6 Hard-Learned Info Product Creation Lessons After 17 Years In the Business

This episode is going to be fun… and that’s because I shed light on some of my big product creation screw-ups over the last 17 years. What can you learn from my mistakes?

Episode #121 | Episode Date: October 3, 2015

Hello there! So we’re here again in another episode of Coffee Break Blogging!

This episode is going to be fun… and that’s because I shed light on some of my big product creation screw-ups over the last 17 years.

What can you learn from my mistakes?

My goal is to save you time and effort by allowing you to see some of my… shall we say, “finer” decisions over the years. 😉

We’ll discuss…

  • Why the way to make more money with your business is NOT to focus on marketing and conversions
  • Why you should literally SCHEDULE time for delivery
  • The big mistake I made with my first training product
  • Why you shouldn’t make a BIG training course
  • Why I moved from making big courses to creating “Action Plans” for my members
  • How to structure your products so they’re actually effective
  • My somewhat humorous experiences with NAMING my products… how I screwed it up and what this means for you.

Learn from my mistakes. When I teach this stuff, I do it from a lot of experience. 🙂

We have actually been talking about product creation the last several episodes of the show. And it is really, really important because we are in the monetization phase in the whole Coffee Break series right now. We are talking about building the business and ultimately making sales. But it should be pretty obvious that none of it matters if you do not have anything to sell. And so for that reason we are starting off this chunk of our series here with product creation.

And today, what I want to do is actually look a little bit at my own history of product creation and bring forth some hard-learned lessons that I had picked up over the years. I have been in this business now for 17 years in one way, shape or form. Now it has not always looked like it does right now. I mean; to put it mildly. When I first started there was no way that I would guess that what I am doing and what it looks like now is where I would be at this point. But at the same time, 17 years is a really long time and you better believe that I had learned some really important things about product creation.

Now some of these things are things that I have mentioned in some of the last episodes; some in passing or what have you, but some of it, not so much.

So basically, I am now going to look at some of the historical things that I have done in the world of product creation, some of it a little embarrassing and pointing out some mistakes and turn that into lessons to save you some time and hassle; moving forward. 🙂

1. Prioritize delivery; not getting more sales.

Now this is a really simple piece of advice. It is actually more of a mindset thing. Here is the thing… We all; when we are building our online businesses, we all want to grow our revenue. We all would like to make more money. That is just part of the game, here. That being said, what is really easy to do is to get into the mindset of “marketing” and thinking “Okay, I need to do some split-testing, I need to tweak the conversion rate, I need to do this little tactic here, this little tactic there” and you read about sales tactics and conversions and all that in order to make money with your site.

But you need to boil it down even more basic. And that is that the way to make more money… to deliver more. Actually, emphasize DELIVERY, not so much the marketing. It does not mean that marketing is not important; it does not mean that you are not going to make that a priority, but here’s the thing…

What good is marketing if you do not have products to sell to them?

And not only that… “Good products” to sell to them; more of them.

Now this is something that I have actually RE-realized (if that is even a word) actually, just kind of recently because I have the Blog Monetization Lab, and if I do say so to myself; I’m kind of partial, I think it is a really good membership program. I really, really do; I am putting a lot of work into it, but at the same time, I will let you know of a little internal thing that I have had to come to grips with, and that is the fact that I do not think that I was making delivery enough of a priority for my Lab Members.

I was; like all business owners, focusing on marketing and bringing in more members and stuff like that, all things that are very important; but I was losing sight of the fact that creating the training; which is what I deliver inside the Lab, is actually more important than the marketing. And in fact, it makes marketing so much easier if I am creating new Action Plans. Every single time I release a new Action Plan, I now have something to go to my list and launch to them. And it can all bring people onto the Lab. I now have more material that I can now re-launch; I can create a new sales funnel and bring people onto the Lab. I have so many more marketing opportunities available to me simply by prioritizing delivery and just making more deliverables for my existing members.

