If You Aren’t Yet Into Knowledge Products And Knowledge Commerce, You Should Be
Everybody has some knowledge that others may like to have. When you package the knowledge you have into an ebook, a video tutorial, a webinar, a whitepaper or a self-assessment quiz, you “productize” the knowledge in a way that can be sold.
Since most people come to the Internet seeking information about something or the other, most knowledge products online are digital. They can be consumed only through electronic devices like laptops, tablets or mobiles.
Till about a couple of years ago, people used to talk about “ecommerce of information products”. Now they have a more elegant name for this type of business. It’s called “Knowledge Commerce”. That’s how we too like to call it at Solohacks Academy. Knowledge Commerce is expected to hit $325 billion by 2025.
The time to start building your knowledge store is now …
1. The Big Three Among Knowledge Products That Also Sell The Most
Almost every knowledge marketer prefers to begin his product-creation brainstorming with the Big Three Items that sell the most – Ebooks, Courses and Membership Sites. Let’s see each of these knowledge formats in a bit of detail …
a. Ebooks, Edocs, Guides And Whitepapers
The easiest forms of knowledge products to produce are written documents. These could be in the form of Ebooks, Edocs, Whitepapers or Guides. All these are just named differently depending on what the length of the product is, and what kind of knowledge it covers. For example, an Ebook could have, say, 10 chapters or so on a focused topic, while an Edoc may be just a chapter or two long, highlighting a strategic point. A Whitepaper may contain more technical knowledge, whereas a Guide may be an exhaustive textbook type of format covering the full depth and breadth of a large topic.
Not always are Ebooks sold. They can also be given free as lead magnets to attract subscribers to your mailing list. Or the price of an Ebook may be deliberately kept at a minimum so it can act as a relationship-starter with a buyer who could buy your bigger-priced products.
Ebooks are often visualized as if they are physical products, although they are not really so. They are purely digital products. An Ebook may be illustrated as a book with a cover and pages. But, in fact, it may eventually just be a PDF file, with some cover design on the first page. Ebooks are usually read on laptops, tablets, mobiles or other special electronic book-readers.
b. Video-Based Short and Long Courses And Tutorials
One of the fastest and most popular ways to stamp your authority as an expert in your knowledge area is to offer a course. Online learning via courses is in itself a hugely growing field. Thinkific, a leading online course-creation platform, says: “By teaching your topic, you are leaving no shadow of a doubt that you know what you’re talking about, you’re good at what you do, and that you are an expert in your field. The online course is now as essential to any entrepreneur, expert or thought leader’s toolbox, as a website and business card.”
Research firm GM Insights says online courses could exceed $240 billion by 2023. Some knowledge entrepreneurs like to create their courses on Udemy (a dedicated global marketplace for courses by various experts). Others prefer to host their courses on their own websites. If you use Udemy, you have traffic, but you also have competition in the same marketplace. If you host your own course, you have to work to bring in traffic, but people will focus on your course and its advantages without comparing you to others.
When you create courses you have choices of course length. Short courses are popular for quickly teaching hot topics, while longer ones may be attractive if they offer some certifications. The most popular type of courses are the “how-to” tutorials that demonstrate a technique or a process. You can show someone how to achieve something or do something by seeing you do it … and people find that far more useful than seeing a video lecture on a topic.
c. Creating Memberships Sites With Tiers of Access To Knowledge Content
A membership site is a “gated part” of your online business – only members who subscribe can access the content you’ve placed behind a “gate (aka “paywall” or “protected area”). Once you’ve got that access barrier in place, your members can log in and access exclusive content, and even be part of a community of other members. Membership sites typically offer different levels of membership, paid for as monthly subscriptions.
The idea behind membership sites as a Knowledge Commerce product is this. Maybe you have a good number of ebooks, short courses, templates, and worksheets. Your customers may want all this in pick-and-choose doses. It’s like eating at a buffet. There’s a good spread of content and you can choose items of interest to you.
With membership sites, you have lots of members paying you a small fee every month. This could make your income more reliable. It may also help you stop trading your time for money, as in consulting or coaching. You can use your time to create more products, so your members’ library grows in value.
