January 30, 2006 Program Summary
Presentation and summary by Adele Sommers

An Overview of Creating and Marketing Your Own Digital Information Products

Our January 30th event attracted a crowd of aspiring information product producers as well as a variety of skilled people who can help creators reach their goals.

Speaker Adele SommersThis session was Part 2 of a two-part series covering both printed and digital products:

  • In Part 1 in January 2005, speaker Lori Rai focused primarily on creating printed products.

  • In Part 2, I (Adele Sommers) launched into the world of “info-preneuring” — the term used to describe the creation of information-based products that you can produce and market in a variety of ways for many different purposes. I concentrated primarily on digital products, which include many things that also can be delivered in physical form.

  • If you are interested in learning more, please let us know what your interests are (e-mail Adele@LearnShareProsper.com).

You Can Watch the Movie...

Movie screenI've recorded the slide show presentation as a set of narrated Flash-based videos with an accompanying note-taking guide.

Please note that the presentation and guide contain details that do not appear in the highlights below.

The presentation is divided into short sections for convenient viewing. All videos were created using Camtasia Studio.

Click this link if you want to:

  • Watch an 86-second QuickTime “Sneak Preview”
  • Watch the 43-minute Flash video series

...Or Read the Highlights:

Here's a little background information. My personal story — a case study if you will — started a few years ago. Professionally, I specialize in human and business performance, which is a superset of instructional design and technical communication. I had a strong corporate and academic background with many pockets of valuable knowledge that just weren’t being used. I had finally reached a point in my career where I needed to find a way to create, showcase, and disseminate my knowledge and ideas in the areas about which I was passionate, even if it meant repackaging it for new audiences.

Eventually, I stumbled onto a model being used on the Internet that involved something called “information products.” I immediately began to study the process in earnest, and then sat down to write a plan of action. Nearly two years later, I've completed two books and several other publications, and have launched a Web site at LearnShareProsper.com.

Much like Lori Rai's Part 1 presentation, I created my own case study that involved my personal research on what it takes to create and market digital information products. And although I’m definitely still on a learning curve, I’ve gotten some positive and sometimes surprising results from my efforts so far. This event offered a great way to share my findings and lessons learned to date. Here are the key points I covered:

Why is this topic so important?
  • Global competition, cooperation, and consumption are increasing. This means we have both new challenges and opportunities arising simultaneously.Samples of information products

  • As information professionals, we face shifting occupational trends. For example, in various countries, some information design and software development work that was once done domestically is now being performed by professionals elsewhere.

  • Many people with similar skills compete in a crowded marketplace. Worldwide, we’ve all seen some challenging times as we adjust to the aftermath of the dot.com-fueled recession, and other significant world events.

  • Information products offer new opportunities to spark attention and add value. This is the main premise I shared during the presentation.

  • You can use information products to create new audiences for your skills. I offered a variety of ideas for consideration, and I hope they supply useful food for thought.
This presentation addressed 3 important questions:
  • Question 1: What are information products, and how do we ourselves consume them?

  • Question 2: Why would we want to produce information products?

  • Question 3: How do you create and market digital or physical information products?

Question 1: What are information products, and how do we ourselves consume them?

  • Definition: Here’s a meaning I derived that doesn’t yet appear in any official dictionary. I like to think of an information product as:

    Any form of knowledge derived from study, experience, or instruction that is packaged for human consumption.

  • Information products are really a form of self-expression. They represent a powerful vehicle for sharing anything from a “how-to” guide to a collection of one’s ideas, philosophy, innovations, or knowledge. They can be destinations in and of themselves, or part of the journey toward greater visibility and recognition for an even broader purpose.

  • Information products can assume a variety of forms. Speaker Adele Sommers
    Examples can include online digital and media-based items, such as books, e-books, publications, articles, tools, newsletters, audio programs, multimedia productions, home study courses, training programs, tutorials, software systems, games, tips, recorded interviews, audio messages, directories, membership information sites, and more.
  • As consumers, we seek information for a wide variety of uses.
    Examples: Education and training, entertainment, research and knowledge exchange, and work or task support tools
  • Where do we ourselves, as consumers, seek information?
    We are constantly searching for specific information on the Internet. We often look in well-known book-selling venues, such as Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com, but we also retrieve descriptions of information products — without necessarily realizing it — from many other sites and search engines, such as Google.com, Yahoo.com, and eBay.com.

Question 2: Why would we want to produce information products?

  • We have a wealth of core skills and knowledge on which to build.

    -- Information gathering and development skills
    -- Media production skills
    -- Web site design and construction skills
    -- Collaboration, project, and team skills
    -- Ability to create once and output in many forms
    -- Knowledge and expertise gained through careers and hobbies
  • Also, there are exciting new areas to learn or better understand.
    This is an opportunity to build a bridge from what you already know how to do to an expanded skill set that rests solidly on your existing foundation. We as information professionals typically need to learn more about:Man thinking

    -- E-commerce technology: shopping carts, merchant accounts, and online stores.

    -- Information delivery tools and techniques. These include telephone or Web-based seminars, automated follow-up tools, and broadcasting methods such as newsletters. Some of these tools and techniques are used in off-line traditional marketing, and others are unique to the Internet world.

    -- And, there are other types of online and offline marketing and publicity to learn.

What are the incentives? What's in it for us?

