It’s the first really warm day of Spring here in the Pacific Northwest, and I can hear the hum of lawnmowers and happy chatter of gardeners outside my window. Which got me to thinking…
How do people know which project is the right one? Should they weed the flower beds? Mow the lawn? Plant vegies?
And assuming they can decide, which corner of the yard should they start with?
And then, how can they be sure they have what it takes to do a good job?
Are you thinking yard work needn’t be quite so fraught? Maybe not. But these are the same sticking points that keep Accidental Entrepreneurs from completing an info product once they’ve decided to do one.
The crucial difference between getting stuck and pausing
The first thing you need to know is that getting stuck is just a prolonged pause. And there are good reasons to pause in the creative process.
Sometimes you need to pause because there is a question that must be answered before you move on. Sometimes you need to pause to gather resources. And sometimes you need to pause to check the map of where you’re going.
The difference between a creative pause and stuckness is awareness. When you know why you are pausing, you can do something about it. When you don’t know, you go around in circles and call it being stuck.
The three places you get stuck
With that in mind, there are three sticking points along the road to a complete info product: at the very beginning, in the middle, and at the end. (Isn’t that encouraging?!) In this article you’ll learn why you get stuck at the beginning and what to do about it. In the next two articles you’ll learn about getting unstuck at the middle and the end.
So let’s dive in!
Why you get stuck at the very beginning
It is perfectly natural to get stuck at the very start of creating an info product, especially if you haven’t done one before. For one thing there are so many possibilities! For another, there’s the niggling fear that you don’t have enough to offer. (Ugh. Ouch.)
The sticking points at the beginning boil down to:
- Not knowing which product is the right one.
- Not knowing where to start.
- Lack of confidence/self doubt.
Not knowing which product is the right one
For every info product that reaches the market, I wager there are thousands that never get started because the creator couldn’t decide what to make. That’s a problem. 🙂
So, how can you tell which one of your product ideas is the right one?
You can’t. That is, there is no way you can be absolutely positively sure that the product you develop is the very best one you could do and will sell like hotcakes.
What you can know is what would be helpful to the people you serve. And you can know that because they will tell you.
Pay attention to your just-right clients–the ones you are already working with and the ones you’d like to work with in the future. Make a list of the questions they ask you. Group them together by topic. Choose a topic. (Eenie meenie minie moe works here.)
Voila! You have made the big scary decision.
Not knowing where to start
At this point your brain is likely to be flooded with everything you ever knew about your topic. Except when your mind goes utterly blank.
And both conditions make it kind of hard to get started.
Here’s what you do. When your mind is racing, do a brain dump. Start a list or a mindmap and just pour out whatever occurs to you. If you think better out loud, speak your ideas into a recorder, then transcribe them. (You’re going to make money on this puppy. It’s worth the time.)
When your mind goes blank, set this aside for a bit. You’ll be brimming with possibilities again before long.
Give this process at most an hour. Then make friends with outlining.
Outlining won’t kill you
Creative Accidental Entrepreneurs seem allergic to outlining. If you’re not, hurrah! If you are, take heart. The outline I recommend is dead simple.
Write your topic at the top of a page.
- Write a one sentence summary of what you intend this product to do and for whom. For example: “This ebook will show self-employed professionals how to stop the cycle of under-earning.”
- Go to your brain dump and group similar/related ideas together. Choose 8-12 main ideas that you could include in your product.
- Choose 5 of those ideas. Let go of the rest. If your topic is too big to be addressed in 5 ideas, break it up into smaller topics and choose one. (It just makes sense to start with a tiny info product so you can learn the process.)
- For each of your 5 ideas, write down 5 points people need to know. Be sure your 5 points answer these questions: Why is this important? What should they know? How do they act on what your are teaching them? What can they expect when they’ve taken action?
Now you have a map showing you where to start and what needs to be done to complete your product.
Lack of confidence/self doubt
You’ve chosen a product. You’ve outlined it. And now you are paralyzed by lack of confidence and self doubt. It’s perfectly natural and it sucks eggs.
So let’s look at what you can do about it.
Build a support group. This is far and away the most useful thing you can do. Gather with like-minded people for the express purpose of supporting each other to complete a project. Create structures of accountability (regular progress reports, check-in phone calls, meetings) so you stay connected. Your group can’t support you if they don’t know what’s going on.
Orient yourself toward service. Your just-right clients need this product. You know that because you chose it based on their questions. It’s about them even more than it’s about you. Remember this and invite your wounded ego to cuddle up with a teddy bear and take a nap. Somewhere else.
Why not make a start?
If you’ve always wanted to do an info product, why not start one this week? Give yourself two hours to walk through the steps in this article. It might not even take you that long. Just do the things and don’t worry about whether you are doing them right.
What do you have to lose?
The tease continues…
This whole topic came to mind because I’ve been working on the Shaboom County Library, which happens to include an ebook on writing a tiny info product. It’s pretty cool, and it is available only to Shaboom County members.
Here’s the tease. You can’t join Shaboom County, at least not right now. But membership will be opened for one week in early June. There will be a slew of cool no-cost downloads to celebrate. Details will, of course, follow.
Photo by: roadsidepictures
Under a Creative Commons License