How to Make a Good Online Product

Making a good online learning content product might seem at first glance to be difficult. If you’ve never done it before it might even seem far too difficult for you. And if you’ve seen some of the information content products out there, you may believe that if the gurus can’t make a good online product then how are you going to?

But there’s no reason to be frightened off!

Making a good online product is really easy. Yes, it does require a system and yes it does require care. But you’ll find that you can create a professional looking online product with only a small amount of effort. What it takes is knowledge.

Let’s start this off by defining “good”. After all, if you don’t know what good is how can you make a good online product?

The audience for a learning content product judges the product in three dimensions. First, they judge your content. Then they judge the organization of your product. Finally they judge the delivery of your product. I like using the acronym COD — mostly because I get to practice my bad Newfoundland accent. And it’s easy to get silly with COD.

So what do they judge about content? And how can we make sure what we deliver is good?

If your audience already knew what you were teaching then they could judge the quality of your content. But they don’t so they can’t. So what are they going to do? Well, the answer is the next best thing… they’re going to judge content based on relevancy. Is your content relevant to them? If not, it’s bad. If it is relevant then it’s good. Silly, but then again we tend to make decisions based on emotion so what do you expect?

So how can you make sure you deliver quality content? You need to make it relevant to your audience. Your process has to start with the audience. It needs to identify what would be relevant to them. And then you can begin to develop the product itself. All through the product creation process you need to focus on your audience and their needs. Every thing you do during the product creation and marketing process needs to be focused on delivering what is relevant to them and their needs.

So what about organization?

This is the other way that your audience will judge the quality of the content. If your learning content product is well organized then it must have great content. So organization of your product becomes more important than it should be. After all, not only is it being judged on its own merits but it is influencing their opinion of the content.

To ensure that your information product is well organized you need to perform what is called a structural edit. This simply checks that you aren’t going off into the wild blue yonder with your explanations and that your argument makes logical sense. Traditionally this was done after the product was created. But that’s far too late. Corrections are too expensive by that point. Instead you need to create a detailed outline of your product down to the paragraph level. Then you can perform your structural edit while it’s easy to fix the product.

The third dimension of judgment is delivery.

What does your teleseminar sound like? Is there an introduction? Is there closing music? Does your video have closing credits? Is your book free of spelling errors and major unintentional grammar errors? Unfortunately, the standard to which your audience is holding you is the one they are familiar with — television, movies, radio, traditionally published books. This means you need to look and sound professional.

So how do you look and sound professional? The trick is in the polishing and formatting steps. Once you have created your product you need to edit it and package it. In the case of video, this means adding credits and music as well as removing errors. In the case of an eBook you need to fix the spelling and grammar mistakes and then make the eBook look like a published book.

How to Make a Good Online Product

Making a good online learning content product might seem at first glance to be difficult. If you’ve never done it before it might even seem far too difficult for you. And if you’ve seen some of the information content products out there, you may believe that if the gurus can’t make a good online product then how are you going to?

But there’s no reason to be frightened off!

Making a good online product is really easy. Yes, it does require a system and yes it does require care. But you’ll find that you can create a professional looking online product with only a small amount of effort. What it takes is knowledge.

Let’s start this off by defining “good”. After all, if you don’t know what good is how can you make a good online product?

The audience for a learning content product judges the product in three dimensions. First, they judge your content. Then they judge the organization of your product. Finally they judge the delivery of your product. I like using the acronym COD — mostly because I get to practice my bad Newfoundland accent. And it’s easy to get silly with COD.

So what do they judge about content? And how can we make sure what we deliver is good?

If your audience already knew what you were teaching then they could judge the quality of your content. But they don’t so they can’t. So what are they going to do? Well, the answer is the next best thing… they’re going to judge content based on relevancy. Is your content relevant to them? If not, it’s bad. If it is relevant then it’s good. Silly, but then again we tend to make decisions based on emotion so what do you expect?

So how can you make sure you deliver quality content? You need to make it relevant to your audience. Your process has to start with the audience. It needs to identify what would be relevant to them. And then you can begin to develop the product itself. All through the product creation process you need to focus on your audience and their needs. Every thing you do during the product creation and marketing process needs to be focused on delivering what is relevant to them and their needs.

So what about organization?

This is the other way that your audience will judge the quality of the content. If your learning content product is well organized then it must have great content. So organization of your product becomes more important than it should be. After all, not only is it being judged on its own merits but it is influencing their opinion of the content.

To ensure that your information product is well organized you need to perform what is called a structural edit. This simply checks that you aren’t going off into the wild blue yonder with your explanations and that your argument makes logical sense. Traditionally this was done after the product was created. But that’s far too late. Corrections are too expensive by that point. Instead you need to create a detailed outline of your product down to the paragraph level. Then you can perform your structural edit while it’s easy to fix the product.

The third dimension of judgment is delivery.

What does your teleseminar sound like? Is there an introduction? Is there closing music? Does your video have closing credits? Is your book free of spelling errors and major unintentional grammar errors? Unfortunately, the standard to which your audience is holding you is the one they are familiar with — television, movies, radio, traditionally published books. This means you need to look and sound professional.

So how do you look and sound professional? The trick is in the polishing and formatting steps. Once you have created your product you need to edit it and package it. In the case of video, this means adding credits and music as well as removing errors. In the case of an eBook you need to fix the spelling and grammar mistakes and then make the eBook look like a published book.

The Life Cycle of Online Products

Like many things, products go through a cycle during their effective lifespan. These cycles are regular and predictable. A formal life cycle can help build an understanding of the pattern of stages that a product goes through.

There are many different life cycles each based on the focus and pattern, which the author is observing. In this article, I’m going to share a very detailed nine-step life cycle of an online product.

1. Plan

A good online product begins with a plan. The plan details much of the background information required for the online product. However, only the requirements for the product are provided.

2. Design

In this stage, the requirements are given form. The online product that was described in the plan is defined in detail. A detailed outline of the product is produced.

3. Produce

This stage varies depending on the media of the online product. For example, an eBook is written at this stage. A teleseminar on the other hand may be written but it definitely is presented and recorded.

4. Package or Publish

The online product is still in a rough state at the start of this stage — although it is in fact complete. This stage polishes the product and adds elements that turn it into a professional, salable product. For example, a video will have opening and closing credits added and a cover designed.

5. Generating Traffic

At this stage, the product is available. However, sales are not actually occurring. Instead, traffic must be generated in order to ensure that sales are sufficient to justify the costs so far. This is often referred to as a pre-launch stage although it can occur after the launch.

6. Marketing and Selling

At this stage, the product is available and the traffic has reached a stable point. Sales are reasonably stable. In this stage, the marketing emphasis has switched to finding the right types of traffic, rather than the growth focus of the previous stage.

7. Declining Sales

After a period of time, almost all products begin to experience a decline in sales. This may be because of market saturation or real or perceived obsolescence.

8. Bonus

Finally, the sales have dropped to the point that marketing and sales efforts fail to produce sales. At this point, the product is retired from sales. However, it becomes available for use as a bonus to support the sales of other products.

9. Retirement

Eventually, a product will cease to be of value even as a bonus. At this point, the product will be removed from the products for sale list.