An information product is something that packages the knowledge of one or more people and is then made available to others, either free or for profit. Information products may take many forms, such as books, workshops and classes, newsletters, CDs and DVDs. Computers and the Internet have expanded on this idea with new concepts such as downloadable files, e-books and portable data.
Information products are not new, as anyone who has read a "how-to" book or similar materials can attest. The information explosion that has resulted from the everyday use of computers with Internet connections has given the term "information product" a whole new meaning. Downloadable products such as e-books, as well as information-rich webinars and online workshops and lectures have given this type of product new life.
The business community has long used the concept of the value chain when developing products and determining the strengths and weaknesses of not only the product but the business entity itself. Each activity phase of product development is expected to add value to the finished product and aid in the logistics of moving the product from the manufacturer to the consumer. For Internet-based businesses that offer one or more types of information product, the value chain may require several steps. The creation of the information product comes first, which requires the creator to have translated an idea into interconnected pieces of information that will educate the consumer.
Once the basic concept of the information product has been created, it must be packaged as a downloadable file, e-book, CD, etc., and stored until it can be distributed. Before distribution can be realized, the information product must be priced competitively and marketed, just like any other product. The creator or seller must be able to communicate to the target audience how this particular product will be of benefit. Additionally, the seller should make clear the type of support he offers to consumers of his product; for example, a subscription to a website may produce more need for customer service than the sale of a how-to video. Lastly, the seller must present a convenient way for the customer to make a purchase.
The benefits of creating, producing and selling information products online are many and often appeal to the sole proprietor or small business person. Products such as DVDs, CDs and self-printed books are inexpensive to produce and can provide a hefty profit. Some information products such as e-books, website subscriptions or memberships and streaming video have low costs associated with their creation and can be sold over and over again. Many entrepreneurs also like the ability to manage their entire business online, thereby making their business a work-at-home venture with built-in mobility.