In my 15+ years online, I’ve consumed a lot of information products.
From ebooks to courses to membership sites and more, I’ve seen ’em come and go. Today, there are probably more information products being offered online than ever before, with a greater number sure to come (if the growth in information products aimed at teaching folks to create information products is any sign).
Overall, I think this is a good thing. We live in a time when lifetime learning is one of the keys to success and information products are a great way to pick up the knowledge you need. However, though the technology to produce and deliver these products has improved greatly over the years, many infoproducts tend to suffer from one or more of three critical mistakes.
Mistake 1: Failure to Specify the Level of Expertise Required
When you create an infoproduct, you are the subject matter expert. You have spent time and effort learning becoming that expert and the knowledge you have developed comes second nature to you. This leads you to believe that the basic knowledge in your subject is easy and that, “everyone must know it”.
Tip: this is not true.
This leads to a “beginner’s guide” which assumes that the buyer is already signed up for a site or service (or is at least familiar with them) and is chock full of acronyms and references to all kinds of information without full explanations.
One solution for infoproduct creators is to cover your bases by including the basic knowledge as part of your product. You can either include it up front and tell folks to, “Skip if you already know this” or you can include it as an appendix and refer beginners there to get started.
Another solution is to keep your infoproduct as is, but to be clear, up front before the sale, about the level of expertise needed to make use of your knowledge.
Of the two solutions, I prefer the latter as it is more inclusive and broadens your product’s appeal to a wider pool of potential buyers.
Mistake 2: Failure to Provide Actionable and Usable Knowledge
How many times have you bought an infoproduct hoping to find step-by-step instructions on how to get things done only to find a lot of generalities and broad strokes which were not very useful?
It’s happened to me a lot.
When I buy a course on “How to Succeed at <blank>”, I want details and action plans and steps to follow. I want to know that Step A is followed by Step B and leads to Result C (or at least that it is likely to do so if I do it right).
The thing is, generality is the lazy man’s retreat. Sure, there are times and subject when it is warranted. Bloggers tend to talk in generalities because they need to get their content out fast and often but that’s OK for the most part because I did not pay to read their post.
But when I buy an infoproduct, I have different expectations. I expect that the creator has spent some significant time creating his offering. I am paying for this and I expect to see the results of some blood, sweat and tears. I have come to learn; the product better be ready to teach.
Mistake 3: Trying to Do It All
This mistake is related to mistakes 1 and 2 and is the result of trying to strike a balance between the two.
Often, in an attempt to please every possible buyer, an infoproduct creator attempts to stuff all possible lessons on a subject into one product. This leads to a lot of work and a situation where even the most dedicated of infoproduct creators gets overwhelmed and starts retreating into generalities just to get the thing finished.
The result: an infoproduct that is hard to get through, find relevant information within and is too general to be really useful.
The solution is to scale back and focus. Choose an aspect of your subject and focus on that. Do it well. Kick it out of the ballpark. Then choose another aspect and repeat. Then do it yet again.
The result: targeted and useful infoproducts for which your buyers will not regret paying.
How About You?
Have you run into these mistakes when you bought an infoproduct?
Are there other mistakes that infoproduct creators make which really burn your whiskers?
Please share in the comments section below.