As a consultant or freelancer, your entire business is to know things that other people value, and that they are willing to pay you to learn or do. Whether you’re a social media consultant that helps companies expand their online reach or a freelance grant-writer that non-profits hire to create amazing grant proposals, people are willing to pay you for what you already know.
If you want to make more money in your business, productizing your knowledge is the next logical step. Productizing your knowledge means turning what you already know into products you can sell. Generally, these products are books, webinars, classes, and other opportunities for people to learn what you already know.
When you’re a consultant trading time for money, your revenue is limited by the amount of time you (and your employees, if you have employees) have in a day. With products there is no limit. You may only be able to work with 10 clients (or 100 clients) at any one time, but you can sell thousands of recorded webinars or e-books, making money while you sleep.
In this article I’ll show you the simple, 7-step process for turning your consulting knowledge into info-products you can sell.
I Know Because I’ve Done It
Before we begin, I want to assure you that these 7 steps work… I know, because these are the same 7 steps I have used over and over again to turn my consulting knowledge (in two different industries) into info-products that have resulted in millions of dollars of sales.
You can learn more about my story here. I’ve started three different consulting companies during my career, and each time added massive revenue by taking my consulting knowledge and turning it into e-books, webinars, and classes (all of which were offered 100% online). Twice I was able to sell those businesses to other companies based solely on the product sales we were generating. If I can do it, you can do it too.
Step #1: Make a List of Topics
If you’re just starting out with turning your consulting knowledge into info-products, the first step is to make a list of all of the things you know – or at least, the most common things you are asked to do as a consultant.
For example, as a non-profit fundraising consultant, the most common things I am asked to do is to write fundraising plans, create donor messaging, find new donors, ask donors for money, write fundraising letters, hold fundraising events, and build donor communications systems. Those are just a few of the most common requests… in reality when I was creating my original list it had more like 30 or 40 things on it. Think long and hard, and list everything you do for your clients.
This list is your starting point for creating products. It is a list of potential topics for your info-products. After you create it, cross off things that you don’t really specialize in. You want to start with the low-hanging fruit… the things you really know how to do. Those are the topics you will find it easiest to create products around. You can always come back to the other topics that you need to do more research on later, after you have a few products under your belt.
Step #2: Rank Your Topics on Salability
The next step is to rank your topics based on salability… this means, ranking them based on which topics are most likely to sell well. Which topics address problems that people are willing to pay you to solve for them? Which topics get your target audience excited? Remember, your target audience are people or companies just like your current customers… the people who are already paying you to solve their problems or help them succeed.
One way to help you figure out which topics would work best for your audience is to ask them. If you’ve been building an e-mail list for your consulting business (and you should… more about that here), you can send out a quick survey to your list asking them to choose which topics they would be most interested in buying a course or webinar to learn about. You can use a service like SurveyMonkey to quickly create professional-looking anonymous surveys for your audience.
Don’t agonize over this step. Either survey your audience or choose based on what seems to be most appealing to your current customer group (or both). Then get to work. We’re going to test the topic in step #6, and you can always come back and choose a different topic. Remember, the best topics tend to be simple and to directly solve people’s problems. Most of the suggestions in this article apply to topics for all of your products, not just webinars.
Step #3: Determine the Best Product Format
The third step in productizing your knowledge is to determine the best product format for the topic you have selected. Generally, you’ll want to choose between e-books, webinars, or online classes. As you build a stable of info-products, you can start to delve into things like membership programs as well.
To learn more about the primary formats for your info-products, as well as the strengths of each, read this article. As with step #3, don’t agonize over your decision here. Just choose a topic, and then decide whether you think it lends itself best to an e-book, webinar, or online class.
If this is your first info-product, my recommendation would be to offer your topic as a webinar, if you think you can solve someone’s problem in 60 minutes or less. I have found that webinars are the least intimidating type of info-product to create, as opposed to e-books and online classes, but your preference may vary.
Step #4: Outline Your Product
After selecting your topic and the format of your info-product, it’s time to outline the product. This simply means creating an outline of all of the sub-topics you plan to cover inside the class, webinar, or e-book. This is an important step to take before creating your marketing materials, as it will allow you to use what will be covered in the product to sell it to potential customers.
I like to create my outlines in two stages. First, I outline the biggest sub-topics I will cover (for a webinar, there might 4 or 5 sub-topics, for a book or online class there could be 10, 15, or even 20 sub-topics). Then I go back and create bullet points under each sub-topic. For example, if I’m teaching a webinar on how to write a fundraising plan, one of the sub-topics might be how to get your board of directors to approve your plan. Under that sub-topic, I might have four bullet points, including how to get your board chair excited about the plan and how to explain the plan’s elements to your board.
Step #5: Develop Your Marketing Materials
The next step after outlining your product is to develop your marketing materials. You may be surprised to hear me say that you want you develop your marketing materials (meaning your sales pages) prior to creating the product itself. But this is one of the keys to your success: you want to pre-sell your product before you even create it, as a way to validate your idea. We’ll talk more about that in the next step but suffice to say that you don’t want to spend hours or weeks creating a product that no one wants to buy.
I create my sales pages using ClickFunnels, which is a drag-and-drop sales page system that allows you to accept payments (using Stripe, PayPal, or other payment processors), create amazing sales pages, and host your online classes and other materials via password-protected customer pages. There’s also a great tool called FunnelScripts which I use to help me write great sales copy on my product sales pages. (Both of these links are affiliate links).
Of course, if you don’t want to use a new sales page platform yet, you can always start by just putting the sales copy on a page on your site and inserting a PayPal “Buy Now” button. That’s the way I started back many, many years ago… but once you start making sales, you’ll eventually want to switch to something like ClickFunnels, which will make your sales pages look much more professional and enticing to customers.
Step #6: Pre-Sell Your Product (Validate Your Idea)
As noted above, I recommend that you actually go ahead and pre-sell your product before you even create it. This allows you to validate your idea and make sure that people are actually willing to pay for the product before you sit down and spend hours or weeks working on it. This really only works if you have already been building an e-mail list. If you have, then you can send out a series of marketing e-mails to sell your product with a special “pre-sale discount.”
Make it clear to your customers that this is a pre-order… their credit cards will be charged when they order, but they won’t get the product until a certain date (be sure to include a target date that you will actually be able to meet… you don’t want to tell people that they will get the product on June 1st but not actually deliver it until July).
If not enough people pre-order your product, you can refund everyone’s money and tell them the truth… that there wasn’t enough interest. Use this opportunity to ask your customers once again what they would most be interested in learning from you. If you do sell enough to validate your idea, then you can go ahead and create your product.
Remember too that once you create the product, you’ll be able to sell it over and over again. Thus, if you have an e-mail newsletter list with 1,000 subscribers, and 5% (50) of your subscribers pre-order your product, that won’t be the extent of your sales. You can continue to market the product on your website, to your e-mail list, and via online advertising to sell it for many years to come.
Step #7: Create Your Product
The final step is to create your product. Be sure to create it to meet the “release date” you mentioned in your pre-sale materials. You can use the tools listed on our Top Online Tools page to help you create your info-products.
Remember not to stress out about any of these steps. Creating your first info-product involves a learning curve… that’s ok. It’s worth it, because as you create more and more info-products, you’ll be able to exponentially grow your revenue. You’re the expert… you know stuff that people are willing to pay for. Use that knowledge to create info-products and help the people who are itching to learn what you already know!