You can create a short ebook right now. Even if you couldn’t learn one more thing you know enough right now to create something useful for a group of at least a thousand people. That’s an absurdly low number; it’s probably closer to a million. Whether you want to make a product or not, do the following exercise. It’s worth it just to realize that you have enough in you right now to write a book or teach a course. There are ways to make information products without actually knowing anything about the topic and we’ll get into that later this week but for now we need to talk about actually forming the thang.
Commit right (write!) now to completing Steps 1 through 4. If you just do those those you will feel your brain becoming a better idea machine.
(This is almost identical to the process that I used to create SelfMadeU which I talked about in The Birth of a Product. Just finished the first draft – so excited to share it with you Bros!)
Step 1: Make a list of all the things you think you could teach a course in. Select the one that is most exciting to you. If you can’t think of one then stop being such a dick to yourself. Lower the bar a little bit and remember that no ‘experts’ know everything about what they talk about. Check out the short documentary “The Trouble With Experts” that I put below. It’s difficult to realize that what is obvious to us is usually what we know better than anyone else. What to people ask you for advice with? What do you spend time researching? What do you spend time practicing?
Step 2: Get specific. What are the important things you could teach about this? List ideas for what you could teach about your “expertise”.
Step 3: Define who your target market is. Who could use this information you have? Test them to make sure they are viable. We already made a simple guide to test any target market in “3 Steps to Validate Your Business For FREE … almost“.
Step 4: List the benefits they will receive from taking your course or reading your book. Go straight to the primary benefits. If you’re making a product about playing the piano like Mozart then you will want to talk about everything that happens because of the new skills. It’s obvious they will be able to play the piano – but paint a picture of all the other benefits that come along with it: get the girl, feel confident in your creative outlet, create something beautiful, find balance in your life.
Lists will save your Brain and therefore your Life — WRITE DON’T JUDGE
Step 5: Decide the form you want your product to take. Will it be an ebook? A series of audio lectures? A series of videos? A workbook? What do you think the best form is for your idea? Right now pick the one to think of. The most straightforward is creating a PDF ebook. I like to start with this because I know I will finish it. If later on you feel like expanding your ebook into a video course then you have everything you need to do so. I’m nearly done with another post on all the different ways you can make a course (some without knowing any information yourself), really excited to show you!
Step 6: Make a list of potential titles. This list should be a HUGE list. Remember: NO judgment – just writewritewrite! Also, you don’t need to pick one exactly now. You can change this whenever you want. It’s good to have a working title so you feel like you’re writing (or creating in another way) to complete something worth while.
Your title will become hugely important during sales. Put each idea through this test (remember, don’t worry about these until you’ve made the list!):
- Does it grab peoples’ attention?
- What emotional response does it elicit? Will that help it sell?
- Does it point at a solution to a problem?
- Does it make you want to take out your wallet?
this isn’t the aim!
Step 7: Who are you? I’m not trying to ignite an existential crisis. You need to define how you will present the information. Think about how your story intersects the information you are presenting. Are you an expert? Are you a loner who accidentally learned some interesting skills? Are you a college dropout that saw the BS in the system? Are you obsessed with the thing you’re teaching people about? Have you interviewed a bunch of experts to find your information? Have you read the entire internet in search of your information? What was your quest!? It doesn’t really matter as long as you are compelling. We are all so interesting when we let ourselves be. Every single person has such a fascinating story. If you don’t see it then ask your friend what they see. Remember that while you write every sentence should be dripping with your personality (are you soaked in mine yet?) – it’s the quickest and most fun way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Step 8: How do you want to organize your information? Is it step by step? Is it comparing and contrasting two ideas? Is your information best displayed in modules? Is it a mix of these or something else? Look at popular books you’ve seen on bestseller lists for ideas on how you could organize your information.
Step 9: Write your table of contents. I like to go back to the list I made of everything I could teach for this course and expand on it. Think the other lists you’ve made and use them to bring more ideas out. Break your ebook down into chunks and then make a list for each chunk. Spend some time with this but don’t worry about it being perfect. As you are creating the project you will feel inspired to add more sections and you may realize other sections weren’t as big as you thought. The table of contents will certainly shift. At the same time, you want to make it as accurate as possible. This is going to be your guide while creating your product. Aim for three to six key points for every section. You got this!
