I warned you yesterday that we were on the verge of getting into our next big(ish) project in our marketing bootcamp series for freelance writers. Today we'll kick that off. You're going to create a short information product (an e-book or report).
Information products are great tools for establishing your credibility or building authority status in a niche. It's up to you whether or not you choose to give the product away for free or charge for it. I'll be creating one in line with a new blog launch of mine to follow along with the series. In my case, I'll be selling the product, but it's being created as a blog revenue stream and not as a platform piece tied to a professional website and service offerings. As far as platform-building goes, I very very very strongly suggest you release it for free. You'll get more mileage out of it as far as its ability to bring in paying work that way, and you can always use it to later upsell readers (getting them to buy a longer report for example). Look at it this way too -- if you charge people for it, it's kind of slimy to use it as a direct marketing pitch. But if you give it away for free, a blatant marketing message and call to action is not only acceptable, but it's more expected.
- Brainstorm a list of five possible e-book or report topics that would be of interest to your market (not a blog's readers for example, but potential buyers of your freelance writing services). Keep in mind that you'll be shooting for short so don't choose broad topics -- narrow it down and get specific. Figure you'll write five pages of actual content (not counting a title page, marketing pitch / call to action page, or TOC). Use the Adwords keyword tool to help you narrow it down or come up with better keyword-rich titles (if no one's searching for that specific information, it's not likely your best bet).
- Narrow those babies down to a single idea (based on that keyword research and your knowledge of your target market).
- Create a working table of contents. Figure you'll have a 1-3 paragraph introduction, a paragraph or two to close it out, and then shoot for 3 sections within the report that you can write separately like articles but that will transition well and flow smoothly through the piece.
- Setup your document and create your title page. You can go really simple with this (text-only) or feel free to get more creative.
- Create another page after your title page and write up your copyright notice, license (how readers may or may not use it, distribute it, sell it, alter it, etc.), and any disclaimers you might need (like an earnings disclaimer if your report is something like "E-book Authors: How the Right Sales Letter Can Effortlessly Make You $XXXXX Per Month").
- When you're comfortable with your TOC, paste it into your new document draft after your disclaimers / legal page (on a new page). You can fill in the page numbers later when the draft is finalized.
- Take notes for (or outline) each of the report sections you'll be writing. Basically you're just preparing to write now.
That's enough for one day, and you should have plenty to show for it. Having these initial elements set up will make you feel like you've already accomplished something when you get into the real meat of it. Tomorrow you'll come back and use those notes to write the main body elements of the report (3 - 3.5 pages worth). Your introduction, conclusion, and sales pitch will come later.
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media -- a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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