Mike McMillan is an info product creator and online marketer with over 20 years experience in selling books and ebooks, both online and off. He has created over 100 products which he has sold successfully. His main niche is the education market, but he also has a large number of products related to product development and online marketing.
Mike, how did you get started in information publishing?
Before we begin, Semmy, I first want to thank you for the work you’ve done for me though the years. You have designed dozens of mini-sites and product covers which have been an important facet of my online selling success. Your work has always been excellent and you always deliver on time. So thanks so much for helping me out!
Semmy, I was a high school math and science teacher for 14 years. I started writing books with activities other teachers could do with their students and selling them by direct mail. They sold very well and I quit teaching to spend full time writing more materials. Within a couple years I had over 40 books and was mailing out my small catalogs to over 40,000 teachers a year. I did this for about ten years and sold my business to two other companies about ten years ago.
I started doing writing seminars across the U.S. where I showed others how to create and sell their own information products. Eventually I developed an online product development course for teachers which is now offered through over 1,700 colleges and universities across the U.S.
About eight years ago I started creating ebooks, videos, and membership sites which I marketed online. I have created about 40 different products related to online marketing that I sell today. Many of my products help others create their own products and sell them online.
If people could take away 3 lessons from today, what would they be?
Well, the first thing would be to understand that making money online is all about marketing. You can create the best ebook or video product in the world, but if you don’t know how to market it, it just won’t make any money. You have to know how to create great sales pages and how to drive targeted traffic to them.
The second thing is to recruit JV partners with big lists to help you promote your products. Really–just a handful of big marketers promoting your product to their subscribers can make a lot of money in only days. To get these people to promote for you, you must have created a product of extreme value. You must over-deliver to your customers.
And finally, you need to work hard from the beginning to grow a subscriber list of your own. You need an auto-responder service to do this. You can offer a free report or video on a squeeze page (a page where people can join your list) to encourage people to sign up.
As your list grows you need to market to them with either your own products or with products you promote as an affiliate. This is a huge factor and your list can earn money for you day after day.
In your experience, what the best way to create info products?
I’ve discussed some of that already. But here are some tips I think will be helpful. I spend a lot of time writing every day. One of my keys is to set up a place where I can work comfortably. Years ago when I owned my book publishing company I had a big warehouse with half a dozen offices. I spent a lot of time there, but really–I did my very best writing at home.
I also found that I could do my best writing late at night. Even today, my best writing comes through from about midnight to 4AM or so. It’s quiet at night… no phone calls, no traffic, none of the hustle and bustle you find in the daytime.
I know it’s hard to do this for people who have families and kids at home, but my kids are grown away from home. It’s also hard if you’re holding down a day job, but that was a big advantage when I quit my teaching job. I could work as many hours as I wanted and whenever I wanted.
Another thing is to have a good place to write. I use an upstairs bedroom with a beautiful view of hundreds of acres or woodlands out back. I put my desk and marker board up there, a bunch of plants, some paintings I have collected, a mini-refrigerator, and a coffee maker. I play some of my favorite CDs quietly in the background. You need to have a place where you can zone in and write.
One final thing: It’s easy to become secluded as a writer. You need to get out and see people, get some exercise, have some fun. You can get more done in one or two hours a day if you can get in your “zone” than you can in 10-12 hours of sitting in front of your computer if you’re just not in the mood to write.
What do you wish you knew about creating info products when you first started out?
When I started out many years ago I sold all of my books myself. I was good at it, but it does require a lot of time and energy. After 4-5 years I approached some people who had very big lists in my niches and asked if they would be interested in promoting some of my products.
I had a lot of great testimonials from my buyers (that’s important) and the quality of my products was very good. I sent them sample copies to look over. I soon learned that these people could promote my products to their lists very well. Within a year my affiliates were selling 4-5 times as many units of my products as I was. It’s all about building relationships with key players in your niche and working together. It’s much harder to try to do everything yourself.
How can our listeners get started in creating an info product this week?
The first thing is to take an inventory and decide what they are interested in. eBooks on almost any topic can sell sell if they are well written and marketed properly. I write about things that interest me because the process is more fun that way.
I always create the sales page for a product before I create the product. That way I have a blueprint for the material my product must contain. I find that really helpful.
Once I do that I make an outline of what my product must contain and start creating content. A tip I will give is that I think it is much better to create one very, very good product than to create ten products of average quality. Good products make it easier to get affiliates to promote it for you and thus you can get many more sales.
What tools do you feel are essential for creating info products?
Really, Semmy, it doesn’t take all that much. An ebook can be created in Word, or in Open Office (which is free). You can then convert it into a PDF file to sell. People will need a hosting account which they can get for about $5 a month. I use HostGator and it has worked well for me.
They will also need a domain name which runs about $10 per year. I would highly recommend they get an auto-responder account to build their list with. I use Aweber which costs about $20 a month starting out.
People also need to be able to create sales pages for their products. They can use WordPress blogs hosted on their own accounts or they can create standard HTML type pages. Again, OpenOffice has a free HTML editor people can use for free to create web pages. I use DreamWeaver, but it’s kind of pricey if people are just starting out.
Can you possibly offer our listeners a special offer?
Well, I’d be glad to offer a discount on a product, but here’s my best tip. My Info Product Earnings membership site is only $4.95 to join. Inside the site members can access hundreds of dollars worth of some of my best ebooks related to selling info products online as well as in-depth tutorials on subjects related to marketing info products online. I also offer substantial discounts on all of my best products related to creating and selling info products there. That’s really the very best way to get a ton of material for only pennies.
What do you do better than anyone else in your opinion?
I respect my subscribers and my buyers. I always try to over-deliver in my products and that’s why I have a lot of repeat buyers for my products.
What is the very first step for someone listening to take?
I would recommend that people take some time doing some niche research. You need to find out what competitors are doing insofar as what key benefits of their products they stress in their sales pages. You should subscribe to their lists so you can see what kinds of products they promote to their subscribers and how often the mail to them. Study your competition!
You should also do some keyword research to find out approximately how many searches are done each month for keywords related to your product. You can use Google’s free keyword tool if you wish, and there are many highly sophisticated paid tools you can use as well.
If you only had 30 days to creating info product and market it, how would you do it?
I would create my sales page first like I mentioned before. I would then make an outline of what I want in my product and start creating content. As soon as I got it done I would send an email to my subscribers offering it to them at a discounted, introductory offer. I would then use any comments I got from buyers as testimonials on my sales page.
I would then contact people who have promoted other products of my and let them know about my new product. I would provide them with emails to use to mail to their lists. Hopefully they would send out an email or two to their subscribers promoting my product. Just a few good affiliates can make a huge difference in your sales.
That’s what I would call a private, mini product launch. A bigger, major product launch takes a lot more work, of course.
How can people contact you?
They can email me at email@example.com if they wish.