Find An Idea

A beginner’s guide to information product ideas

Imagine all business product types on a matrix. You could do a physical product. Or build software. Or run a service business. When it comes to building an online business there are essentially six paths you can take. Each has different costs and earning potentials. Here, let’s graph them out:

The businesses that fall in the upper-right part are commonly called information products. Information product ideas are products you sell that convey knowledge or information (e.g., e-books and online courses). They’re in the area where there’s:

  1. Low cost (i.e., doesn’t cost you a lot of money to make)
  2. High earning potential (i.e., makes you a LOT of money)

The best part is you can create products relatively quickly (depending on which information product ideas you choose) AND those products generate passive income.

Check out how much money GrowthLab made in just one day selling online courses a few years back.

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Not all information product ideas are made equal though. What works for one business might not work very well for you at all.

That’s why I want to break down your options for information product ideas, give you a few good places to start, and take a look at examples of information products that have helped people grow their business.

But first, we need to answer a very important question: WTF is an information product anyway?

WTF is an information product?

Any product that conveys knowledge or information for educational purposes is an information product.

Chances are you’ve purchased an information product already and used them in your everyday life.

Not all information products are digital either. Information products can exist in the form of DVDs, CDs, traditional books, and even services like coaching or consulting.

However, it’s when you create a digital information product (i.e., one that doesn’t require the overhead of a physical product) that you can start to see huge growing potentials.

4 information product ideas you can start today

We’re going to pretend we’re running a new business. It’s a fitness website catered towards twenty-something content marketers called “Muscle Up.”

Yeah, it’s a crappy name — but we’re playing pretend remember?

As the founder of Muscle Up, you’ve built a solid list of subscribers and have been churning out helpful blog posts for a while. So now you think it’s the perfect time to sell your first information product.

Let’s take a look at a few different options that are perfect for you as the founder of Muscle Up and beginner entrepreneur who wants to create their first information product.

For each product, I’ll give you the price you can sell one unit for and the time it takes to produce the product.

Information product idea #1: Books / E-Books

Ramit's 2007 Guide to Kicking Ass

The best e-book ever.

  • Price: $10 – $50 per book
  • Time to make: 2 – 8 weeks

E-books are those things that you keep downloading but never get around to reading. Luckily, plenty of other people are willing to pay you money to gain your valuable muscle-building knowledge.

They’re deceptively simple to make too. Since you’ve been frequently blogging and providing valuable content to your readers already on Muscle Up’s website, you can use those exact same blog posts and compile them into one awesome resource for your readers.

The best part? It will keep generating a stream of income once you write it — much like the other information product ideas on this list.

A few great examples:

  1. “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day” by Nomadic Matt. Travel expert Nomadic Matt dishes out knowledge for any wannabe budget travelers out there. Cost: $5.99
  2. “6 Steps to a Radio-Ready Song” by Graham Cochrane. Learn how to create awesome songs with this e-book. Cost: $17
  3. “Your Move: The Underdog’s Guide to Building Your Business” by Ramit Sethi. A no-nonsense guide to building an online business. By us. Cost: $7.99
  4. “Take Off: How to Travel the World with Next to Nothing” by Bryce Conway. Take a deep dive into the world of travel hacking with this guide. Cost: $14.95
  5. “Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful, and Less Stressed” by Paula Rizzo. Television producer Paula Rizzo shows you how to be more productive and get more done through the art of list making. Cost: $9.99

So now you have Muscle Up’s first e-book, “Every Day is Leg Day: How to Scare People When You Wear Shorts. Now you want to be able to engage a bit more with your community while making money. That’s when you can turn to…

Information product idea #2: Coaching

Try not to punch your clients (unless you’re Jim Harbaugh).

  • Price: $200 – $1,000+ per hour
  • Time required: 1 – 3 hours per session

Coaching is one of the fastest information product ideas to get started with. This is when you offer one-on-one guidance and teaching to a client in your area of expertise.

And they’re awesome for a few reasons:

  • Many customers / clients are willing to pay premium prices for coaching. That means your income can explode with just a few clients on your coaching roster.
  • You can meet with customers in person, with video conferencing (Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.), or even over the phone. This flexibility allows you to cater to customers all over the world — improving your chances of getting clients.
  • You get to effectively conduct customer research with coaching. You can tap into their fears, goals, and vulnerabilities by interacting with your clients through one-on-one coaching. (Also you have the opportunity to get glowing testimonials from your customers.) You can then use these learnings to help more people using another idea on this list.

There are a few downsides to coaching though. You need to be more involved in order to make money since you’re offering a one-on-one service. That means a lot of continuous work and sweat equity in order to make money.

You are literally selling your time for money, and that has a natural limit. Unless you’re this guy:

giphy 1

But that shouldn’t detract from the fact that coaching is a great information product idea utilized by beginners AND advanced earners.

A few great examples:

  1. IntrovertedAlpha.com. Sarah Jones offers up weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly coaching in dating for introverted men across four program tracks. Cost: $3,800 / 3 months, $7,000 / 3 months
  2. JohnFawkes.com. Fitness and wellness coach John Fawkes offers up remote coaching sessions for folks who want to eat healthier, work out better, and get great sleep. Cost: $14.99 / week
  3. GreaterThanRubies.net. Style coach Caitlin Skidmore offers style consultation for women in specific life situations (mothers, 40–year-olds+, etc.). Cost: $99

Unlike a few of the other information product ideas on this list, you don’t necessarily need a huge list of subscribers or a bunch of readers on your blog to make a lot of money with coaching. You can get started with coaching quickly since all you need is a handful of people willing to pay.