And so, a really good lesson that I want you to take to heart is that, I understand that you want to make money online; I understand that you want to make money with your blog. But the way to do that is not by focusing so much time and effort on making sales and crafting sales letters and stuff like that; that you lose sight on the fact that the most important thing that you can do is deliver on the transformation that you are in the business of delivering. Really nail down what that transformation is; we talked about the transformation many times here, and deliver it to your absolute best and make that a regular, regular habit like, schedule time to do nothing but work on delivering that transformation by way of your training content. And if you do an effective job at that, all the marketing and sales and all that will just kind of just fall in the line and it will make the marketing and all the conversion stuff that you are doing a lot easier.

So that is tip no. 1, a really important one… Prioritize delivery; not getting more sales.

2. Don’t throw everything into one course.

I have made this mistake before. The business model that I have now at the Blog Monetization Lab makes different Action Plans and I have got 10 or 11 different courses inside the Lab. There is a lot in there. It didn’t always look like that. My first product when I came into this market of helping other bloggers was called Blog Masters Club. Now that course still exists and it is available inside the Blog Monetization Lab for my members. But that Blog Masters Club; get this: It was 16 modules long! Holy crap! That is a long, long course! Most courses that come out today are what… an average of 5 or 6 modules? I came out with 16 damn modules! 😀

Now here is the thing… I made it way too big! It is a great course, a lot of value, I got really good feedback. But it was too big! It was too big! And not only that, it made it difficult to actually market it and position it properly because the course covered so many different topics all in one thing. It was like this brain dump of everything that I knew at the time on creating and monetizing a blog. And you know, by the time that I got to that point of Blog Masters Club, recognize I had already been doing this for 11 years; so I brought a lot to the table from Day 1 when I started talking to other bloggers. And I brain dumped 11 years of experience into the Blog Masters Club.

So, take it from me. Do not throw everything into one course. It makes it more difficult to sell. I ultimately did pretty well with the Blog Masters Club but consider that the first release of that course was in 2009. Things look a lot different today. There is a lot more information out there so a course like that would probably not do as well today.

The other thing is that, from a business perspective, when you have multiple things to offer to your customers, it makes a hell of a lot more sense and is much smarter business than having one big thing to offer to your customers. It is the idea of lifetime customer value. And really, how you grow your business ultimately is increasing your lifetime customer value. The amount of money that each single customer ultimately gives your business and the more that you can increase that, the better.

But the way that you increase that is not by having one big mega product and once they bought it, you are like, “Okay, done. You got my thing.” It is having multiple things. So, instead of making a massive brain dump style of a course, really think about the exact thing that you are including in that course; what is the transformation that you are delivering, but make it so that you can have other ones because you want to have multiple offers. When somebody buys something from you, you want to have other things that they can also buy from you.

So tip number 2 again repeating it; do not throw everything into one course, for multiple reasons.

3. Size isn’t important.

Now, one of my motivations at the time when I made Blog Masters Club was that I want to blow people away. I want to give them a massive amount of value but in my case, what happened was I confused massive amount of value with massive amount of stuff. And there was, I think about 30 hours of video training inside the Blog Masters Club… I mean, it was a beast!

Now, let us contrast that with what I do today inside the Blog Monetization Lab… My primary method of training is what I call Action Plans. And these Action Plans are very “outcome based”. Each one is designed to be a system that guides a person through doing a fairly specific thing. And the amount of theory, the amount of information or training that I provide in an Action Plan is only enough to get them to that outcome. I am not pussyfooting around with a bunch of other stuff, I am not trying to impress anybody with how big it is; it is about getting the outcome, getting the transformation.

And so my Action Plans today are a lot more laser focused. And for that reason, I think they are truly a lot more effective than these big courses. Now, even courses that are not as big as what Blog Masters Club was, even these large 5 or 6 module courses that you see out today, they are great and many of them are very, very valuable. But I happen to think; and my students have told me this, that having a laser targeted outcome, action based training is more effective because you are truly just guiding them right to the outcome.

We know that people buy outcomes. They do not buy information. And so that is what I do with the Action Plans. It is much, much different and it all goes right to the heart of lesson number 3 which is that size really isn’t that important. What is important is how effective you deliver the outcome you promise. And if you can do that in 5 videos versus 30, do it in 5 videos.

