I see a lot of purpose-driven entrepreneurs become frustrated with the mentoring they're receiving. And a big part of that is because of the focus their coaches and consultants place on information products and leveraged programs (such as teleclasses) as the magic avenue to wealth.
Info products can be a great way to organize your process, leverage your time and earn passive or semi-passive income.
The challenge is in finding people to buy them. Most people in their first year or two of business simply don't have the online or offline audience numbers (prospects) to generate real income from leveraged products.
If you're not familiar with the terminology, leveraged income means creating more income in less time. It means you're "leveraging your time." An example would be for a coach to work with a small group and charge half as much per person, which might generate 3 times as much income per hour as one 1:1 client.
Passive income is where you work once, and get paid over and over. An example is a music royalty or in the case of transformation professionals, selling a self-study info product, where you are not involved at all with the customer.
There are natural phases with owning a transformation business, and to make the best use of your time, I'd recommend focusing as follows:
First 6-12 months: Learn the necessary how-tos, set up the infrastructure of your business, create a vision and strategy, hone your skills at your chosen profession (i.e. if you're a life coach, coach as many people as you can, whether or not they pay you) and gather detailed feedback from every person you work with. Begin to build a following.
Second year: Notice the process that's emerged naturally as you've worked with clients. (This is your future info product!) Notice who you've liked working with and who you didn't enjoy working with. Why? Notice the transformation your clients tend to have and at what point this tends to happen in your work with them. Notice why people refer others to you — what kinds of problems these people tend to have that someone thinks you can solve. Notice what processes you tend to do over and over with clients and what unique issues tend to emerge that they need your personal help solving (where an info product just wouldn't do).
Continue to gather feedback and formulate testimonials or case studies of your work with clients. Get specific feedback — very important. Continue to build a following and ramp this up! Create income solutions that leverage your time, but still involve you as the solution (like working with groups).
Third year: Position yourself as a top expert in your niche. Build a much larger following. Use the case studies to give you credibility. Get into the media and on stage, or publish your book. Take your process(es) that's emerged and see if any of it can be carved out to form self-study products or programs. Name it and organize it in a way people can understand. Create passive income solutions from this content, if you can. Offer it to your audience, either in book form, as a product, as a keynote talk or in classes. If you've built a substantial audience by this time, you should receive a nice cash injection!
Fourth year: Continue to build your audience and your momentum, and offer the product again. No need to re-invent the wheel! Leverage what you've already created. Go big! See what other processes or solutions could be carved out into fresh, new info products or leveraged solutions.
If you approach your business this way, you'll make better use of your time and you'll have realistic outcomes and far fewer disappointments. You'll also know what to spend your money on, since there is no reason to buy programs you aren't ready for. There's no need to spend time during your first year or two creating content-based programs, when you don't have an audience to buy them! Your job your first year is to learn how to run a business, hone your skills with clients and gather testimonials, or proof, that you do good work.
Believe it or not, your niche and your signature solutions will probably not even emerge until your second or third year. Let it happen organically. Only then does it make sense to invest the time in creating passive income solutions.
PS Don't buy into the hype about info products. They take a long time to create and you need big numbers to make the profits the gurus talk about. You will eventually be able to cash in, but make sure you aren't wasting your time doing this too early on in your business.
Why not share your ideas below about this blog post? I'd love to hear what you have to say.