Don’t Tell People Everything You Know

I am going to tell you something right now that I hope will get you over that hump of making your next information product. It should also change your minds about what your customers are actually paying for and what information you should be giving away.

My mentor for many years was a guy called John Calder. He was really arrogant (which is a good thing!) and the best piece of advice he ever shared with me was, "Don't tell people everything you know."

But what does that mean?

Leave Room For A Sequel!

Here is something to think about: How come every movie you watch does not end with all the characters dying? Because there is a chance that the movie will get a sequel and that some or all of the characters can be in movie number two.

The same is true with your report creation. Do you try to put everything you know about a certain subject in one report? Sure! Can you put EVERYTHING there is to say in that report? Of course not!

A great example is my "Time Management on Crack" report. This is something that started off with me just explaining how I get things done, how I'm so productive. Then, I later added in formulas for writing, for blogging, for video creation and so on.

In fact, it has now tripled the size and got ten times' as much information - and I am still adding to it! But is that my only product about time management? Of course not!

Lance Tamashiro and I have a Membership site all about time management called, "IM Productivity Secrets." I also have a report called "100 Time Savers" that lists 100 quick and easy things you can use to save a minute a day.

Even though "Time Management on Crack" is the best report anyone could ever get about time management, I do have a prequel to "Time Management on Crack," called "100 Time Savers" that is at a lower price point and gets people ready for the main course, and I have a sequel to "Time Management on Crack" called "IM Productivity Secrets" which is a monthly membership site that contains ongoing training. And none of these products have any overlap.

You don't have to give away every single thing you know, because you might have a Volume II of your product.

Keep It Simple!

Here is the next thing to think about: Do you know how your cable internet gets from your computer out into the world? Probably not. I don't know either. But I still can USE my internet.

Do you know how your power company pumps electricity into your home? I don't either. But I still know how to turn on a light switch.

I can teach subjects, such as time management, without knowing exactly how psychology works, or how everything in my brain works. People don't have to know all the details.

My copywriting report, "Fast Food Copywriting," doesn't explain every single facet about copywriting, because I don't KNOW everything about copywriting. What I do know is how to accomplish a task. And that is all you really should be explaining in your paid materials, is how you accomplish a task and how other people can do the same thing you do.

I have many home study courses teaching people various things about PHP and WordPress. All I do is show how to use a certain script or WordPress plugin, and how to tweak it. That's it! Do I explain in every single report exactly what a function or a variable is? Not necessarily. I just show how to put those things into action.

And that leads me to my final point about not telling people everything you know: You deserve to get paid for your expertise.

Here is a really easy formula to decide what information you should charge for, and what to give away. If the information you are teaching about your subject is a step-by-step "How to" process, people should pay for that. But if all you are sharing is a simple tip, that is free article content or blog post content.

Inside "Fast Food Copywriting," I explain my step-by-step process for copywriting. But I also have hundreds of articles about copywriting that explain simple ideas like a headline or bullet points.

In "Time Management on Crack," there are five productivity levels you can master. There are also over 28 formulas when it comes to article writing, report writing, copywriting, and more.

I share my general time management advice in articles and in my blog posts. But the "How to", the Step-by-Step, people have to pay for that.

I hope you are now ready to knock out that next article or report - because guess what? You don't have to tell people everything you know!

Did this blog post help you? Tell me in what way... that comment form won't bite.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Britt Malka says:

    Of course, your blog post helped. They always do.

    And funny enough this blog post was in total harmony with something I read earlier today:

    Tell people WHAT to do, but not HOW TO do it (for free, that is).

    So that’s what I’m doing right now, where I’m writing articles that should lead to a free product from Marlon Sanders (who is behind the above statement of WHAT to do and not HOW to).

    Back to article 2 🙂

  2. A very good principle indeed, and in many ways that is already what we do. If we spilled all the beans I could write literally HUNDREDS of pages after five-six years in this business. 🙂

    Have a nice weekend.

  3. Dave Doolin says:

    Best tip ever:

    “Here is a really easy formula to decide what information you should charge for, and what to give away. If the information you are teaching about your subject is a step-by-step “How to” process, people should pay for that. But if all you are sharing is a simple tip, that is free article content or blog post content.”

    I probably need to print this one. On paper. And stick it to my monitor.

  4. Jeff Bode says:

    Hey Robert I like your advice about something you sell and something you give away.

    I break up the “how to” as simple tips and give them away… why not use the same content to promote the market the product right?

  5. Nancy Boyd says:

    Robert, I believe there is a fine line between whetting a person’s appetite for more — and actually delivering content.

    When I’m in a restaurant and hungry, I don’t expect all the food to come at the same time — but I do expect that I will leave there satisfied and no longer hungry. I see an analogy with a good content delivery system and marketing. You have to offer something that gets them hungry — but then you also have to deliver the “food.”

    That’s why the main course costs more 🙂

    How would you use that analogy??


  6. This is a different concept for me, but good advice. For the past 16 years I have worked as a telephony engineer and consultant (from home – yea!) and I’ve been paid well for telling people exactly what to do and helping them do it. It is a new thing to play this “game” of holding back information and and not telling people how to do something. I don’t mean to use the word “game” in a negative way. Maybe strategy would be a better term. That’s part of the intrigue of online marketing — it’s a whole new ball game. Certainly not boring. I’m just so glad I have a really good “day job” to pay my bills while I’m figuring it out.

    Have a good weekend, Robert.

    Myrtle Beach Mama

  7. Gillian says:

    Thanks Robert,

    This is very timely advice as I have just written my first two reports for my blogs and intend writing more.

    This has helped a lot with writing the next one, it makes it easier to be selective, rather than thinking I have to cram everything I know into one product.

    Best wishes


  8. You’re right. If you intend to make money, you shouldn’t “give away the store” in your free reports or other free offers. Otherwise, you’ve got nothing to sell.

    I think the goal is to create “curiosity”, “yearning”, and “anticipation”.


  9. Thomas says:

    OK, I do like the holding back some for a sequel and in all reality that shouldn’t be a problem. As I see it NO body knows all about everything. That said, we should be on a learning quest ourselves to learn more about what we teach so that we can make that sequel or 2nd edition / new revised edition etc even better.

  10. Clyde Reid says:

    I think the light finally came on after reading this post.I have been trying to make sure I put all the information I have in my ebooks and power point presentations. I just looked over the presentation package for my first webinar and realized everything in the book is in the power point slides. Not every word of course but every idea or train of thought. Glad I got this before the webinar so I can go back and revise the presentation.

    Thanks as always,

  11. Very timely post Robert – I’m working on my first information product right now. I’ve been trying to decide what to include in this first (lower priced) product – I want it to be valuable but still want to save some additional content for the next product.
    Your tips were very helpful – thanks.

  12. Alexander says:

    WOW Robert,

    Leave Room For A Sequel!

    this gives me a new way to look at product creation !
    I was stuck in the phase “I’ve still to add this and this, and this…”

    If the information you are teaching about your subject is a step-by-step “How to” process, people should pay for that. But if all you are sharing is a simple tip, that is free article content or blog post content.

    Didn’t knew this, will apply immediately.

    Thanks for this GREAT tips !


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