We’re focusing entirely on products that will basically sell themselves. This course isn’t intended to tell you to never write a memoir, but to be honest, if you want something that’s an easy sell, don’t write a memoir.
I teach classes on how to write books. I have written and published a memoir. Still, there’s a time and place for that kind of creative work. For the purposes of the next two weeks let’s put our creative ambition to the side and instead focus on things we can make that will sell well for reasons that make us feel good.
Things that sell:
- Extremely useful, hard to find information
- Solves a problem
- Explains how to do something that is relatively tricky to figure out
- The solution is a great reward
- Or the problem is impossible to ignore
Here are some examples:
Useful but easy to find:
You might have an idea to write a guide to the best beaches in Croatia. It’s useful to people traveling there because that’s one of the biggest draws. But if you google “Best Beaches in Croatia” you get a list of the best beaches from:
Conde Nast Traveler
The information is extremely easy to find and all the top travel publications have already written about it and are giving it away for free.
Hard to find, but not useful (to most people):
Perhaps you have another idea… you will teach people how to feed your dog an all raw-vegan diet based on quinoa and flaxseed. There are tons of vegan dog food recipes but none that somehow use uncooked quinoa. The only problem is that you either have to educate people during the sales process why they need this or you have to spend a lot of marketing time/money trying to reach the small pockets of people who are desperately searching for the same thing.
The sweet spot: hard to find and useful:
What always works is something that people want – something that saves them money, time, gives them a better experience, makes them happier – and it’s not easy to find this kind of advice or instruction.
That’s why good books sell so well, it’s something we all want to know, and it’s not immediately apparent or easy to find something that fixes this. My most popular ebooks to date:
- How start traveling the world within 30 days
- How to use your camera in manual mode
- How to get residency visas in Europe if you’re American (and not a student or retired)
So the shift that has to come begins from looking at the pain point you’re solving for your readers plus examining how easy it is for THEM to find that information.
What we want to avoid is figuring out a subject we know a lot about and then backing into that with what’s easy for US to write.
The old way: “I want to write an ebook about traveling around the UK by train, because last summer I did it and I know a lot about it.”
The new way: “I’ve heard a lot of people say they want to do something similar to my UK train trip but had problems finding hotels that accept pets – it’s the most common question on my blog! But with a little work I could make their lives so easy with a complete list of hotels – over 50 of them – that all accept pets plus notes on cool pet-friendly parks near each one. I keep writing these long emails to people but I think I need to start charging for this.”
So how do you start hearing the problems? Here are three methods:
1. You begin with what you know. What have you tried to figure out? What did you find missing when you researched it? What do you wish you had known? What has hard? What could have been handled differently?
2. Look to the feedback from your blog/website if applicable. What are the comments and emails saying? Respond to people. Answer their questions but keep listening. Go beyond the obvious. Ask questions as you go and start looking for trends.
*Don’t forget to check Google Analytics to get hints about which useful/how-to posts on your site are doing particularly well over months or years.
3. Branch out into the unknown. Want to offer the perfect hiking shoes on your hiking blog? Set out to find that product for yourself. Be the new user and start from scratch. Keep notes on the issues that arise as you test products and your solutions.
Start looking for clues. Join us in the FB group and share your product ideas! Yes there will be a lot of group feedback in this course, so jump on in, the water is fine. This is all going out into the real world soon enough, let’s work together to make it perfect!