2. Handy Tools And Aids To Spur Ideas Or Shorten Workloads
There is always a demand for handy aids and tools like templates, checklists, worksheets, resource lists, calculators, apps … and so on. These have perennial appeal because they provide quick ways for people to work, aside from helping them brainstorm ideas. They are also easy to create at speed for the marketer.
a. Templates For Every Type Of Process You Recommend Are Very Useful
One of the reasons templates are so popular is because they give your customers two advantages: one, they show a customer all the elements that need to go into a process; and two, they give the customer something he can customize and use quickly instead of going through the whole process by himself. For example, if you sold templates to help plan “blog posts”, you give both – an idea of all that a blog post should contain, plus some ready-to use outlines that a customer could readily adapt to his blogging needs.
When you are selling templates, though, people are seldom ready to buy just one template. They like to see a variety of different templates as a bundle, for the price they pay. So make sure you have plenty of different template options for them to feel like they’ve bought real value.
When you are selling templates also make sure they don’t need fancy software to adapt your templates. You could give templates that can be customized in Microsoft Word or in Microsoft Powerpoint. If, on the other hand, you give Photoshop templates, most customers would balk – because very few would be using the expensive Photoshop software or know how to edit or produce special effects with the software.
b. Checklists, Worksheets And Resource Lists Aid Brainstorming
There are fine distinctions between Checklists, Worksheets And Resource Lists. Checklists are useful tools when you want to help customers tick off a to-do list of tasks to get a job done. For example, if you were teaching them to start a business, there are a lot of complex interlinked activities involved. So a checklist that sequences their activities for them, and helps them tick off as they complete each task, would be very useful.
Worksheets encourage deep thinking on strategy issues. Let’s say you are helping customers brainstorm on their “mission statements”. They need to think hard about this topic, and do competitive research. Your worksheet could contain a list of questions to ask of themselves to articulate ideas in their minds. Your worksheet could also prompt them to pick five points of strength for each of their competitors. In a sense, your worksheets help people “do their homework in writing” in a systematic way before making decisions.
Resource lists are actually lists of tools and apps and software that people can use to complete a task. Let’s say, you are teaching people how to create their websites. There could be many tools to aid this that they never knew of. Tools to plan the web content, tools to help site design, tools that provide readymade copy for mandatory site policy pages, tools that help visualize brand identity, tools to help SEO blogging, and so on. If you sold a ready “website design tool kit” with links to all the key apps, software and tools they could use, it would be a mighty good expert-recommended collection. It saves people the need to search for tools themselves, and then suffer from the wrong ones.
c. Guided Do-It-Yourself Projects
The idea of Guided DIY projects could be applied to almost any process where you may like to mentor or coach people as your knowledge-consulting service. It’s just that you oversee their steps of action and course-correct them if they are going the wrong way. Let’s take the example that you are teaching people how to write books and get them published. You can make them do the work but give them periodic reviews for improvement. You can also hold them accountable for their schedule commitments. This is the schoolmaster approach. Many solopreneurs like to have mentors when they lack self-discipline to get key tasks done.
The other kind of Guided DIY Projects are like Vistaprint’s “design your own visiting cards with our instructions” product. People are given all the elements they need to design their visiting cards and stationery themselves, along with step-by-step instructions as they proceed.
Remember to give people an introductory video or explanation on the workload they’d have to commit to for seeing final results. Expectation-management is key to any Guided DIY Projects. People shouldn’t end up badmouthing your product just because they were not prepared well in advance to handle what it takes.
3. Event-Based Knowledge Products That Create Both Buzz And Sales
Among these types of knowledge products, the popular variations are Webinars, Workshops, Mastermind Classes, Group Q & A Sessions, and Virtual Summits. People like attending these because it feels like a break from daily routines, and lets them feel part of the success-driven crowd, keeping up with trends that hot and current.
a. Webinars Are Immensely Popular And You Can Make Them “Evergreen” Too
Webinars are almost similar to “one-topic course modules”, but the difference is that they last anywhere between 45 minutes to 1 hour. They generally involve a speaker explaining the many salient points of the topic. The idea here is to make webinars a special event (maybe, by offering only a limited number of sessions, or a limited number of seats per session). Pre-register attendees, and offer depth-value on a topic.