4. Shorten your creation timeline.

Now I talked about this in the last episode; in Episode 120 where we talked about how to create your online course faster. And I talked about how you can do that by taking the time that it is going to take you to create that piece of training and to compress it together. So one of the things that I do with my Action Plans now is that I will schedule one or two days during the week and that is my main focus during the day; I create training. That is what I do. And I do not allow myself to go and get sidetracked by other topics. I literally block all that day for doing nothing but creating this training content. And I recommend that you do the same thing.

Now, another story back from my old days where I showed that this really worked was in my tech site days. This was before I ever started what was to become the Blog Marketing Academy. I ran a large tech site and we were creating our product line there, and the first product that I created was a book. It was an eBook called “Build Your Own PC” where it was literally a very involved tutorial guiding people how to build a computer. And we decided that we are going to create a video version of that.

Now, what did I do? Did I drag that thing out for a long time? No, not at all. I actually had a guy working for me at the time and I had him come over to the house and I had a table set up, we had the camera pointed at me, and we just banged out the “Build Your Own PC” DVD and I think we spent maybe 2 days total, doing it. And it was because he was there, it was live (not live as in people were watching me) but it was live in the fact that it was being recorded. I was literally sitting there on this table building a PC and we were going boom-boom-boom through the tutorial. And the result was I had a really beautiful DVD that I could sell to people and I could also bundle it with the book and have a little higher priced offer for people who wanted to not only have the written tutorial but also watch me do it on video and it was great. It has created a really nice product to add to the PC Mech Library and we did it in a couple of days.

So it all goes to show that when you can create your product in a shorter time period as possible you will get it done, you will be able to create more of them and not only that; it is probably going to be better because you are not allowing yourself to get distracted by lots of other things while you are in the process of creating that training for people.

So that is Tip no. 4, shorten your creation timeline.

5. Provide clear control.

Now we have talked about the idea of controlling your student in the prior episode. I want to say if we go back to Episodes 118 and 119, we talked about this. But you need to provide clear control of your students when they go through your course rather than allowing them a major free for all when they get in.

The thing is… it is not about the information.
It is about them actually doing it and getting the outcome.

And in order for them to do it and get the outcome, most likely they are going to have to go through it in a certain order. Whereas, most students, if you allow them to have free for all access, what is going to happen is they are go into a massive consumption mode probably out of order. And what is going to happen is they are probably just going to get confused, they are going to be overwhelmed, they are not going to know where to start.

You are going to have those consumer-types of people who are just going to ram through all the training videos that you created and they think they are done. They are probably not actually have done anything; they just watched all your videos and they are like, “This is it?” And then you know, sometimes they would even come back and they will ask for a refund even though they have watched everything and they will email back and are going to be like, “I thought there was more to this…” And I’m… I’m sitting there thinking “Did you do any of it?” Especially when they come back; and I have had this happen, not very often but I have had it happen where people will go through it, they ram through it and then they will say that didn’t really worked. And the answer is they did not do anything! They just watched the videos and they were confusing watching the training videos with actually doing something to grow their business!

Basically, they are being kind of dumb. You know, I am just going to be honest and call it like it is. They are being kind of dumb; I am not going to waste my time with people like that. But the way to get around that is you have to provide clear control. When they come into the training you have to say “This is where you start.” And then you are going to be very clear throughout “This is what you do next.” And then when you want them to go and apply something you say “Stop watching this video and I want you to go and do this” You tell them exactly what to do and you tell them not to come back until they are done. And you have got to tell them very clearly what to do and in what order. And that is what I mean by providing clear control. You will get students that get the results a lot more effectively and a lot more predictively if you just straight up tell them what to do. Do not allow them to self-guide and all that. You be the authority. They came to you to learn and you need to take on that mantel of mentor to them during the course of this training and tell them what to do.

So that is a real important lesson… Provide clear control.