Producing info-products can offer many benefits and career opportunities. By creating and showcasing one or more information products of your own, you can:

-- Add pizzazz to your professional portfolio Student thinking

-- Become broadly recognized in your areas of expertise

-- Build credibility with prospective clients, employers, or customers

-- Re-purpose knowledge gained through career or hobbies for new audiences

-- Exercise your creativity and apply your skills and knowledge in ways that may be completely distinct from the work you have been doing in the past

-- Create additional income streams beyond your professional activities

-- Increase your communication and marketing opportunities to both existing and future clients or customers

-- Develop an impressive marketing platform from which to woo a traditional publisher, if that is what you are seeking

-- Attract a global audience base for your academic, professional, or commercial endeavors

Question 3: How do you create and market information products?

Here’s a 7-step process for creating digital or physical information products.
This is a generic plan that might apply to something like an e-book or a mini-course. Each high-level step has many sub-steps below it, and can act as a checklist to help you be sure you’ve completed all applicable activities. (See the note-taking guide for details, or listen to the recorded presentation.)

1. Research and Plan Your Product or Program

2. Assemble a Team and Start Designing the Content

3. Further Develop and Review the Core Material

4. Finalize the Content & Narrow Down Your Production Options

5. Develop and Launch a Business and Marketing Plan

6. Create Additional Promotional Tools

7. Continue to Expand and Test Your Marketing

Side note: In October, 2004, we held an STC event on “Professional Liability, Intellectual Property, and Other Hot Legal Issues” specifically to help provide information that publishers might need to know. Various steps listed above should include certain kinds of legal reviews.

Here are 7 myths to dispel about marketing information products:

  • Myth #1: Your main goal is to get people to buy your products as quickly as possible.Wise man dispelling myths

  • Myth #2: You have to pay a lot to get good promotional exposure online.

  • Myth #3: You shouldn’t give away information for free.

  • Myth #4: There are clear distinctions among products, services, and marketing tools.

  • Myth #5: People with similar offerings are competitors you should avoid.

  • Myth #6: You can make a lot of money quickly using information products.

  • Myth #7: The faster your rise to stardom, the better.

In conclusion...

  • Don’t risk being overcome by competition, obsolescence, or unfulfilled dreams

  • You can use information products to create new audiences for your talents

  • The types of products you produce will depend on your goals

  • Using a 7-step process, you’ll lay a solid foundation for success!


Others Who Can Assist Information Product Creators:

  • Lori Rai (presenter for Part 1) is a business instructor and consultant with the Mission Community Services Corporation (MCSC). As a longtime entrepreneur and business owner, she's gained broad expertise that she now shares with aspiring authors and small business owners in the community, and advises people interested in publishing their own work. You can reach Lori at 805-473-9025.

  • Bruce Mills, B.F.A., M.B.A. is the principal of Lone Pine Studio in Paso Robles, providing graphic design, Web design and development, illustration, documentation, technical publishing, marketing, and business consulting to clients in SLO County and beyond. You can reach Bruce at bruce@lonepinestudio.com (please include a reference to 'STC' in the subject line of e-mails).

    v: 805-237-0507
    f: 805-237-0749
    Service categories:
    - Cross-media publishing
    - Digital imaging & print production
    - Illustration & graphic design
    - Internet development
    - Product marketing

  • Dianne Legro is a Presentation Coaching Expert who specializes in helping you express your essence, passion and values and to grow your ability to strategize verbally to get the results you want. One to one coaching and corporate trainings are available. She specializes in communication skills, presentation skills, job search skills, leadership communication, leadership presence, sales, and more. For keynote speaker, consultant, or trainer information, contact Dianne at:

    Speaking Success International
    tel 805-534-9535

  • Bob Dumouchel is the principal of On With Learning, a distributor that specializes in organizational training products. Bob can assist you in the sales, marketing, and distribution of training products and would prefer to work with producers before the product is created. The product must be designed for the organizational market, not the consumer market. Extended information about whom we sell to is available on our web site at http://videoed.com/customers.html. You can reach Bob at:

    On With Learning Inc.
    191 S. Oak Park Blvd, Suite 4
    Grover Beach, CA 93433
    email: info@VideoEd.com
    Phone (800) 272-0887, Local (805) 481-0118
    Fax (800) 508-0487, Local (805) 481-0252

Speaker photograph provided by Adele Sommers; others are stock photos or Adele's screen shots
An Overview of Creating and Marketing Your Own Digital Information Products
Date: Monday evening, January 30, 2006

Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the 2002-06 president of the San Luis Obispo STC chapter, and has been an independent business consultant and technical communication contractor for the last ten years.

Adele is the principal of an Internet-based enterprise that specializes in business performance publications, tools, and education (LearnShareProsper.com). She has developed an award-winning business success program after having spent over two decades helping individuals and companies of all sizes enhance results in the areas of project and process management, information design, quality assurance, instruction, performance support, usability, and leadership. Contact her at Adele@LearnShareProsper.com.


“An Overview of Creating and Marketing Your Own Digital Information Products was Part 2 of a series on creating, publishing, and promoting your own work. (Please see the summary of Part 1 at https://slostc.org/events/jan31.html.)

The goal was to provide a bird's eye view of the what, why, and how of developing information products, and to explain the potential value of creating them for people in any of these roles: CEO, manager, service professional, sole proprietor, entrepreneur, or aspiring author, developer, or teacher.


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