Online Information Products Pt 3

On top of the fact that selling information products minimizes or even eliminates the need to carry inventory you also have the wonderful advantage of being able to make modifications to your manuscripts, documents, etc on the fly, so to speak.

In other words, if you wake up one morning realizing that something you’ve stated in chapter three of your ebook is difficult to understand and needs to be clarified, made more clear, so that the reader doesn’t get the wrong idea, you can go to your computer and instantly make the change and every copy you sell from that point on will have the benefit of the correction.

You can also benefit from this by informing your existing customers of the change you’ve made. I am assuming that you worked on your original product long enough before you first released it that practically all errors you’ve made were already corrected. Sending corrections to your customers every week will only result in them going away from you; however, if you send them an update once in a while, they will respect you for taking the time to let them know.

It is all about caring for your customers and caring enough to make certain that they enjoy a good experience with you. After all, if the situation were to be reversed, wouldn’t you appreciate someone whose product you had purchased letting you know about a correction they’ve made and letting you know without looking for anything in return.

Maybe your own studies led you to realize that there is some aspect of your subject that you didn’t think to address in the original product. With an info-product, especially one that can be printed out by the customer, you are in the position of being able to substantially amend it and release it as “My Product 201”.

And . . . you can offer it to both your existing customers and to new customers. You can offer a very special price to existing customers – it might be 25 to 40% of the cost you offer to new customers in respect of the fact that they’ve already purchased the original.

This is one way you can make yourself more appealing to your existing customers, which gets into the subject of marketing and realizing that the value of an existing customer is quite large and very worthy of your attention, especially once you calculate what it costs you to obtain any new customer.

In contrast to hard products (physical) just think about the problems faced by a company like Toyota recalling an entire car just to fix one little piece. Is it important they do this? It certainly is. Is it costly and time-consuming? Absolutely!

I’ll continue with more on info-products next week.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at April 10/10

Online Information Products Pt 2

Going into the business of selling information products gives you a more choices than you might first think. People learn differently and it pays you to consider that information products can be offered in different formats.

Some people read some prefer to listen, others to watch. Here is a list of a few different ways that you can package information products:-

  • Newsletters, every two weeks or monthly.
  • CD’s. If you have a good voice you can produce your own recordings of what you’ve written very inexpensively.
  • DVD’s. If you clean up nice in addition to being able to speak in a pleasant voice, you can produce movies very inexpensively.

And there are other methods available to you but, you get the idea.

It used to cost huge amounts of money to produce audio and video recordings but the web has made it possible for any of us to make our own recordings for a very small outlay of money.

I know; here’s another thing to add to a pile of jobs that already threatens to overwhelm you but, the internet connects you with a whole bunch of people that are willing to take on almost any job you need to have done in your business, people with experience and an eagerness to perform for you. At this early stage, don’t worry about how you will get things done, instead, be aware of all the possibilities available to you to get things done.

You could be in the position of creating any one or all of these products on your home computer and only in quantities dictated by the number of your subscribers or the quantity of orders you receive. Once you have created the original text, audio or video product, you only make as many copies as you need on a daily or weekly basis. No surplus inventory to worry about.

I’ll continue with more on info-products tomorrow.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at April 09/10

Online Information Products

Continuing the discussion on information products, I must caution you not to consider plagiarizing any work done by another. Plagiarizing means using something created by someone else and claiming it as your own.

There are places o the web, such as some of the links you’ll find when entering “Duplicate Content”, as I suggested in my last blog, which will very quickly identify anything you copy as being just that, a copy. This will not serve you or any prospect checking you out, it will only drive them away.

Spiders A name given to the software employed by search engines like Google to find and capture new content posted on the web. For example, let’s assume that you’ve written an article and posted it on your website, your blog or anywhere else you want to use as a capture point to attract new visitors (traffic) to your stuff.

The software that spiders use to crawl though the worldwide web looking for new stuff is pretty intelligent; so much so that, the software compares what you’ve written to its archives of at the home base (Google in this example) already has cataloged. If it finds that your piece is very similar to something it already has on file, your stuff may be ignored by the spider.

