Website Design, Strategy, Social Networking, SEO, Susan Pomeroy, Ph.D.

Creating Spacious Information Products

by Susan Pomeroy

information products, information overload

Do you ever feel inundated by too much information?

I was reading an article this morning about creating and marketing information products.

Information products are the holy grail of service providers. They’re used as bait to attract mailing list sign-ups, and they’re sold, often for astoundingly large sums of money. They are easy for authors because they require no “fulfillment” (packaging, mailing, etc.). There’s generally very little cash outlay required to produce them. And the fond hope is, that they will (a) earn their producers and promoters a gush of money at the outset, and/or (b) they’ll provide passive income for months or years.

As a service provider and solo business person, I’m a frequent consumer of info products. I’ve created some myself, and helped others create and market products about everything from how to get on national television to how to be a better manager.

So here I was, reading yet another thoughtful and well-written article. But today, reading this article was a quick interlude between checking the day’s news online, and  clearing my email inbox. Next task after that: check  the dozens of blogs I scan in my RSS reader. Trolling for useful information, for new developments or discussions in my areas of expertise, for opportunities to comment and connect with authors, or for blog ideas of my own. For things to tweet about, and to post on my business Facebook pages.

In other words, this article was one short moment in a daily process of digesting and spreading even more information even further.

Whoa!

I suddenly remembered a moment many years ago, when I was standing in the middle of a dirt road in the small Mexican town where I lived, along with 30 or 40 other adults and kids, and watching a backhoe digging a ditch for laying water pipe. We all stood there for an hour or so, just watching. All of us standing in the hot sun, intensely focused on the jerky movement of the heavy metal claw. The driver’s casualness at the controls. The helper’s proudly self-conscious directions to the driver. The way the moist tan earth was piled up beside the ditch. And I, looking too at the rapt faces of the other onlookers.

Life in that small town was so slow that anything—anything—out of the ordinary was worth paying attention to. Life was conducted at a walking pace. Most folks didn’t have TVs or phones. The days were long, and hot, and quiet. Peoples’ lives were, for the most part, simple and circumscribed. The entire town was half-immersed in permanent boredom. That one earth-moving machine represented the entire world outside the town, and every piece of it, every movement, every sound, held new information about that world.

I learned that day that boredom, emptiness, vacuity—they’re fantastic tools. Because anything—anything—can become fascinating. Looking at those faces, I saw how boredom can be the emptiness from which intense engagement can arise.

So this morning, here I was at my desk, immersed not in the slow and sultry rhythms of an isolated village, but in internet soup. And I love it. I love reading the news online. I love that any article or image can lead me off on a whole new interest. I love feeling connected to the whole world at every moment.

But really? When I’m finally awakened to look at the state of my soul, it’s just too much information. Way too much to digest, to think about, to use. I am online all day, for myself and for clients. At the end of the day, my browser history routinely contains hundreds of pages. Not to mention Twitter, or the iPad.

How can I find my way in this jungle? How can you? And do I really want to contribute even more information? Will your, or my, information product, really be the one that helps someone make sense… of all the other information?

Right now I wish I could create an anti-information product. A little bit of “esencia del pueblo.” A breath of warm sea air. A fragrant antidote to information toxicity. Of course, then I’d be a meditation teacher or a tour guide, not a blogger.

So, as a blogger and web marketer, I’m going to leave you with this thought for your next information product. Of all the information products I’ve ever purchased or used, two stand out in my mind. One was a $10 product by Charlie Gilkey called “Email Triage.” It’s an easy system for clearing one’s email inbox. And yes, I actually did it. The other was IttyBiz’s SEO School—a short, entertaining book that tells you, me or anyone exactly what to do to improve search engine rankings. Both were simple. Almost alarmingly short. And each one gave me a simple solution to a single problem. Not a million things to do, not 20 exercises. Just one easy concept, and some follow through.

In your next information product, can you create spaciousness for your reader? Can you create time for them to take a deep breath, and another, and another? Can you give them one thing that will sink deeply into their mind and heart, rather than 50 things that will be swept away in tomorrow’s information avalanche? Can you help them simply solve one single problem?

 spacious information products

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