Turning Content Into Cash - Part 1

If you’re reading this you’re probably interested in selling digital goods over the Internet. And, not just a few digital products, but a lot of them.

What can you sell?

  1. Books
  2. Reports
  3. Manuals
  4. Audio products
  5. Video products
  6. Images
  7. Public domain works
  8. Scripts and software
  9. Digital services such as web design and hosting
  10. And much, much more…

The question a lot of people have is, “Is the marketing of digital goods any different than the marketing of physical goods?”

Let me say that the professional methods of marketing never change. It's the mechanics of marketing, the medium of the message that change:

  • Instead of billboards, it's banner or text ads…
  • Letters sent through the post are now emailed…
  • Web sites replace brochures and full-color catalogues…
  • Live chat with customer service representatives enhance or even replace 800 numbers, etc.

Eugene (Gene) M. Schwartz, the copywriter that helped Marty Edelson launch the hugely successful publishing company, Boardroom Reports, said marketing is like playing the stock market or being an atomic scientist.

Marketing, speculation and science are all alike- they all deal with immense natural forces, thousands of times more powerful than the men who use them.

In science, the forces are the fundamental energies of the universe. In speculation, the forces are the billion-dollar tides and currents of the market place.

In marketing, the forces are the hopes, fears and desires of millions upon millions of men and women, all over the world. The men who use these forces did not create them; they can't turn them or shut them down; neither can they diminish them or add to them in any way. All they can do is harness them!

So what works? How can you and I harness this immense power?

Here’s Gene's answer:

Innovation: Continuous, repeated innovation

A steady stream of new ideas- fresh new solutions to new problems. Created above all not by the impossible route of memory - but by analysis. And what is analysis? As Gene says, “It's a series of measuring rods, checkpoints, benchmarks and signposts that show you where a particular force is going, and enable you to get there first”.

So how do we innovate or be creative in the process of selling digital goods?

Digital goods, just like other types of products, do not sell themselves. It takes people with skill and knowledge to sell them. That's why most professional copywriters are more prosperous than your typical “writer”.

The US Department of Labor reports that writers (as an occupation) earn an average of $7,500 per year. Most writers are not able to earn a living from writing alone. But, here’s where most get it wrong.

Even famous published authors will find it difficult to make a living with a single book.

The first question an author is asked upon signing a contract for a first book is, "What else do you have?"

The publisher knows that 'one book' authors will never be able to sell enough copies of their first book to make any real money for them or the author. It takes several books, within the same genre, to build the author's presence in the marketplace.

In other words, it takes constant innovation of new products and ideas.

You should ask yourself, "What else do can I do?".

“What else can I do” should be your mantra as a developer/entrepreneur of digital products online.

There are some writers who hit it big with a single book, but that's very unusual and so rare that it’s impossible to find more than a few examples.

My own experience writing, publishing and marketing digital products on the Internet , especially books on the Internet, proves this.

One book made me some money. Five books made me even more money. The more books I offered to my web site visitors the more profits I made. Many other publishers and content entrepreneurs will confirm this phenomenon.

From a marketers point of view, the only job of that first book you write is to get your readers to buy your second book, and the only job of the second book is to keep the reader hooked enough on your writing to buy your third book, and on and on & because that's where the money is – in other words, constant innovation.

The question then is, "How do I, as an digital goods marketer, stand apart from the rest or innovate?"

In order to determine if your innovations will be accepted into the marketplace online you have to ask yourself how you products will be perceived in the marketplace.

In other words, what are “… the forces are the hopes, fears and desires of millions upon millions of men and women, all over the world” …and how will your prospect perceive your product?

For example, what would be your customers first reaction to hearing about your new product?

"Don't need to know- no time - not interested enough to care"; (customer response: "I'll pass")

"Nice to know - looks interesting, but… "; (customer response: "ho hum", *insert yawn here*)

"This looks great - just what I've been looking for!" (customer response: "Where do I pay?")

When I'm looking for info (especially on-line) I ask myself these questions.

For example, one morning while surfing the net I went to a web site that had a service I wanted. The service looked interesting (in the "nice to know" category) so I took the time to sign up for a free demo of their service.

I was ready to leave the site when I noticed a link to a free report they were offering too.

The link said "download now", and since I was at their demo sign-up success page I thought the link would take me directly to the report. Instead, when I clicked on the link, I got a page with a "registration form"...asking me all the stuff I just answered when I signed up for the free demo.

Suddenly I'm in the "Don't need to know-no time -not interested enough to care", category.

I simply didn't have the time to enter all my information again - so I passed on their free offer. Too bad they didn't link the report with the free demo offer. That would have made a lot of sense and it would have been a nice 'bonus' for signing up for the free demo.

If you want people to buy or download your digital product you have to answer the critical question your target audience is asking,

 "Do I really need this info? Is it exactly what I’m looking for?"

 …their response will fall into category 1, 2 or 3 mentioned above.

If it's in category 1 or 2, chances are you need to re-think your e-book's title or the headline and/or ad for your digital product. You need to determine the products "appeal", its' primary benefit to the reader and make that clear to your reader.

This is where Gene Schwartz's idea of marketing as 'innovation and analysis' is so important.

If you’re selling a report or ebook or even a software program online you may need to test several titles in subtle ways to your target audience before you find one that works well.

How To Find the Perfect Title (That Will Sell) For Your Information Product

One way to do that is by writing an article about your upcoming book (what it's about, etc.) and put the proposed titles as a link to your article.

Put the title on your home page. Rotate and change the title once a week and try several different titles. See which one gets the most click-throughs to your article by using a counter on your page with the article or by 'coding' the link.

For example:

One title for your article might be:

“How To Kick Your Competitors Butt and Generate 1,000% More Sales On Your Website Now”

Your link to your article link would look like this:


When someone clicks on the link it registers a 'hit' in your server logs.

The REAL URL for the article is everything before the "?"- your 'code' is "andy_brock".

Everything after the question mark "?" will not affect the visitor clicking on the link to get to your article. Count the number of hits you get for each title. Just be sure to change the code to correspond with your titles every time you make a change!

Then you write another article with a different headline to test, but on the same topic.

Now, on your ‘article’ page on your website you’ll have 5-8 articles with different headlines to test and different article content. Announce the article to your email list and you can even setup a PPC campaign to send targeted traffic to your article page (just don’t pay too much).

Use this technique to determine which headline interests your readers more (you’ll get more clicks on that headline) THEN develop your products from that test using the headline in the article as the title for your book!

If one performs better than all the others, then you have a successful title. And as we all know, a good title sells books.

If you want something more sophisticated than what’s available for checking page stats through your we host there are a dozen ‘trackers’ available online for your web pages.

In other words, this method of selecting titles for your information products is Gene Schwartz’s idea used in a practical application. He said that innovation is a “… series of measuring rods, checkpoints, benchmarks and signposts that show you where a particular force is going, and enable you to get there first”.

By having several titles of articles of a similar nature on your site, and sending traffic to this page, the force of the market (your visitors) will make the choice for your title for you… it’s a signpost showing you where the market is going. The winning title is the one the majority of them click on, and the market is never wrong.

Use that force and power to your advantage.