Any work you’ve done to use keywords (words that people might search for when they are interested in a particular subject) is wasted effort because the search engine may not point anyone in your direction.

You are free to take the thoughts and writings of another and rewrite them but, here too, you must substantially change an article written by someone else before spider software considers it original. An article changed by at least 50% is one measure considered significant enough to qualify what you’ve written as original.

A paid content checking service used by university professors to verify the originality of, lets say a thesis, may apply a threshold of over 70% so, it’s best if you just write in your voice instead of struggling to rewrite someone else’s work, otherwise, if you rewrite any article written by another, change the wording and the structure by at least 50%.

I’ll continue with more on info-products tomorrow.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at April 08/10

Online Business Products Pt 4

The “Tomorrow” I referred to in my last blog got pushed out by the holidays. Hope you enjoyed a great Easter, Passover or whatever you may have celebrated in recent days.

In my last blog, I was talking about ways you could generate info product even if you don’t think you have any useful knowledge or writing ability. Perhaps you’ve tried several times and come to the conclusion that you really can’t come up with anything acceptable on your own. Even so, you have other choices available to you. As long as you have a good idea of a subject you want to provide information on here’s a couple of approaches you can consider.
•    There are services available to anyone on the web where someone like you can go and post a request to have an article written for you. is one example.

As an example, on elance, I searched for writers without stating a specific subject. The search result tells me there are over one hundred thousand authors available. To be more specific about the subject, I then searched “Raising Children” and a list of over 300 writers was returned in the result.

What you would do is enter the subject you want an article written about. It is up to you to provide as much detail as you can about what you want and writers will bid on the job. Then you choose a writer, they prepare an article per your direction, you pay them, and the article is yours to monetize and publish as your own in whatever media you want.
•    You can buy the marketing rights to articles on any number of subjects and you may find something available that suits your needs. This is a great way to get something written on any given subject when you find writing is beyond your present ability.

You might be concerned that you are receiving an article that already exists on the web; in other words, the article sent to you is not original. There are free softwares available which enable you to verify that any given article is not a copy of an existing article.

Type in the phrase “Duplicate Content” and a list of a number of softwares will be returned. Choose one such as “Article Checker” and follow the directions to check your article and find out if it is similar to anything already existing on the web.

I’ll continue with more on info-products tomorrow.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at April 06/10

Online Business Products Pt 3

•    You can make a major modification to any of your products with no financial impact due to lost inventory because you don’t have any inventory.
•    You can record your product on more than one media to provide more choices to your customer.
•    Some people like to have a feely-touchy document such as an ebook or a report.
•    Others prefer to have a CD they can listen to at home or in their car on their daily commute. You can read an info-product into the computer and create a CD.
•    Provide you with a choice of media to offer to your customers.

Sources for Info-Product

You may feel that you have no story, no advice to offer but, each of us have unique experiences in our lives and you may have much more to offer than you believe.

Begin by looking as objectively as you can at your experience. Many people are inclined to sell themselves short, viewing what they know, what they have done and what they can do as being of little importance.

By looking at your experiences and abilities through objective eyes, try to imagine how you would view another person who had accomplished what you have. Impressed? Good! Others out there may want the benefit of your experience and thinking. The job before you is to set your experiences down on paper.

Perhaps you think that your writing skills are not adequate to the task but you won’t know until you try. Here are a few suggestions you might start with to construct a report using baby steps –
•    Make a summary of the main points you would like to cover in your writing assignment.
•    Make additional notes for each of the main points summarized on your list.
•    Expand on each of these notes by writing more information or making more notes.
•    Think of interesting experiences you’ve had that help the reader to visualize the information you’re writing about.
•    Try writing some of these down.
•    Don’t try to write a novel, just try to make a list of bits of knowledge, experiences you’ve had, stories about your experiences and those of others that help to describe the points you are trying to make.

