Can you make money while you sleep?
A guest post by Helen Lindop
Have you heard that you can create information products and sell them twenty-four hours a day, even when you’re asleep?
This is absolutely true but it’s a bit more complicated than many experts suggest! It’s a brilliant business model though, and one that almost anyone can try. So why not give it a go?
Here are the top three questions that I’m asked about creating information products:
What should my product be about?
There are thousands of digital products out there on subjects from marketing your business to growing your own mushrooms! So what should your product be about?
Beware of creating a product on a subject where there are currently very few information products because this may mean there’s little demand for it.
It’s best to pick a subject you know something about as it’s far easier to promote a product when you feel confident about what you’ve created. You don’t necessarily need qualifications though, you could have learned your subject through experience instead. Enthusiasm for the subject is very helpful too, as the more interested you are in the subject, the more likely you are to complete the product and to make it engaging to use. Many information products are created to position the creator as an expert in their subject, so maybe you’ve already got a good idea of your general subject area?
Now you need to find a niche subject or angle within that broader subject. One of the best ways to do this is to find a single problem and solve it. For example, write an e-book on how to help toddlers sleep better rather than a more general book on bringing up toddlers. Research the books and information products already out there and see if you can find a gap that you could fill.
What’s the best type of product to start with?
There’s a wide range of formats to choose from, from e-books and workbooks to video e-courses. You can also make products with a combination of different formats, for example a video e-course with a transcript and a PDF workbook. But for your first product it’s best to keep it as simple as possible. If you haven’t already had any experience of making videos or recording your voice, then an e-book is usually the easiest format to start with.
Little things like not knowing how to format a Kindle book or edit a video properly can easily stop you in your tracks.
If you want to make a video product and have the budget for it, you can speed up the creation process dramatically by hiring a videographer and video editor. This may not be as expensive as it sounds as there are many freelance video editors on freelancing websites like Elance.com and you could find a video student at your local college. Whichever format you choose, it’s a great idea to pay someone experienced to do some of the tasks you’d struggle with yourself such as graphic design, Kindle formatting and text editing.
It’s crucial to keep the momentum up and get your first product finished. It’s better to have a slightly less ambitious product finished and on sale than it is to have one with all the bells and whistles sitting half-finished on your hard-drive. Your second product is going to be much easier to complete than the first!
How do I sell it?
You’ll need a way of taking payment for your product and delivering it to your customers. The good news is that there are many shopping carts that can do this for you cheaply and easily, the bad news is that the recent EU VAT changes have made this more complicated than it used to be.
When selling digital products online across borders in the European Union you now need to charge VAT at the rate in the country where the product is sold. And unfortunately the VAT threshold is zero for this type of product. If you’re thinking that you won’t be selling products in France, Spain or any one of the other EU states then keep in mind that it’s hard to prevent this from happening as the internet has no borders.
You can avoid the responsibility all for this by using a marketplace website which charges the VAT at the correct rate and pays it to the correct government for you. This is exactly what I’ve chosen to do, because I want to focus on creating products and promoting them, rather than dealing with admin. My advice to you if you’re starting out as an information product creator is to do the same, unless your accountant recommends you collect and pay the VAT yourself.
For an explanation of the VAT MOSS situation see this interview.
Some marketplaces disagree with the EU on whether they are responsible for collecting VAT or not, so I’ve taken the decision to go with marketplaces that are openly agreeing to collect and pay VAT on my behalf. Right now there still aren’t that many of these marketplaces but no doubt the number will increase steadily over the next few months. Here are a few marketplaces that have agreed to collect and pay VAT on behalf of product creators: Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Udemy, Envato, Paddle, FastSpring, Payhip and Clickbank. But please do read the VAT small print very carefully before starting to sell on any marketplace.
Once you’ve chosen your marketplace, you need to format your content according to the marketplace’s rules and either upload it or give the marketplace a download link on your own site. After that you just need to wait for your product to be approved and then –congratulations! – you have an information product ready for sale.
So there you go, the three key answers you need to start your information empire. Why not go ahead and start your own information product?
Helen Lindop: Social Media Trainer for micro-businesses
Her Online Business Club (a Clickbank subscription information product!) helps micro business owners learn about promoting their businesses online in flexible, monthly bite-sized pieces.