There are so many ways to make money online that entire books have been devoted to the subject, with each chapter offering a different idea. Creating and selling your own information products is a very viable method of building an online business – and can be an extremely profitable one too.

Before we look into the ways that you – or anyone – can start to create your own information products, we first need to define what information products actually are. To many people starting out, the very term, information product, is daunting and can put one off. But get past that and you’ll soon realize that like most things connected to online marketing, the jargon often hides a simple concept.

In the main, people are searching online for information. When we do a Google search we almost always are trying to find an answer to a question.

Some of those questions are about mundane things and can be answered very easily. But some questions are more complex, more important and more pressing. For those, while one may be able to find answers after long hours of intense research, it is far easier to buy a ready-made solution.

The more intense the question, the more we are willing to pay for an answer.

The difference between online and offline information products is that offline everyone has a view as to how much a ‘book’ or a ‘magazine’ is worth and will rarely pay more than the accepted norm. Online, however, it is the information that is valued, and not so much the delivery vehicle. So people will often pay a lot more for an answer to a pressing need online that they will offline.

Information products come in all shapes and sizes. A few to consider are:

Ebooks – Usually PDF files formatted to look like a real book, but with fewer pages. A typical ebook is between 70 and 100 pages, but can be a lot less, or a lot more. Ebooks can sell for anything from a few dollars to hundreds. A price point of $67 or $97 is not unusual.

Special Reports – As with ebooks, special reports are normally supplied as PDF files, but they tend to be much shorter. 5-10 pages is typical. Special reports are usually focused on answering a single problem or teaching a specific method for something and have a lot less fluff and filler than ebooks often do.

White papers – Sometimes the answer to a question can be contained in a page or two – a list of resources, for example.

Videos – with the ease of use of hand held video cameras such as the Flip, and screen capture programs it is very easy now to produce short videos to answer people’s questions. Buyers seem to like video products and are often willing to pay a premium price for them.

Audio – spoken word information products – often called podcasts – are popular with people who regularly use MP3 players and Smartphones as they allow folks to learn while on the move. Sometimes it is quite easy to simply read out an article or short report into a program like Audacity to make an audio info product that will sell well.

Membership sites – When information can be delivered over time, in instalments, it can be very profitable to do so from within a membership site. This gives the vendor an ongoing income from subscription fees as well as a frequent opportunity to offer members other offers.

Creating your own information products has one very big advantage. When you sell it, you determine the price and you keep all the profits. And as the cost of creating, producing and supplying digitally downloadable info products is virtually nil, the potential profits can be enormous. You can literally start a real business but with no overheads.

In addition to sales you make yourself, you also have the chance to attract and recruit other people to sell on your behalf. In Internet marketing these people are called affiliates. They will promote your product to their lists, and if they incur any advertising costs will be entire responsible for them themselves. You simply pay them a commission for each sale they make.

Typically, you will pay them 50% – 75% of the sales price, which may sound a lot, but consider the sale one you wouldn’t have otherwise had, and it has cost you nothing. You may ‘only’ make 25%, but that 25% is 100% profit. It is a great deal!

Not all info products are created to be sold though.

Sometimes it is better to offer your product as a free gift in return for somebody’s email address. Building up an email list is a vital part of online marketing and can massively increase your profitability. It is an effort to attract new traffic to your offers, but if you have already got a list of 1000 people to tell about a new information product you’ve created, you can really boost your launch results with no extra effort.

Creating free information products as giveaways to attract subscribers is very effective and easy to do. It should be a part of all marketers’ routine.

Online marketing is, at its heart, about selling. Information is one of the most valuable commodities we can sell. While it is great to be an affiliate for other people, producing and owning your own info products is the best way to secure your personal success into the future.