The best example of an information product is something you probably have (or used to have) in your car: a map. A map is simply a physical representation of highways, streets, intersections, and landmarks that tells you about a detailed but specific topic: how the roads in a certain area are laid out and intersect with each other. You then read and interpret the map to solve a specific problem -- namely, how to move from point A to point B. Your information products should work in a similar manner. You might organize a specific, complete set of information about a given topic, present it in a clear fashion, and collect money for distributing the information.
Finding hot topics
Which information should you sell? The answer varies, depending on your knowledge, experience, and goals. The topic of your information product is essential, so ask yourself a few questions to get started:
What am I good at?
Suppose you're at a party or get-together and a friend or an acquaintance hears about your job and life story and asks, "Hey, how did you do such-and-such?" or "What did you need to know to get that opportunity?" That's a source for your information product.
If your life experience has trained you to excel at a difficult topic, such as assembling a complicated piece of equipment or laying out an interior design for a new home, you can capture and record that experience to help others and profit from the experience. People pay for experience all the time -- if they didn't, every consultant in the world would be out of a job!
What are people having problems with?
If you notice that a number of people are having the same problem in one area, an information product to help solve that problem can be quite profitable.
Sometimes, the information is out there but it's hard to find, it's packaged poorly, or it isn't explained well. For example, someone who had attended driving school for a traffic violation found out how to legally challenge traffic tickets in court, exploit the most common loopholes that cause tickets to be dismissed, and inform drivers of all their legal rights when investigating and disputing traffic tickets. He wasn't a born expert, but he learned what he needed to know and made money by presenting that information in an organized and clear fashion.
What areas of service does my business provide?
Sometimes, the best way to explain what your business does is to transfer some key functions or knowledge areas of your business into an information product, and use it to introduce clients to your business or get noticed in your community.
Real Estate agents commonly package small information packets describing the top 10 things that new homeowners should look for in new homes. By distributing this packet, an agent can provide instant value to a potential client, show experience in an area, and, hopefully, gain some business beyond what the packet explains.
Personal focus groups
Put together a focus group consisting of your family members and friends. Ask them which books they bought recently, which magazines they subscribe to, and which television programs they watch. It doesn't hurt to expand your reach by talking to your customers or people in your field and asking them similar questions. Understanding your market is critical for any product, including information products.
Carlos C. Johnson III
Author, Speaker, Business Coach