There is a tremendous opportunity for authors to generate new revenue streams from information products. People will often pay big bucks for valuable information in the form of ebooks, special reports, whitepapers, teleseminars, and other digital products.
While it can be relatively easy to create information products, often the hardest part is coming up with the right topics for your audience. Following are some strategies to help you develop topic ideas.
Keys to Generating Topic Ideas
1. Teach the audience how to do something. To begin the brainstorming process, make a list of everything you know how to do. For example, if you are a career coach, you probably know how to write a killer resume, prepare for an interview, what to avoid saying during the interview process, what you should say during the interview process, how to dress for success, etc. Providing how-to information that isn’t readily available can be a highly profitable proposition.
2. Find out what your customers want and need. Ask them directly by soliciting feedback or conducting a survey. Keep in mind that it’s much easier to fill a need than to create one.
3. Pay attention to the questions you’re asked most frequently. Often times this can hold a key to creating a product that will be in high demand. For example, if you’ve authored a memoir about your journey with Fibromyalgia, perhaps you’re often asked, “What are the best ways to improve results?” You could then create a report, course or other type of product simply called: Fibromyalgia Solutions that Work.
4. Use what you already have. Compile your best articles or blog entries or take topics from your existing book and break them down into short reports. Or, bundle them together to create an ebook, comprehensive report or toolkit.
5. Examine your databases. Take a look at the databases you keep and consider whether people would be willing to pay for them. For example, you could compile a list of 50 resources for your specific industry or 30 local media contacts.
6. Learn how to do something new then show others how to do it to. For example, if you are a health expert who tries new supplements and protocols, do your research and then teach your customers how to do it too.
7. Compile data for your industry. If you have the means to survey customers or industry professionals, you can turn the results into valuable reports.
8. Open up your rolodex. Interviews with experts are always in demand. Contact people you know and ask if you can interview them on a teleseminar or as a transcript for a special report. BONUS: This is also a great way to form alliances with people you would like to know! Inviting experts to contribute creates excellent networking opportunities.
9. Invite contributors. You can create an anthology-style ebook or report by contacting influential people in your industry and asking them to contribute an article or a chapter.
10. Teach what you know. One of the easiest ways to attract paying customers is teach about your industry. For example, if you run a pet sitting business, you can teach a class on how to start a business like yours. You can host classes via email, online with a program such as GoToMeeting, with video recordings or in-person. You can also create a workbook to compliment your course.
Following are some of the most common information products and ways to generate ideas for these:
These are typically short documents, from two to twenty pages, featuring brief how-to information.
- A photographer could write a report about how to take flattering photos.
- A pet sitter could write a report on pet safety tips.
- A marketing expert could offer 50 tips for business networking.
- A real estate agent could explain how to stage a home to maximize its sales value.
- Assemble a list of media contacts for your industry.
- Compile a list of resources for your audience. For example, a nutritionist could compile a list of gluten-free packaged foods.
- If you’ve created a formatted spreadsheet for tracking sales leads or monitoring your business, sell it!
- Case studies—Outline one of your customer’s success stories (with their permission) and explain how the reader can benefit from what the customer learned.
- Frequently asked questions—Answer the most common questions you are asked about your industry.
- Industry white papers—Compile the latest statistics about your industry.
These are typically longer documents, ranging from twenty pages to several hundred pages.
- How to start a business like yours. (I used to own a bookstore and for years one of my best sellers was a guide called “How to Start a Bookstore”).
- How to (do just about anything!). A chiropractor could create a book of exercises that help various conditions.
- How to sell (a specific item) on eBay. If you’ve had success with antiques, collectibles, electronic products, homemade goods or anything else on eBay, help others understand what worked.
- Tell your story: “How I took $500 and built an amazing business, and how you can to!”
- Create an anthology. Contact other experts in your field and ask them to contribute an article or essay.
- Compile your own articles into book format.
- Compile your best blog entries.
These have a high perceived value and can be sold in hard copy or electronic formats. You should include some worksheets and/or activities and exercises to make it interactive. These can be a wonderful companion to a speaking engagement or class that you are teaching.
- Show how to start a business in your industry. Include sample forms and worksheets that you use in your daily business operations.
- Compile articles that you have written and create exercises to attach at the end of each one. For example, include an article about how to decorate a living room, then add a worksheet that will help the reader outline a color palate for his own decorating adventure.
- Show how you did something then include an outline for the reader to do it too. For example, you could explain how you marketed your book over a three-year period and then include an outline for a marketing plan, with room for the reader to fill in his own details.
- Develop a companion workbook that the audience follows through while you give your presentation.
You can conduct classes in person, via email, webinar or video.
- Conduct a weekly class via email and have students send back homework for you to review. You can even automate the delivery process using auto responders.
- Offer daily exercises for a month. For example, “30 Days to Positive Thinking.”
- Give students exercises to perform with each class session.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit on how to create revenue streams for your author-publisher business. It includes checklists, templates, worksheets and more. Check it out!