Building in Public

July 27, 2023

Can You Build Info Products in Public?

Written by:

Kevon Cheung

If you’re reading this, it is likely because you heard the term “Building in Public” from the indie (independent) software world.

And you’re now wondering whether you can use this strategy to build your information products like books, courses, coaching programs, communities, or memberships in public.

I’d like to save you some time: the answer is YES.

And it is AWESOME!

While Building in Public is a common term and everyone uses it a bit differently, my version of Building in Public (what you learn at Public Lab and Build in Public Mastery) is entirely built on top of information products.

Take a look at the products I’ve built in public: a guide, a course, and a book.

What I’ve done is that I’ve taken a broad Build in Public concept from the indie software world, and over the years after teaching hundreds closely, I’ve designed a framework that is specially for creator-educators. As long as you’re sharing knowledge, this framework will help you.

Now let me tell you why Building in Public is perfect and awesome for information products.

1. The magic of having a start and end date

People love to watch. People are curious. People are nosy.

This is why when there’s a critical event in our world, we check the news to see if it has been resolved.

Software products actually don’t have an end date, so you have to use new features and exciting revenue growth to intrigue your community.

But for information products, the start date is when you have the idea in mind and the end date is when you finally launch it to your community.

The clear timeline gets people interested. They want to know how your product is evolving. They want to find out what happens.

They don’t care whether you’re going to make $100,000 from the product. They just want to know what happens.

And this is why Building in Public is awesome for information products — you can build and involve your community to create momentum and you can use that momentum to create a bigger launch.

Each of your products becomes a movie.

2. You can win. Your competitors can win too

A kind of question I get almost every week is about the risk of Building in Public.

“Does sharing my progress open the door for others to copy my ideas?”

Monica Lent, a co-founder of Affilimate, has been building in public by openly sharing her income reports.

But after 11 months, this is what she wrote:

In the software space, customers tend to only choose one tool to use. If they use Hypefury to schedule their posts, they wouldn’t use Tweet Hunter. So in a way, if you’re sharing too many lessons learned, you’re helping your competitors.

But for information products, it works differently.

If someone wants to copy your knowledge, all they need to do is to buy your product, plagiarize it, and make it their own product with different packaging. It is too easy.

So if it is that easy, my logic is — let’s play offense, not defense.

Also, another behavior I spotted is that customers for information products have the tendency to buy from multiple creators. They love to learn from different sources to pick up different perspectives because they know it is bad to learn from one person. And most of the time, it is a one-off fee.

All these mean 2 things to you.

For one, since it is so easy to access all your knowledge, you can enjoy more benefits than harm by putting everything out there. Everything I mean your ideas, thought process, lessons learned, and such. Why? Because these help you build connections with fans. And if they like you, they buy from you.

My student at Build in Public Mastery, Terry, experienced this:

For two, even if someone takes something from you, it is bringing more awareness to a topic. With a bigger market, with people buying from multiple creators, you can win together. Be the bigger person and you’ll grow much faster.

Your downside is going to happen anyway. Your upside is the increased trust and credibility with your fans. Which one do you want?

You can create a win-win-win situation for your customers, other creators, and yourself.

3. They’re buying who you are

If you’re creating information products and you also buy information products, I want to ask you this question:

“The last person you bought from, how much of the buying decision goes into you liking the person versus you think it is a revolutionary info product?”

I’m willing to bet that 80% of the time, you buy because you like the person behind the product. Not entirely because of the product!

This also explains why my students usually follow me for months (like 3 months) before hopping into Build in Public Mastery. It takes time for them to learn about my style, my personality, and everything! Even though we might not have chatted, we’re forming an invisible bond.

They get to know you as a person, not just as a content creator.

Instead of being that expert who throws out wisdom bombs over and over, you tell interesting stories, you show progress, and you are honest about it. You make it all real. When you spend months creating one info product and you show it, your community knows that they can get their money worth it.

The best part — all this accumulates as you work on more products. This is why you need to play the long game.

Remember this one thing

My framework for Building in Public is all about marketing. If you can’t get traction for whatever you’re building, it doesn’t matter that you’ve built a trustworthy brand.

This is why when you start building info products in public early, you’re giving yourself a much longer window to market.

This is important!

When someone suddenly comes up to you to sell you candy, would you eat it?

What if you’ve been hearing about this candy from a few friends over the last few months, would you eat it?

You get it now.

If you’re curious and want to learn how to build your next information products in public, make sure to check out my course, Build in Public Mastery.

After 2 years and 9 live cohorts, we’re now becoming a self-paced, interactive course X an action community.

We’re giving you the space to learn at your own pace, but we’re also giving you the accountability and support of a cohort.

Yup, the course is AWESOME too.

To wrap this up, I have some examples of creators building their books, courses, coaching programs, or memberships in public.

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Table of Contents

Should YOU Build in Public?

Actually, let me rephrase: do you want to build products your community wants?

Yes, I WANT TO 💪

Should YOU Build in Public?

Actually, let me rephrase: do you want to build products your community wants?

Yes, I WANT TO 💪