You have undoubtedly noticed that information products are the top selling items on the Internet. In any niche. Information is mainly why people come to the Internet. And e-books outsell hardcover print books. So why, if I’m writing this short series of articles and blog posts on product creation/development am I not starting with info product development? Easy. It’s where all the competition is.
I started this subject because I’ve been encouraging folks who can’t find decent employment in recessions and “jobless recoveries” to find ways to employ themselves. That means they’ll probably not want to or be able to spend a lot of money to get started. That means doing stuff they already know how to do for markets they already know how to reach. It’s the approach of the solo entrepreneur or micro business.
Who’s got time and money to learn the skills, develop the marketing, get known and established; and pay the cost of promotion to get people to buy a product with hundreds of thousands of competitors? Fast promotion is expensive and fails more often than it works. Free and very low cost promotion works well but takes time. Meanwhile, you still have to pay the rent. It’s much faster and more profitable, for example, to create a product you already know how to make and sell it on eBay. The learning curve is very gentle and the startup costs are generally low.
So, while I’ll get to the discussion of info products eventually, I’m trying to ease you into the mindset of a product creator/developer in general and point you in the direction of resources for selling your specific kinds of products. (And, yes, eventually I’ll get around to talking a bit specifically about developing services.)
If you’ve read lots of articles, posts and Q & A on the subject of creating or reselling products on line, you’ve heard again and again that you can sell anything on line that you can sell offline. It’s true. But not very helpful advice. It is, however, a good explanation for why honest writers about product creation and development keep saying that you need to look at the wants of people in your market niche (do your #&*@ research) to know what specific products are likely to sell to them.
Nevertheless, you can get an idea of the general kinds of products that sell well within many niches. Here’s a list, compiled from several sources, of the historically top selling product types on the ‘Net. It can serve as an idea guide:
2. Computer hardware and software products.
3. Clothing and accessories.
4. Video games.
5. Toys, games, puzzles.
6. Health products.
7. Consumer electronics.
8. Movie and music DVDs and CDs.
9. Supplies and equipment for the office.
10. Home décor products.
12. Sport/athletic products.
14. Small electronics.
15. Tools and garden products.
16. Gifts of all kinds and cards.
Now, a number of these kinds of products need special skills and knowledge that the average person doesn’t have and aren’t suited to shoestring startups. But you don’t need to make the main product listed to make money from the idea. You can make supplements, accessories, or add-ons to the products.
Here are some examples:
1. Books. So what if you can’t write and publish a book. If you are artistic or craft wise, you can make bookmarks (have you seen what novelty bookmarks sell for in the bookstores?) or hand-bound artists books of classic fairy tales (which are in the public domain and re-printable). You can create blank books for journals (and sell them through places like CafePress). Hey, yes, there’s a whole lot more. I’m just prodding you to start thinking about possibilities.
2. Computer hardware. Not an engineer? You can make accessories like messenger bags for carrying laptops. Or protective cases for iPhones and iPads. (Again, all handled for you on places like CafePress and Zazzle.)
3. Health products. Think this is out of reach? I bought a massage accessory that was basically two pieces of satiny fabric sewn together into a square, which slips and slides on itself to create a frictionless manual massage that is pretty much the equivalent of using expensive oils. Think you could manage to sew two pieces of cloth together?
4. Office supplies. People are making a pretty penny designing letterhead and business cards online. And in a related field, have you seen what it can cost to buy a website template? Or a WordPress theme?
I could go on to show you variations on the entire list, but by now you get the general notion.
Another consideration is that you may do better selling offline. Or do a combination of offline and online selling. Many of the products that solo entrepreneurs and micro businesses can produce are in the line of what we generally call crafts, including the products of tradesmen and artisans. These often sell faster in local venues such as through decorator workrooms, craft fairs and specialty shops. They then get a boost from additional Internet sales, either through the crafter/tradesman’s own website or through such online outlets as Etsy.com.
Perhaps it is becoming clear by now that there is good reason you can find so little information on what specifically to make that will sell on the Internet. There are simply too many variables. You have to learn how to think creatively about product creation/development. It is actually quite personal to you in light of your target market and your own knowledge and skills.