If asked to describe the ideal product to sell, you might say something like “large profit margin,” or “easy to produce” or “high market demand.”
Or you might say “socks.” I don’t know you.
But the first three are all attractive descriptors because they can lead to quite a bit of revenue at little cost.
If you like the sound of that, information products may be for you. These are products that provide customers with some sort of information, often educational. Think ebooks or online courses.
With the right information product idea, you can stand to make a lot of money—and in some cases it can be the whole your business.
What exactly is an information product?
Information products are anything that you sell, or derive value from in some other way, that conveys knowledge. Usually these products are sold digitally, and can be downloaded from your website.
A membership site also falls under the umbrella of information product. These obviously have quite a range when considering what they offer, so here’s a helpful explainer on the different types of membership sites.
In some cases information products aren’t digital. Coaching or mentorship as a product is one example of non-digital information products. In the days before the internet, it was common to see people selling “reports” or video courses on DVDs.
Again, the key here is that the information in your product is what is valuable.
Books are valuable because of what’s on the pages—the pieces of paper themselves are mostly useless to you.
In case you’re having any trouble grasping it, here are some real-life examples of successful information products and how they monetize.
Who needs an information product idea
Information products are a great opportunity for freelancers to stop trading time for money and start a more scalable business.
If you’re a freelancer, that means you have a lot of knowledge in a really specific field. You have a valuable skill set that people already pay you for. Turn this knowledge into a product.
For example, imagine you’re a freelance UX designer. No doubt you know a thing or two about UX design, so write up an ebook on “How to become a UX designer” and sell it on your website.
Of course, you’ll likely have to do more than just put it on your website to attract sales, but fear not—there are plenty of effective strategies for launching an ebook.
And information products are for more than just freelancers.
If you run a small, service-oriented business, some sort of information product could be a nice little boost to your revenue. All while serving the purpose of attracting future clients, supplementing current clients, and even selling to people who wouldn’t be able to afford your services otherwise.
Information products can also serve as a nice little supplementary income for teachers and educators. There’s no shortage of software out there which enables users to build and sell their own online courses.
How to turn your information product idea into reality
It’s easier said than done, right? Having a successful information product means doing more than putting some ideas in your head onto the internet.
Creating a successful information product can be a little daunting, even if you already run your own business. There’s a lot of logistical stuff you have to worry about (not to mention generating sales).
Obviously, the problem you incur will differ depending on what it is you’re looking to sell. For example, somebody looking to start a business for online courses is going to encounter some totally different issues than somebody looking to start their own membership site.
No matter what your information product idea is, it’s key to keep it small. If, for example, you’re designing and online history course, you might have grand ambitions to create several different courses covering dozens of different civilizations.
While that certainly sounds interesting, it also sounds overwhelming. You want to keep things simple and don’t try to build to quickly.
To continue the history course example, it might be best to start with one part of a course that covers one civilization. Once you complete that, and get it up on your website, then you can continue to develop the rest of your courses. But if you try to do everything at once, you are assured to get overwhelmed and lose your enthusiasm.
This same principle applies to every type of information product. Let’s say you want to start a membership site which facilitates meetups for casual pick-up sports. It’d be best to start with one sport. Once you have that developed, you can begin to move on to other sports.
This strategy is not only going to keep you sane, but it will enable you to iterate and improve your product as you continue to develop it. If you took that hypothetical history course, you’d know Rome wasn’t built in a day.
9 information product ideas
Okay, so you have a good grasp on what an information product is and why it can be so valuable. Now, we’ll go through a few ideas, so you can determine which product is the perfect for what you have to offer.
An ebook is simply an electronic version of a regular book that can be read on a Kindle, laptop, tablet, whatever. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need a print book to justify having one. Ebooks’ value are the ideas inside of them, so they sell best once you’ve established yourself as an authority on whatever topic is covered.
If you’re a real estate agent and you try to write an ebook about woodworking, you might run into problems. The key here is to first establish your expertise and then provide actual value in your ebook.
This not only ensures happy customers, but repeat ones.
2. Online courses
We’ve seen the slow democratization of education over the past decade or so, and that will only continue—in part because of online courses.
Like with ebooks here, the key to attracting students is proving your expertise. It doesn’t matter what your topic is, if you clearly know what you’re talking about, people will digitally attend.
3. Webinar recordings
Part of a webinars value is the opportunity for interactivity, but just because someone misses out on the opportunity to ask a question to the presenter doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear what was said.
Webinars provide attendees with tons of rich and practical information, and people value that, even if it means watching it after the fact.
4. Live event recordings
In college I had a roommate who loved the band Phish. Every time they had a concert, he would go into his room and watch a recording of their concert at his desk.
Obviously, I thought he was crazy, but it makes the point that people will go out of their way to see something they’re interested in.
If you host or have access to live events that people from all over are interested, you can likely turn a recording of it into a product of its own.
5. Live event recaps (written)
Written recaps of a live event will only work as a paid information product if there was useful information provided during the event. People likely won’t pay for a written recap of a concert, but a live speaking event about entrepreneurship might be different.
Remember, it’s all about information, and if you can provide valuable information, people will buy.
6. Membership sites
Like many other examples of information products, the key here is identifying a demand. This might mean creating an online community.
Or in some cases, a membership site will overlap with one of the other types of products. For example, you can create a series of online courses that are available to site members.
7. Audio from expert interviews
People love to hear from experts. That’s why their speaking fees can be so exorbitantly high.
We’ve talked a lot about how a key to selling an information product is proving your expertise. Well, when you get someone who’s already an established expert, that part is already done for you.
Q&As can be incredibly valuable because they provide some of the most actionable, real-world advice out there.
Often times the person answering the questions will be speaking from their own experience. That means less theory, more practice.
9. Workbooks and templates
People looking for workbooks or templates of something will happily pay for them when done well. You might see information products out here for things like resume templates or website templates.
If your template is for something that your customers tend to use to make money (resumes, websites, or something else entirely), they will happily pay if your templates are effective.
Conclusion: “Sell” information products for free
Information products have a low cost to produce and can be sold at high prices. They don’t take a lot of materials to produce—and if you have the right information product idea, they might not take much time either.
We’ve generally been talking about these information products as something you sell. And that’s often (even usually) the goal of information products.
But just because we’re calling it a product, doesn’t mean you need to sell it. Information products can also be used as a lead magnet, which can support your business by growing your audience and extending your reach.