I’ll continue with more on info-products tomorrow.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at April 01/10

Online Business Products Pt 2

Avoiding the headaches associated with managing a physical inventory, filling and shipping orders can make a huge difference in the amount of time you have available to spend on other aspects of your business. By now you may be realizing that there are many more things you’ll have to concern yourself with than you originally realized.

Don’t let this discourage you; yes there are many things that will require your time and effort in the operation of any business but, you are going to be in the position of being able to get online help to accomplish some these tasks, something not as easily done with a B&M business without hiring physical bodies. I’ll get to this subject later but, for now, let’s continue to look at selling information products.

I covered some of the advantages of selling information products in my last blog dated March 30th – let’s take a closer look.

•    When your business is starting up, you are able to produce info-products as you receive orders; you don’t have to keep stock on a shelf. If you are sending your customers digital downloads, you will have no physical product to control.
•    You have electronic files on your computer which you have to manage to ensure that they are backed up, that they are not subject to corruption from hackers (you use a product like McAfee or Symantec to guard your computer.
•    You can devote more of your time to the development and writing of new products.
•    You can make a change or addition to any one of your products anytime without having to go to an outside supplier.*
* This touches on the topic of who manages your electronic files and your website and this is a subject I’ll address another time

I’ll continue with more on info-products tomorrow.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 31/10

Online Business Products

Consider, there are two categories of products you can sell in an online business, a physical product or an information product. We could classify a CD as both a physical product and as an information product because the product itself is only a means of conveying information to a customer. In the case of a CD, we’re taking about something that is recorded, music or words.

eBay used to allow sellers to transmit information in the way of electronic downloads and many entrepreneurs made significant revenue selling access to a written document, an ebook (in effect, a text file) and/or music files. eBay discontinued their practice of allowing entrepreneurs to sell electronic downloads and obliged them to fill orders with physical products. In the case of information, that meant a book, a manuscript, CD or DVD.

However, that was only for product sold on eBay; businesses outside of eBay are allowed to sell information products (Info Products) as they wish, which means that you’ll find a wealth of info-products available throughout the web. This might be a type of business you should consider, especially if you are just starting out and there are numerous advantages to this including-
•    You have no physical inventory to consider.
•    No space required to store physical inventory.
•    No potential losses due to damage, spoilage or theft.
•    There is a lot more to what you must do to control, manage and ship physical inventory products than you would guess offhand.
•    No insurance costs.
•    No obsolescence costs – unsold physical inventory may become obsolete while it sits on your shelf.
•    No worries about what quantity to order.

The customer could choose to print out text or to transfer the music to a portable device such as an ipod or burn a CD on their computer or simply store the music or text file on their computer. The huge benefit to a seller (like you) is that they did not have to handle a physical product so most of their revenue was pure profit.

Stay tuned.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 30/10

Online Business Benefits Pt 4

Another issue you must consider with respect to selling goods online is the cost of carrying inventory in stock. When I worked in the corporate manufacturing sector with fortune 500 American companies, there was an ongoing debate in the industry over how much it cost to maintain, carry, hold inventory on hand. The numbers ranged from a low of 18% to 35% of the value the inventory. Put another way, the cost of carrying every ten thousand dollars worth of inventory ranges from a low of $1,800 to a high of $3,500 per year.

These numbers will make more sense to you when you consider the cost of things such as material handling – your time to move stuff around or the time expended by your paid employees, the cost of utilities – heat, power, and air conditioning. You also have to consider your cost of damaged goods, items that become obsolete – better and cheaper alternatives become available.

There are real estate costs related to the amount of space on your property you devote to the storage of inventory, real estate taxes, and the cost of rent if you are using another site, fire and theft insurance.

I’m sure you get the picture. It isn’t simply a matter of saying that you’ll take advantage of half the space in your double garage because you’re not utilizing it for anything else. These are all real costs that you would want to consider when preparing your income taxes for the business.

So, before making any irreversible decisions about the nature of the business you plan to operate, a small amount of think time devoted up front can save you a lot of money later on.

