One of the best ways to advance your career, start an extra income stream, or become an entrepreneur is by creating content. By “content” I mean tangible information that delivers value to others, delivered over the internet. It could take the form of a blog post or a long-form essay, an instructional guide or a how-to video, an ebook or online course. Content is anything you make out of knowledge and ideas, either your own or those of others, that stands on its own as a stand-alone thing. Content typically has the goal of entertaining people, helping them learn something new, or giving them solutions to their problems without you having to be there. Why is creating content such an effective way to advance almost anyone’s career or business? Because it gets you started making things, without many of the risks that are normally part of creating new things. You gain experience in all stages of the creation process, from first thinking of the idea, to outlining the main points, to trying out different approaches, to refining and editing your “product,” to final delivery. But you get to do all this learning without paying for expensive overhead, like a staff, office rent, or equipment. You don’t need to quit your job or spend years earning a new degree. Creating most kinds of content requires nothing more than a computer or a smartphone to get started. Information products have many similarities to physical products. They both require a process of development and marketing, both need to be produced and delivered, and both can be sold to make money. But information products have a few key differences that make them perfectly suited to getting a business off the ground. First, they can be created out of nothing but thinking and effort. The cost of raw materials is zero. Second, once you’ve produced the first one, they cost nothing to duplicate. The cost of additional manufacturing is zero. Third, they can be stored for free on your computer, and delivered for free over the internet. Inventory and distribution cost zero. And fourth, you can easily edit a text, modify an image, or change a webpage after the fact, often even after they’ve been delivered. The costs of modification are zero. That last one is actually the most important. Because early on, your biggest challenge is knowing what to create. You may have lots of ideas of what you think people would want, but until you actually have the money in hand, you can’t be completely sure. The biggest risk with physical products is that you have to spend a lot of money upfront – raw materials, design, manufacturing, storage, distribution, marketing – before you have the first opportunity to discover whether people truly want it. But content creation almost eliminates this risk, because all these costs are virtually zero. You can create a piece of content in a few hours or days, post it online, and get immediate feedback on whether it meets people’s needs. If it does, you simply keep duplicating and selling it. If it doesn’t, you can make changes in a matter of minutes and republish it as a “new and improved” version!
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