like Paypal) – and the rest of it is all profit.
Even if you sell nothing, what does it matter? If it costs you nothing but time and ideas to produce these digital info-products, the risks of earning back your money spent simply aren’t there. You can afford to create and create and create … and wait for sales to start happening when traffic and traction to your site increase!
What if you throw in a “full money-back guarantee” if customers are not happy with the product? Again, it will make customers uber-happy … but to you, what’s the big deal? A wee bit more lost in the refunding of the money earned, again payable to the payment services provider. That’s it. Have you lost a physical book or a physical DVD that a customer has not returned? Nope!
What if a dodgy customer sends the product to his friends by email after he reads it, and they all get it without paying? It seldom happens, that’s the truth. How many people do you know, to whom you you are desperate to send an ebook you downloaded for $17 (or whatever the price)? What are the odds you have 25 friends in exactly the same business predicament as you, to whom that pirated ebook will solve all problems? And are you going to go to all that trouble to email all those folks, just to get the thrill of cheating the seller?
Hardly anyone really does it, and even if they do, there are ways to protect the e-goods. One of the smartest things you can do is to offer something extra to an ebook buyer that can be availed only once per purchase order, and you’ll nail most of the long line of “pirates”. If in spite of all your “protection”, there are still those that find a way to duck-and-dodge, they deserve the ebook for ingenuity, don’t you think?
Further, of all digital info-products, the ones that generate “passive income” for you are considered the greatest sources of revenue online. If, for example, you were to offer consulting services to clients, there is a limit to your own time and energy – and earning capacity.
Whereas if you were to convert your consulting expertise into a “passive course” that anyone could sign up for and self-learn, your customers can order products any time of the day or night, from anywhere across the world. They can get their product instantly, without you even knowing or being involved in the transaction. It’s money earned while you sleep.
Sure, you may have to handle some small aspects like customer service and keep an eye on the sales. But it’s much less hassle than having to keep track and send out orders. Think of the “limitlessness” of how many times you can sell the course, to how many thousands of people who may buy and learn from it, without your having to do anything?
8 ways to create digital info-products if you are stymied for your own ideas
Not all solopreneurs want to write tons of blog posts and then turn their hands to writing full ebooks or courseware, right? Did you know there are tons of ingenious ideas for those who want to create info-products of great value without burning the midnight oil? Here are eight ideas you can try …
Revamp Private Label Rights (PLR) products. Some very old ebooks, that the authors are no longer interested in marketing, are sold at dirt-cheap prices, for resale with rights. When you buy these most of these, they initially seem to have either dated information or repetitive information. But if you buy many titles on the same topic, you often find you can either revamp them, or collate them into a freshly relevant new ebook, that you can put your name to and sell as your own. You can check out sites like Master Resale Rights for some ideas.
Translate a good ebook into another language. There’s good money in translations these days. Ebooks translated into Chinese are apparently becoming a huge market in China.
Interview experts on various topics and collate their views. You can have both recorded interviews or textual interviews. Also make sure your topic is juicy enough to extract great opinions on, and the interviewees are also excited enough about the topic to participate. Collect all views and make an ebook, or a video series.
Choose a topic for your ebook and “pinch” exceptional paragraphs of great writing on the topic by a host of bloggers who agree or disagree with the topic. Intersperse the textual tidbits of such pinched “quotes” with YouTube videos on the same topic, produced by vloggers (video bloggers). Choose short videos of 4-5 minutes, or cull video clips from longer rambling videos. Give credits to the authors of all these pieces as you string them all together as a medley you can sell – in different formats.
Instead of pinching from articles, take a bunch of questions asked on Quora around a topic. Check the answers many people have given. Take all the points together and rewrite the questions and their answers. Collate all the Q&A you’ve created in a fresh format, to create your own info-product on a topic titled as “the 10 most asked questions about …..”
Send a survey of ten questions on a topic to a bunch of “industry experts” or “connections from LinkedIn. Compile your analysis of responses and publish your survey. However informal a survey, people (especially other marketers) always want to know what audiences think on various topics.
Next time you are learning to use a tool or trying to search for something online, record your screencapture and voice. Someone else may find it very useful if you’ve explained a process by showing it in action, and you can post a “How To Video” for a price.
Make cheat sheets by the dozens by compiling listicles by others. List posts abound on the Net. Take any topic and you’ll find people giving you 4 key points, or 6 best points, or 25 rare points. Gather all these “points”, and bunch the points together into groups that make logical sense. Then offer them all as a mega roundup of 50 points.
You get the gist … don’t you? Necessity is the mother of invention. When you run dry of ideas, look around you. There are plenty of ideas just waiting to be restated, repurposed, reformatted or rewritten with a smack of your own style. How hard is that?
The big secret of the small tripwire sales you can make via your digital info-products
In digital marketing, there’s is this beautiful concept called the “tripwire”. It’s the analogy that comes from the electrical world described as “… a wire stretched close to the ground, working a trap, explosion, or alarm when disturbed and serving to detect or prevent people or animals entering an area.”
The military also uses the word tripwire to describe “… a comparatively weak military force employed as a first line of defence, engagement with which will trigger the intervention of stronger forces.”
In other words, you, as a small brand marketer don’t have to wait to nurture and woo and cajole your potential target audiences for long, fallow periods to sell them your big product or service (maybe your high-priced course?) … you can aim to sell them small opening products (low-priced ebooks?) that reset their mental image of you and themselves and your relationship!
Just like a tripwire helps put people into a state of mind ready for the “bigger thing”, a series of small sales, especially via digital info-products, slowly growing in price-points, will help bridge that trust deficit so fast, that you will wonder why people say it takes so long to build trust!
