8. Create Your Own Information Product – Text
A trend that has seen massive growth in the past few years is that of information products. Information products are basically any constructed item containing information that customers may find valuable in one way or another.
The most common type of information product is the electronic book or e- book. When you put your thoughts down on digital paper and package it as a salable product, then you already have an information product.
You can start typing out an e-book using basic word processing software like Microsoft Word or the free alternative called OpenOffice available at http://www.openoffice.org
The hardest part of using information products to make money is not the creation, but the marketing. Setting aside the amount of competition you will face, it is not exactly easy to get people to part with their money for things that have no physical form – though in the past couple of years this mindset has been changing. Nevertheless, you will need to put your writing prowess into not just the creation of the product but also in its promotion.
The length of a text information product varies, but normally it is significantly longer than any given “article”. That means you are looking at something that is at least a couple thousand words long, written in an organized manner and packaged to be a cohesive unit. That may sound like a task and a half, but experienced writers can do this naturally.
Of course, with any material that gets this long, you will need to consider editing. Editing is the process where someone (preferably not yourself) reviews your work for contiguity, flow, and value per section, aside from the usual spelling and grammatical errors.
If you have friends or family members who don’t mind helping you out, then ask them. Don’t forget to acknowledge them in your book’s public incarnation!
In practice, you can even get others to write your books for you, but you must not forget to read it yourself and edit as needed. It should come out sounding like you, or else you risk being “busted” for using a ghost writer.
Almost any topic is fair game for information products. Even hobbies like gardening and crochet get quite a few books written on them. You should conduct your research to ensure that you have a significant market to eventually sell your product to.
Choose your niche carefully and plan the topics you will discuss so you can sustain the cash flow from your information product series.
Information products are generally informative or instructive in nature, but that is not to say that you cannot sell creative information products. You can produce comics, novels, and other static media works and sell them. A business strategy will be required, but let’s leave that for some other day.
On another note, one file format that you may want to look into is PDF. PDF stands for Portable Document Format, and provides improved text flow mechanisms and also greater security – extremely valuable in protecting your intellectual property.
9. Create Your Own Information Product – Audio
Aside from text-based information products, you can also go with audio. Audio is great because it improves the dynamism of your product and encourages customers to pay closer attention to the material. Audio is also a great option for people who want to produce dynamic media while not being confident of their appearances. Audio is “heavier” than text, but it is also more lightweight compared to video (more on this later).
So what can you put into your audio products? Just like with text-based information products, you can cover just about any topic. In fact, audio can deliver more punch than text discussing an identical topic because audio enables you to express emotion more effectively. For example, sarcasm may be hard to detect in written material, but a sarcastic voice and speech pattern reveals many layers of thought and information.
You can conduct your audio recordings as you would your text products. In fact, you can even read out previously-written and published material. It’s like getting a second product with only half the effort! Basically, you can make your own audio books. Audio books are great for customers who don’t want to bring around clunky e-book readers or fiddle about with tiny smartphone screens, as they can simply transfer the files to their audio players and listen during commutes or whenever they have time.
Another way to conduct your audio recording is as free talk sessions. Instead of reading material, you have a set of topics prepared and you deliver your material like you would when talking with a friend, client, or a hall full of people. You can add some humor to keep things upbeat, or express your emotions and connect with your audience.
You can start recording audio using a program called Audacity, available at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
You’ll want to choose a file format that balances size and quality. MP3 is the most common audio file format, and is a good choice. You don’t need the extreme clarity of lossless formats like FLAC, since the files are much larger and you aren’t exactly a philharmonic orchestra. You’ll probably want to edit out all the dead air and uhms and aahs, as well as adjust the volume. Audacity is a great free program for recording and editing audio, and is a perennial favorite.
Of course, you will want to review and improve your speech. How’s your grammar and pronunciation? Do you speak clearly or do you chew up your words? Can you speak spontaneously and expressively? Think, observe, analyze, and improve!
10. Create Your Own Information Product – Video
In the world of information products, video is the heavyweight. It provides the most impact and perceived value. It’s also the heaviest in terms of file size or bandwidth. Even the most efficient video file formats still consume more space than the average audio file of the same length. However, file size is a small price to pay for the quality of expression and heightened value that
Just like with audio, you can translate previously published material into video. Of course, you can also cover all-new material, which is definitely of higher value. Unlike text-to-audio conversion, you can’t just read out your material. If you are going to convert text to video, then you will need to add illustrations or change the presentation to suit the dynamic potential of video.
No one wants to watch you just reading from a sheet or from the screen – they’d think why didn’t you just record it as audio and save us from the excess file size?
Again, just like with audio, you can do a free-talk style of presentation in video. This takes advantage of the dynamic potential of video and allows you to access various “connections” with your audience. If you want to use the emotional connection, you’ll want to get your acting chops onboard.
You can be serious, or you can be a fool, but don’t be a bad actor.
The true value of the video medium comes to the fore when you want to demonstrate a process. As a thought experiment, consider the Japanese art of origami or paper folding. In this case, text with pictures is reasonably effective. Audio is far less effective and efficient – imagine all the times your listeners would go “fold what, where, and how now?” However, if you use a video with voice-over or inserted text, you get maximum instructive capabilities.
Movie editing programs are many and varied, and you are free to explore your options. One great free option for basic video editing is Windows Movie Maker, which comes bundled into some versions of Windows. Check your PC; you may already have it installed.
Recommended screen recording software: Camtasia – http://www.techsmith.com, Jing – http://www.techsmith.com/jing.htm Screenflow (Mac) – http://www.screenflow.com