So you’ve had a few readers reach out to you already asking if you do coaching for Muscle Up. It turns out they’re willing to pay you thousands for gym sessions where you show them proper lifting form. Soon you have a nice list of clients you’re meeting with weekly to improve their workouts.

You soon discover that there’s the potential to build a community of devotees. That’s when you turn to another information product idea…

Information product idea #3: Membership site

Members only jackets

Jacket optional.

  • Price: $10 – $100+ per month
  • Time to make: 1 – 4 weeks

A membership site is a website that requires a paid membership or subscription to access. Frequently it will include valuable, exclusive content and can even roll in other information product ideas such as e-books and online courses.

Membership sites are perfect for any information that requires frequent updating (e.g., airline fares). This provides your clients with a consistent source of knowledge that’ll send them right to your site.

A few other benefits of having a membership website:

  • You provide your clients with a community wherein they can interact with you and each other.
  • Consistent stream of recurring revenue from your members and you have the choice of billing them annually or monthly.
  • Model is easily scalable. You’re only limited by the number of people interested and willing to pay.

However the membership site model isn’t for every entrepreneur or every business. You have to consistently provide premium content to your members, which requires a lot of sweat equity. Membership sites also require a fairly complex technical setup and maintaining a community is a never-ending job. It’s also tough to start: people won’t come to your site unless there are … other people there.

Like every other information product on this list, you should ask yourself: Will a membership site service my business better than another information product?

For example, if your business taught clients how to find the best restaurant deals in major cities around the world, you might want to consider a membership site. That way you can keep your clients updated on the very best food deals.

However, if your business helps customers teach their dogs how to fetch a beer from the fridge, a membership site won’t service your needs as well.

Check out these great examples of membership sites:

  1. NextVacay.com. Zero to Launch student Naveen Dittakavi helps his members find amazing deals on airfare using a sophisticated airline tracking algorithm. Cost: $25 / year
  2. ReflexionYoga.com. Learn yoga on your own time with this members-only fitness site. Cost: $9 / month
  3. CountryGuitarOnline.com. Channel your inner Willie Nelson and learn how to pick along with the best of them with these guitar lessons. Cost: $9.95 / month
  4. ScottsBassLessons.com. Get the best beginner tips and lesson to slappa da bass, mon (terrible Jamaican accent not necessary). Cost: $168 / year
  5. PencilKings.com. For artists who want to find a community of creative individuals as well as artistic instruction from the pros. Cost: $29.95 / month

You decide that a membership site is perfect for Muscle Up. You build a community of devoted clients who want to get fit and healthy, and you offer them premium content like videos and blog posts from professional bodybuilders on how to achieve a great body.

There’s another information product idea that’ll help Muscle Up build recurring revenue and offer amazing value to your clients…

Information product idea #4: Online courses

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  • Price: $100 – $1,000 + per course
  • Time to make: 1 month – 1+ years

Online courses are a low-risk, high-reward information product that allow you to reach people all over the world. The best part? You don’t need a bunch of design acumen or knowledge or coding.

In fact, it can be something as simple as PowerPoint slides and a voiceover by you. You can start building these courses today if you wanted.

Online courses are also easily scalable. This means once you build it, you can start to take on as many customers as you’re able to attract. This is the main way we make money with GrowthLab and our sister site: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

You don’t need to try and get each and every one of your readers to buy your course either. When GrowthLab CEO Ramit Sethi released his first online course, he discovered that 80% of his revenue came from just 4% of his email subscribers.

You don’t need a huge list. What you need is to simply get started.

Here are a few great examples of online courses that rock:

  1. Nerd Fitness Academy. Get fit and strong even if you’re so nerdy, you make Urkel look like George Clooney. Includes meal plans, workout regimens, and access to a community of fitness-minded nerds. Cost: $149
  2. A Strenuous Life. Brett McKay and the Art of Manliness team give you a course on how to better yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually. By the end of the 12-week bootcamp, your mustache will be growing a mustache. Cost: $199.99
  3. Study Hero. For the student who wants to become a star in their class and ace the courses without the stress. Learn the best study systems as well as test-taking techniques to turbocharge your GPA. Cost: $79
  4. Emotional Resilience. Tree Franklyn helps women manage their emotions through a system of resilience. Perfect for anyone who just wants to stop feeling overwhelmed all the time. Cost: $195
  5. Total Home Recording. Graham Cochrane teaches you how to build out studio quality sound from the comfort of your own home. Cost: $297

To help you even more, check out this four-minute video from Ramit where he breaks down how to create and sell online courses.

Muscle Up’s new powerlifting course “Lift Big, Get Big” is a hit! Your customers are loving it and you’re surprised to find that it only took a small percentage of your readers purchasing it to turn a hefty profit.

How to start your own information product ideas

Congrats, now Muscle Up has four amazing hypothetical information product ideas that helped make you imaginary money.

Now it’s time to turn our pretend playing into a reality and build your own information product ideas. To start, GrowthLab has the following articles that will teach you the step-by-step process for choosing the right product:

Once you’re finished we want to offer you a free PDF that’ll help you start making money from your information product ideas:

How to find your first coaching client
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