Note from Jane: Today’s guest post is adapted from How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time, by Nina Amir (@NinaAmir), published by Writer’s Digest Books.
Here’s a bit of information the book industry doesn’t like to reveal: Books don’t provide a huge source of income. In fact, most authors, with the exception of those who consistently hit the bestseller lists, supplement their book royalties with additional sources of income that may or may not be related to their publishing efforts.
As an author who has just produced or may be in the process of producing amazing amounts of content, you have a great advantage: You can turn all that content into money-making products. These “information products” can provide you additional income and a business that revolves around your book. This strategy also works for long-time bloggers who are often sitting on as much information as a book would contain.
What Are “Information Products”?
Information products provide consumers with the information they need or want, solve problems, offer expert advice, educate, or in some way provide a service, tip, or tool.
Whether you have a book or a blog, you have a treasure trove of content. You can repurpose the content into special reports, videos, recordings (MP3s, CDs, or DVDs), e-books, workbooks, teleseminars, webinars, home-study courses, or online courses. You also can create related services, such as coaching and consulting.
Types of Information Products
What types of information products might you create? Here’s a quick list.
1. Tip Sheets or Booklets
Do you offer a lot of tips on your blog or in your book? Pull these into a tip sheet that consists solely of beneficial advice in little snippets. Include twenty tips on a page, and convert it into a PDF. Or compile thirty days’ worth of tips or one hundred tips and turn this into a short book or booklet. If you have a bit more to say, consider producing a tip booklet that offers one tip per page with a little bit of copy explaining the tip. You can publish them inexpensively as a PDF, an e-book, or a printed and saddle-stitched (stapled) booklet.
2. Special Reports
These are short, informative documents, usually under ten pages, on one highly focused topic. Often they are written for professionals. For example, I created one on how to build author platform; I used to give it away to those who signed up for my mailing list, but now I sell it for $10. I created it out of several blog posts I edited together, along with a little extra copy to flesh it out. Create a cover, and you’re in business. (Explore services like Canva for free or inexpensive ways to create cover art.)
For special reports, consider what your readers want or need to know. What problem can you solve for them? What could you tell them in a few short pages? Maybe something interesting, new, or newsworthy has happened that relates to your book or blog; this could be additional content used for a special report.
3. Audio and Video Recordings
You can create educational videos or audio recordings and sell them. I highly recommend you videotape or record almost everything you do—teleseminars, webinars, workshops, Google Hangouts on Air, speeches, and radio interviews. You then can sell them or use them as information products.
Creating audio recordings is simple: Purchase a decent digital recorder, and record yourself reading blog posts, talking about your book, or telling people how to do different things related to the topic of your blog or book. You can also record on your computer or smartphone (but purchase a good mic). Aside from selling the recordings (in CD or digital form), you also can upload some as blog posts so people can listen to them, and upsell readers on additional audio recordings are available for sale.
4. Self-Study Courses and Online Education
If your book lends itself to teaching, demonstrations, or classes, combine your written material with your audio and video to create self-study or online courses. Workbooks are also popular, either as stand-alone instruction or as part of teleseminars, workshops, or coaching. People are willing to pay more money for online education than for books.
5. Coaching and Consulting
If your book or blog teaches people how to do something, or if it focuses on some sort of system for accomplishing a task or goal, consider providing coaching and consulting services. (By the way, if you want to do this, get a book out right away. Nothing will give you more credibility as an expert than becoming a book author.)
6. Short Books
Short books are increasingly your ticket to branding, expert status, platform, customers and clients, and cash. We’re not talking a magnum opus—you can produce 4,000- to 20,000-word e-books for Kindle. Just as you plan out a longer book (or a series of blog posts), do the same for your short books. You can also repurpose a blog post series into a short book.
I did this with my book 10 Days and 10 Ways to Return to Your Best Self: A T’shuvah Tool Bridging Religious Traditions. I took ten blog posts I’d written as a series, added an introduction and conclusion, edited the copy, and then tacked on some promotional material for my other short books at the end. When done, I had a 72-page book I printed on a short-run digital press and then at CreateSpace as well.
Think about how easy it becomes to produce books from blogged content if you plan those posts as a series you know you will turn into a book.
7. Membership Sites and Continuity Programs
If you’ve ever purchased a course and needed login credentials to access it, that information product likely was hosted on a membership site. If you’ve joined a membership site, such as Michael Hyatt’s Platform University, all the information, including the forum, is provided via a membership site.
If you decide to create a variety of courses or to produce a continuity program such as a “university,” an association, or an organization that requires yearly or monthly payment to become a member, you need a membership site plugin. A variety of them exist, such as Wishlist, MemberPress, MemberMouse, and Magic Members, to name just a few. These plugins provide you with password-protected pages and landing pages that allow you to place all your content—videos, audio recordings, workbooks, reports, forums, etc.—in a secure place that only those who pay can access.
Any of the aforementioned informational products can become giveaways to help you build your mailing list. Or you can simply excerpt material from your blogged book as a free enticement to sign up. It’s best if you package it as something new and interesting, or add a video or audio element.
The Technical Aspect
You of course need a mechanism for selling your information products. You can create a page on your website with a shopping cart system so readers or visitors can purchase these items any time, day or night, by downloading them. You may want to sign up for a service like 1ShoppingCart.com so an auto-responder sends the purchased items immediately, or simply use PayPal and send them out manually. You also can use E-junkie or ClickBank. These services deliver digital downloads. Like PayPal, they provide a code you place on your site that creates “buy buttons,” and the rest is handled via their services.
Marketing and Promoting Your Information Products
No matter what type of products and services you choose to produce, be sure you promote them well. Most membership plugins offer templates or ways to create sales pages, or splash pages. You might want to invest in something like LeadPages, which offers professional templates.
Just as you launch a book, you launch your products and services for the best results. To learn more about this, read Jeff Walker’s Launch and generally educate yourself on how to succeed as an online marketer.
All the products mentioned here—and many others that I have not mentioned—work for you night and day, 24/7, if you set up an effective storefront. It’s a way to leverage your knowledge.
To find out more about writing, publishing and promoting your work online, check out How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time, by Nina Amir.