Most often marketers use webinars as free sessions to sell other items such as expensive courses. But if the webinar topic is really valuable, you can sell webinar seats quite easily, and use webinars to earn. You have to remember to create a lot of before-buzz and after-flurry to make a webinar sound like a hot unmissable event.
Did you know that you can have an “evergreen webinar” that you record once but repeat every now and again as if it were a live webinar? There are evergreen webinar creator tools that even simulate a side panel of discussions and comments as if you had live attendees, whose queries you could answer in your webinar.
b. Workshops, Mastermind Sessions And Group Q & A Sessions Encourage Engagement
Subtle differences distinguish Workshops from Mastermind Sessions And Group Q & A Sessions. In a Workshop, you can invite people to supply their problem situations to you to solve in front of other attendees. Say, you have picked someone’s topic request on how to minimize image file sizes and make them more web-friendly with Photoshop. You advertise this Workshop date and time and sell seats. Your session then becomes a show-and-tell. Let people “look over your shoulder” as you teach the solution to the customer query.
Mastermind Sessions are like group brainstorming live events. Someone has a paucity of ideas, say, for ways to keep customer loyalty. You may then decide to run a Mastermind to find a solution. Invite other people with a similar problem to attend for a fee, and then let all the attendees brainstorm together to generate a lot of ideas and cross-fertilize what they all know. You become the moderator, keeping the brainstorming on a result-oriented agenda.
In Group Q & A Sessions, you set a topic for the event and invite customer queries around it. Participants are then asked to pay and attend a Group Q & A when all their queries are addressed by you. People who attend not only get their queries answered, but also benefit from the answers you give to others’ queries. The topic gets thrashed threadbare.
c. Virtual Summits Can Be Huge Events Depending On Who You Get As Guest-Speakers
Virtual Summits are the mother-of-all online events. They are like physical conferences where a number of eminent guest speakers are invited to speak on a topic and there are in-between interactive sessions with the attendee audiences. Needless to say, the quality of the guest speakers will depend on your own brand equity – and dictate the prices you can set for attendees.
You can’t spend such a lot of time, as Virtual Summits require, every now and again. They could be annual events you host. But when you plan these you have to really work hard at getting the best experts and fill all the seats. There has to be a lot of pre-launch energy and buzz, a lot of PR activity, and the guest speakers must also feel like it will worth their time and reputation to participate.
If you do this well, you can make a tradition of your annual event and get people to “save the date”. Over time, as demand for seats to your event increases, your prices can rise thus helping limit the attendees to the actual event to the seats you have. For other people, you can later offer a recording of the event at a fee.
In Summary …
- What used to be called “ecommerce of information products” is now elegantly called “Knowledge Commerce”
- The idea is to “productize” your unique knowledge in different delivery formats, so you can sell these.
- The Big Three ways to productize your unique knowledge are Ebooks, Courses and Membership Sites.
- You can also sell smaller but more useful tools like Worksheets, Checklists, Resource Lists, Tool Kits.
- Among hosted events there are options like Webinars, Mastermind Sessions or even Virtual Summits.
- Start small – and then grow your repertoire as you grow your brand equity online.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce 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.
Related Articles From Our “Understanding The Basics & Power Of Knowledge Commerce: Guide”
- What Is Knowledge Commerce? Why Is It A Red-Hot Business Right Now?
- How Can Solopreneurs Benefit Big From Knowledge Commerce?
- What Are Solopreneurs’ Biggest Challenges In Knowledge Commerce?
- What Are The Inhibiting Myths For Knowledge Commerce Solopreneurs?
- What Is The Real Money-Making Potential Of Knowledge Commerce?
- What Are The Best Resources For Knowledge Commerce Solopreneurs?
- What Is The Roadmap To Follow For A Knowledge Commerce Business?
- What Skills Will You Need To Be Able To Handle Knowledge Commerce?
- Are There Good Case Studies Of Knowledge Commerce Marketers?