Step 10: Create due dates and a timeline. You need to feel responsible for creating this thing or it won’t happen.
My favorite way to force myself to finish a writing project is setting a minimum amount of words I must write every day. And make it LOW. I like writing a lot but I know some days are better than others. Some days every word I write is garbage and other days (not many) I look in the mirror and see a genius. So what I do is force myself to write 1000 words on my priority project. This might turn into 8000 words but probably not. Maybe 1000 words is too many. If you’re just starting maybe you want to set a 500 word minimum. Keep it low!
This kind type of technique is used by Jerry Seinfeld as well. He says you want to keep a daily chain of low minimums to hit for each goal. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
The key is that you can’t sleep until you’ve written your X words for the day. It doesn’t matter if they’re unusable, it only matters that they’re there.
Give it six weeks for your first ebook– that’s 21,000 words if you’re writing 500 words every day. You’ll be writing a lot more than that once you get into the swing of things though.
Remember that this is the first draft! This is going to be ugly! The important part is that you are getting words (read: information!) on the page. Even if you know you’re typing garbage keep typing! I can’t say this enough. You will at some point probably feel like everything you’ve written is terrible, nobody wants it, you aren’t in any position to be teaching it, people will disagree and hate you for it, and other terrible things. That’s good! That only means you are on the right track. I promise. If you don’t believe me, ask any writer or entrepreneur about their moments of doubt and you’ll realize that anybody that has done anything worthwhile has experienced profound doubt. I experience it constantly. Then I hit “publish” or show it to a friend or launch it and my faith is renewed. If you need other examples, check this out.
“Don’t break the chain”
Step 11: Stay accountable. My favorite way to stay accountable to my goals so far is an app for the iPhone called “Lift”. It lets you check off that you did your goal each day. You can choose to share this or not. If other people have the same goal as you (there are about 50 people right now in my pool of “Write 1000 words.”) then you can see who else is keeping their goals. It keeps track of your progress with charts that you can look back on and see how you’ve been doing.
Step 12: Editing. While you’re here reading this, this step obviously doesn’t matter. You haven’t written your words. At best you’ve written your outline. Here are a couple things about editing that you may remember:
- Does it make sense?
- Does it flow?
- Don’t over-edit! We need your personality desperately!
- Is it helpful in this form?
Step 13: Formatting. When the whole thing is done then decide on a format for it. Check out other ebooks and courses and see what you like. A great example of a simple ebook PDF (and a valuable resource for anybody looking to create an info product) is 18 Months, 2 Blogs, Six Figures. It’s written by Corbett Barr of ThinkTraffic, a big inspiration for StartupBros. You will notice that ebooks tend to be done in landscape. Here are some basics on turning your words into an ebook:
- Put words into Word or something like that
- Change your page size to eight inches wide by six inches high – that’s landscaped!
- Keep the font readable
- Make big fat headlines
- Save it as a PDF
If this thing is really great you may want to have a designer fix you up with a nice look. If this thing is really great you may want to spend some money to launch it. Then you may want to turn it into a full on video-course. Create a work book to go along with the course. Create mind maps or another type of notes that students can follow along with. Make There are tons of things you can do to add value to the ebook you’ve written. That’s for another post on another day when you’ve got some material to convert!
Step 14: Launch!! Get your product in front of eyes everywhere! How? Isn’t that the trick. How you should go about launching it will largely depend on your goal for it. Is your goal to just make money on this one course real quick? Are you trying to build a long-term business? Do you just want spread your idea to as many people as possible? Your goal will determine the type of launch you want to do. This is a MASSIVE topic to cover and we’ll be showing you exactly what tactics we use to launch SelfMadeU in the coming months. We’ll show you what works and what doesn’t.
There we go. 14 steps. If you’re just finishing reading this and you haven’t written anything down then you probably haven’t taken much value from this post. ACTION is the only way to make this shit real to YOU in your life NOW! Go back and make a list for Steps 1 and 2. Even if you have no plan of ever making a product I promise it will be worth it.
I’m going to go make a list of of ways I can organize the information I have down for SelfMadeU. Put your lists in the comments! GODSPEED BROS!