There are many advantages, now becoming obvious to you, in having an outside party, a fulfillment company looking after filling your orders for hard product. By reducing the profit you make operating this business, the outside company has many of the headaches, while you are free to work on the business. An important lesson to take away to day is that you must minimize the amount of your time spent working IN the business and maximize the amount of your time spent working ON the business. This copies what successful people do.

Stay tuned.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 25/10

Online Business Benefits Pt 3

I should point out that if you are operating or considering the operation of a catalog business, my comments about a business selling goods are really not directed at you. A catalog business is usually one where there is a wide assortment of; for example, camping gear, knick-knacks or tools for sale, etc. My comments are directed to those of you that are dealing with a handful of items.

On the other hand, you could always have a portion of your inventory handled by a third party to reduce the amount of inventory you must manage. If you were selling camping gear including bulky items like canoes and other watercraft in your catalog, you might be able to find one or more suppliers that would act as fulfillment centers for you and avoid the need to carry these large items as on hand inventory.

Doing something like this could save you a lot of effort and money while still enabling you to offer a broader assortment of products than your space and financial resources could support.

The lesson here is that any given idea may not apply to your business BUT this doesn’t mean that an idea couldn’t be applied to part of your business. Breakthroughs in business thinking can often come from applying an idea used in a completely different business to your own business or, to a part of your business.

Always keep an open mind. One of the most quoted mistakes business owners make is believing that an idea, a system, or a marketing process may work well in someone else’s business but, “it wouldn’t work in my business”. You are surrounded by ideas; all you have to do is test other existing ideas in your own business to see if they work instead of trying to come up with something original yourself.

As usual, I’m drifting off the subject but I want you to benefit from any random thoughts I have as I’m writing so, I hope you stay alert as I ramble on – something I say might reveal a “river of diamonds” in your world.

Stay tuned.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 24/10

Online Business Benefits Pt 2

Let’s assume that you have a business selling a product or even an assortment of products similar to the average B&M business. A very large concern you’ll have is stuff, your product, your inventory.

If you choose to operate an online business selling a product the same way as your grandfather operated his B&M business, being online is not going to be much of a benefit to you. One benefit you enjoy with an online business is that all you have to show a prospective customer is a picture of the product.

A B&M business cannot get by with having as few as one of every product they sell on the shelf but an online business doesn’t need to have ten or twenty of a product, let alone of every product, physically on the shelf. As the operator of an online business, you can nail down dependable sources for each product you sell and just keep a minimal quantity on hand to fill orders from one day to the next.

You must have your supplier or suppliers commit to deliver product on a just-in-time basis. In other words, you only buy product as you receive orders to sell it. Do not make the mistake of promising a delivery within X# of days or weeks and then not be able to back up your commitment. Always deliver more than what you’ve promise. And make very certain that your supplier(s) keep you advised of any problems they see ahead which could impede delivery to you.

Some online businesses have contracts with fulfillment centers that specialize in filling and shipping orders for customers (in this case your business is one of their customers) when they receive the order notification. In this kind of operation, you don’t have to have any inventory on hand at all.

You do have to be certain that your fulfillment house is constantly on top of things and makes you aware IN ADVANCE of any potential problems with maintaining adequate stock on hand. Being aware that a problem is coming grants you the opportunity to inform your customers that a given item is running low, or that you expect it to be on backorder within days, or that you may not be able to fill their order as promised. Sure, the customer may elect not to order but you have earned some credibility by being honest instead of having a customer get mad because their purchase hasn’t shown up within two weeks or whatever time frame you’ve promised.
The same is true whether you use a fulfillment house to fill orders or you do it yourself. You’ll accumulate brownie points by being honest.

Remember that “One Aw Sh— can wipe out twenty-five Atta-boys.”
This is one lesson that many business entrepreneurs never seem to learn and not knowing this can attract an awful lot of harm to your credibility online in a flash.

Stay tuned.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 23/10