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Editorial Management: The Life Cycle of a Product

The seven audience development steps of a successfully repurposed product

The good folks over at Mother Earth News have an admirable approach to thinking about content development.

“We think of an idea first, like energy-efficient lighting or solar power, and then we start asking ourselves how to best present that idea in a magazine article, in a blog or in a video. We think of the idea first, then we think of how to convey it to the various mediums that we have,” John Rockhold, Managing Editor told us, who increased his traffic 114% with free content.

When you start product development at the moment of “content conception”, you can decide your lead product, and where your original efforts might go.

Step one: Come up with an idea. Let’s say you are a magazine for photographers and your concept is to provide inspiration for owners and potential owners of the Canon 5D Mark II camera.

Step two: Decide what kinds of products you can create from this idea. Articles, a free special report, a handbook or photobook, a gallery, maybe even a mini-community for fans of the cult-hit camera.

Step three: Figure out your resources. Do you have the manpower to start big and then compartmentalize or, will you need to start small and built on top of it. If have the ability to start with a 200 page handbook loaded with original content and photographs, you can follow up by turning it into blog posts, free reports and webinars later on. However, if you start with an article, you can later build it into a series, which is repurposed into a white paper, which gets expanded into a handbook.

Step four: Create an outline of everything you want a reader to learn about the camera. To become the most valuable resource on the Canon 5D Mark II, you may want to launch discussion forums that support your handbook. You may want to create a photo and video gallery for Canon 5D owners to contribute to. When it comes to your information product, make sure you know the take-away from every chapter before it’s even written.

Step five: Create your first product. In order to ensure the success of a product, your first launch needs to be a success, which calls for more of the same thing. Make sure you’ve sent out personal copies of handbooks to bloggers in your niche. If you’ve launched a photo community or discussion forum, you’d want to make sure there is content populated in those areas before announcing it to the world.

Step six: Create your second product, and third product and so on. Develop new ways to bring the same information to customers on every platform. Dissect your handbook into blog posts. Reuse photographs in your gallery. Pose questions in your discussion forums that are answered in your handbook. Host a webinar that taps into the brain of the handbook author. Figure out how to say the same thing, ten different ways.

Step seven: Come up with a new idea. Don’t try to exhaust your customers with one topic. Do that one topic very well and give them every product variable they’d need to digest the information. Then, inspire them to learn about something else and start creating that product.

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