There is one quote I especially love from my favorite expert, Neil Patel, who has described the big power of small “tripwire” sales:
Think of a tripwire like dating. If you ask a girl or a guy, a random stranger to marry you, what do you think they’re going to say? Chances are they’re going to end up saying no. The reason they’re going to say no, is because they don’t even know you. But if you ask a random stranger, “Hey would you like to go out for coffee?” there’s a much higher chance that they’ll say yes.
And if the coffee date goes well, then you may ask them for dinner, and if the dinner date goes well, you may go on a few more dates, do a few things with them. Then you may end up moving in together, then fast forward a few months, then you may continue dating for a year or two.
And then if you ask them to marry you, the chances of them saying yes are much higher. It’s “micro commitments”. By getting people to take small little actions, you’re much more likely to get them to say yes to your big core offer.”
Here’s a simple diagram that shows you how trust and sales and the time factor are linked. In the shorter duration, you need less customer trust to sell small things. But the important thing is that by changing the “prospective customer” into an “actual customer” you’ve changed the nature of the relationship you have with him.
You’ve also changed his perception of himself in relation to you, his perception of his experience in dealing with you, and his sense of “status” in your eyes. As time grows, you can have more and more trust built up – enough trust to make that bigger sale.
4 big changes that happen in a prospective customer’s mind when he becomes a “customer” of yours!
The customer stops comparison-shopping and grows towards brand loyalty with greater ease!
One of the big plus-points of getting a customer to buy smaller products from you before getting mentally ready to buy your flagship service or product is that with every “sale”, brand loyalty starts kicking in. Notice how even with a brand of toothpaste, you get into the habit of mindlessly buying the same brand unless competition is particularly aggressive in making you change your mind.
People are creatures of habit and brand loyalty too is a form of habit. Habits require less brain application and feel easier to do because you know the rigmarole involved in the process of buying. So if you strategize to sell small things to a customer and thus deepen the bond with the customer, you get the brand loyalty factor beginning to work in your favour.
Let’s take an example here: let’s say you have a course you’d like to sell which is your premium product. If you were to sell a free ebook on the same topic for a very small sum (say, just at a price of about $3 to $5), if the customer is really interested you will, firstly, get a surer signal that he’s in for a “buy”. Secondly, he will tend to want to validate his investment of that $5 … it’s human nature to self-justify even the smallest expenditure!
He will therefore get into the loop of searching the ebook for reasons why the course would be ideal to buy, so that his $5 spent was really worth it. He will start looking for reasons “why” and not reasons “why not”. And when he starts looking at your product with these “positive blinkers” on, he will stop comparison shopping, because after spending the initial amount on your brand, it seems like he’s throwing out his own investment – and has to begin all over again with someone else and his re-investment with that brand.
Trust is a progressive emotion and you can help create the trust continuum in the customer!
After you have sold your first small product, it pays to keep the momentum going with your “customer”. With every progressive sale, trust increases, and with every sale at a slightly higher price than before, trust also increases proportionately.
You may want to start with a few low-priced ebooks, then offer a slightly higher-priced webinar course, then a bigger priced course … and before you know it, the customer may be ready to invest in a much bigger purchase with you. It is entirely up to you to have enough products created at various price-points if you want to keep the hold on the customer.
You want him to stay in the buying cycle with you and get into a relationship that progressively feels more and more satisfying and self-validating! (Of course, you also have to ensure that every buying experience is top-notch!)
The customer no longer needs external validation when he has first-hand experience dealing with you!
This is a simple but very important point. Most people these days look for external validation of their brand purchases – like from the social media or their online network of friends and peers. So long as a person is not yet your “customer” he will look for external validation and even tend to agree with negative opinions as a form of self-restraint. But the minute he becomes a customer, no matter even if it’s a very tiny product bought from you, he will no longer want to hear contra-opinions that he has made a poor choice.
He is not defending your product against criticism, he is defending his own actions against criticism. So this is a very smart way for marketers to inure their customers against getting brainwashed negatively by the social circles.
You can help the customer progressively shorten his buying cycle with every small purchase!
Very few marketers realize that the buying cycle is tedious even for the customer. When he has to make big ticket purchases, there is a lot of effort needed even from his side – on research, testing and trials, forming good decisions and setting out budgets. The buying cycle often wearies marketers, but they need to realize, it wearies buyers even more.
Customers often find themselves trapped in a cycle of their own expectations, which becomes arduous. Think of yourself. How often have you been frustrated by your own meandering as a buyer going through a buying process?
When you offer tripwire products as small sales, you help the customer shorten his buying cycle, because “an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory”. The customer realises that by going through the small sale he has settled in his own mind many niggling doubts that may have called for a lot of reading and research on many vendors and their products and their reliability and their credibility.
You have answered his doubts and queries with a product, rather than by an endless to and fro via reading of many blog posts and endless emails.
Try this tripwire sales approach and you will find customers will be silently grateful for the small opportunities you are giving them, that make it so much easier to make big decisions. It’s natural for marketers to ask: Can a small product worth about $5 make such an impact on a customer? I know that skeptics will find it hard to believe, as will most customers themselves … but this behavior is psychologically true, apparently, even if a buyer will never admit to it, and a marketer may not readily buy into it.
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of content-marketer solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Marketing Strategy”:
- Micro Marketing … Going Granular Can Help Solopreneurs Grow Faster!
- The 7 T’s Content Strategy Method That’s Do-Able For Solopreneurs!
- 20 Questions That Can Help Shape Your Content Marketing Strategy!
- Steal Your Competitor’s Thunder With Your Content Marketing!
- How ToFu, MoFu And BoFu Content Helps Profit-Hungry Solopreneurs!
- Finding Your Niche Is Easy If You’re A Perceptive, Systematic Solopreneur!
- 4 Smarts For Content Marketers To Help With Competitive Analysis!