Article: Shelley Lowery


The Small Business Library

September 22, 2000

How to Create, Sell and Distribute Your Own Informational Product

With the rising popularity of the Internet, there is absolutely no better time than right now to develop your own informational product. Not only is there no better time, but it has never been any easier for anyone to develop and sell their own products.

Information is the number one best-selling product on the Internet. There are literally hundreds of Internet entrepreneurs quietly making a fortune simply by selling information.

The first step in creating your product is to decide upon a subject. Select a subject in which you have a great deal of knowledge. The knowledge you have within your own mind is extremely valuable. Simply write about what you know and teach others how to do the same thing. It's that simple.

Creating an Outline

  • The easiest way to begin writing is to create an outline. Begin your outline with an opening statement or Introduction followed by a Foreword. Your opening statement might tell your readers a little bit about what they are going to learn or may be a statement in regard to the subject matter. Your Foreword might include information in regard to who you are, your credentials, copyrights, and what you want your readers to learn.

  • Your next step will be to either create a Table of Contents or go directly into creating your Chapter Titles. If you're writing your information in the form of a how-to manual, you may want to use a Table of Contents. This will enable your readers to quickly locate important information. If you're writing your information in the form of a book, then you can leave out the Table of Contents and simply use Chapter Titles.

  • Whether you're using a Table of Contents or Chapter Titles, write your titles so that when they're read, they tell the story. In other words, when you scan your titles they will give you a step by step description of what your information is all about.

  • Finally, at the bottom of your outline, wrap everything up by including a closing statement.

  • Once you've completed your outline you can begin filling in the spaces. Write your text in small blocks and leave a space between your paragraphs. Select a font that is easy to read and use black text on a white background. In addition, write in an everyday language that everyone can understand.

Delivering Your Information

In order to deliver your information to your customers, you'll need to compress it into a downloadable file, better known as an ebook. There are different types of compilation methods however, for this example we will focus on HTML compiled ebooks.

Ebooks or electronic books are self-contained "executable" files of HTML. This HTML may be a web site you've created or HTML you've specifically prepared to be compiled into a downloadable .exe file for distribution. When downloaded, this file will self install on your clients desktop.

Your first step in creating your ebook will be to turn your text into HTML. Simply divide your text into sections such as, Introduction, Table of Contents, Chapters, etc., and create a web page for each. Make sure you include good navigational links to and from each page you create.

You can include graphics, live links, and almost everything that HTML 4.0 supports.

Selecting a Compiler

There are many good ebook compilers available on the Internet, but only three that I can personally recommend. Each of the following compilers support almost everything that HTML 4.0 supports and will compile your HTML into a downloadable .exe format. They are as follows:

  • E-ditor Pro - This is by far the easiest compiler to use. The step by step interface will guide you through the entire process. This program includes a pop-up message box that loads prior to your ebook loading when your ebook is launched. This box can contain system requirements, copyrights or whatever text you'd like.
    Cost: $69.95

  • WebCompiler - This program is a little complicated the first time you use it however, once you've figured it out, you can easily create an ebook. This program will allow you to use your own product icon.
    Cost: $149.00

  • Activ Ebook - This program isn't as easy as E-ditor Pro, but with the aid of the instructions you can easily create a nice ebook. The great thing about this compiler is that it assigns an ESBN number to each ebook you compile. It also has a free demo that is fully functional for up to 10 files to be compiled. You can create and distribute ebooks with the free demo, but you must register the software if you'd like to sell your ebooks.
    Cost: $29.95

They are all good compilers and each will enable you to password protect your work however, for features and price, Activ Ebook is the best buy all the way around.

Once you've created your ebook and you're ready to upload it to your server, simply create a new directory where you store your HTML files. You can name the directory "Ebooks" or whatever you'd like. Upload your ebook in binary mode.

To create a download link on your web site, most servers will allow you to simply link to the address:

http://www.yourdomain.com/ebooks/ebook.exe
If this method of linking doesn't work for you, contact your server administrator for assistance.

Taking Orders

In order for you to begin taking orders for your ebook, you'll need to have the ability to accept credit cards. Unless you'd like to get your own merchant account, the best way to accept credit cards is to use an online service. The best service I've found is VISAge®. This company will enable you to accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Eurocard, and Novus cards.

They charge a one-time $49 activation fee, and a 3% fee per transaction. There are no monthly fees. The great thing about this company is that they enable any web seller to automatically pay sales commissions to affiliates. They will bill your customers, pay you, and pay your affiliates a commission. In other words, they'll run your entire affiliate program for you.

There is absolutely no reason why you can't create your own informational product. Think about it... Think about some special talent you may have or knowledge you could share and write about. Creating your own product will be one of the best business decisions you'll ever make.

About the Author: Shelley Lowery is the webmistress of Web-Source.net - Your Guide to Professional Web Site Design and Development. For further information on creating informational products, read her review of Make Your Knowledge Sell.