6. Do not use cutesy product titles.

Now, I have learned this one the hard way and I still sometimes screw it up, to be honest with you. I make pretty good training products all in all but I can’t say that naming a product has always been my strength. Case in point, Blog Masters Club… I mean, think about that! The word “club”. It was not a club! It was a training course! So why did I call it that? Blog Masters Club. 😀

Here is another example… One of my very first products that I created was called 3 Day Money. This product does not exist anymore; nowhere does it exist, but it was called 3 Day Money. Now, when you hear about that product title, what does it communicate to you? It probably communicates something along the lines of you are going to make money in 3 days. But nowhere in the training that I made that promise because I don’t believe it is possible in some cases unless you have got a lot of assets in place. I have never been one of those types of people who are going to promise you can make money online super-fast out of thin air because it is just not possible. I mean, there are certain foundations that have to be in place. But yet, that product title “3 Day Money” could easily lead people down that. And it was also very vague. Money? I mean, okay, “money”… how? Am I showing you how to create an eBay business in 3 days? No, I wasn’t. But it was very vague.

Another one… Time Master Formula. Now this was a course that (It’s funny because I renamed it and even the new name was not that great) but it was a course on time management and really like managing your time and energy to really get as much done as possible with every amount of time that you have to work on your business. Now, “Time Master Formula”… It just was not that great of a name. What is a Time Master? I mean, what??? It doesn’t make sense! The funny thing is I went and renamed that to “How To Step Into Your “A” Game”. And that is still what it is called. It is still a course inside the Blog Monetization Lab; I’m just still not a real big fan of what it is called. Maybe I will re-brand that yet again; I don’t know. 😉

Oh, here’s the last one… What is now called the Blog Monetization Lab, it originally started as something called “Inner Circle”. Okay, great. What does that mean to anybody? It doesn’t mean jack! There is just no outcome communicated in there. And then I renamed that to “VIP”. Once again, VIP to what??? The word VIP is used in so many different context around the world in everybody’s life. It doesn’t mean that much to anybody there. You cannot say VIP Program and they are going to be like, “Oh, I know what that is about.” because it doesn’t mean anything. So I re-branded it to what is now called Blog Monetization Lab. 🙂

Now, is there any doubt with that word “Blog Monetization Lab” what that thing has to do with? No. You know it is about blogging, you know it is specifically about making money with it because that is what the word “monetization” means. And that goes to the heart of this particular tip. Do not use “cutesy” product titles that do not mean that much. Instead, what you want to do is name your products something that will clearly communicate the desired outcome that you are going to get with that product.

That is a really important one and I made a lot of mistakes in this regard. And I will give you an example of a right one and it is because I am now not creating major big online training courses. I am mainly focusing on these Action Plans inside the Blog Monetization Lab, but the newest one that is out and it will probably be out by the time this episode comes out is called “Product Creation Blueprint” and it is an Action Plan inside the Blog Monetization Lab. It has everything to do with creating effective products to sell to your audience. Now is there any doubt what that is about? Product-Creation-Blueprint. I didn’t get all cutesy with the title. I just went right to the heart; kept it fairly short, and went right to the heart of what it is about and what the outcome is going to be.

So that is how we are going to end off. These are the 6 Hard-Learned Lessons… Things that I screwed up and then got it a lot better later on. And hopefully that will save you some time and some effort as you go into this now.

And I also want to end off reminding you about that Product Creation Blueprint. The newest Action Plan into the Blog Monetization Lab; into the library inside the Lab, but all the other Action Plans are laser focused on various aspects of building your business so you will have a predictable sense of order as to how to actually pull it off. The whole idea of the Lab is that you will not be overwhelmed about what to do next and when; is to provide a clear progression, a clear system to actually build the blog-based online business that you are looking to build. So if you want to get started on that with me today, and work more with me in that regard, you can join the Blog Monetization Lab and learn more about that.

Once again, thank you so much for listening to Coffee Break Blogging. If you are finding these episodes useful, I would highly appreciate a quick review and rating inside of iTunes… And I look forward to reading your reviews. 🙂

Thank you so much and I will see you next time!