A landscaper gets a call from a new client who seems to know exactly what she wants – some azalea bushes to look at from her home office window. But the landscaper has some questions before moving forward:

“How much work are you willing to invest in maintaining your landscaping?”

“How many days of the year do you want to see it in bloom?”

“How large would you like your landscaping to grow?”

With those questions, the client realizes that she doesn’t want azaleas at all. Although they’re pretty, they require frequent pruning, watering, and fertilizing. They won’t grow as large as she wants. And they only bloom in the warmer months, while she needs something green to lift her spirits during the cold, dreary days of winter.

Instead, the landscaper recommends pine trees that will require less maintenance, will grow taller, and will stay green and beautiful all year round. (No offense, azaleas.)

The power of evergreen

The concept of “evergreen” extends beyond nature and into business. “Evergreen content” is information that is always useful and always in demand. Like the pine tree the landscaper recommended, it requires a minimum amount of maintenance from you, it is always fresh (“green”), and it has amazing growth potential.

It’s also:

  • Consistently sought after
    • People are searching online for evergreen information like “how to tie a tie” or “how to boil an egg” every hour of every day.
  • Ready when your customer is
    • Unlike a flower that only blooms in spring, evergreen content isn’t launched and re-launched seasonally – it’s continuously available.
  • Timeless
    • Today or five years from now, people will be wondering “how to close a sale” or “how to change a flat tire.” Evergreen information has no expiration date.

4 reasons to create your own evergreen product

Anyone and everyone who has useful, in-demand information to share can build and sell their own evergreen product. But why is it a smart investment? Here are four compelling reasons:

1.  Built-in market

There will always be a market for evergreen information. Will there ever be a time when people won’t need to know “How to get a passport” or “How to communicate effectively by email”? Probably not. If you’ve got material that’s relevant, customers will find it.

2.  People will pay for it

Why do people still buy cookbooks? Millions of recipes are available free online. But when people want tried and true information, they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is – whether it means a published cookbook or a recipe website subscription

3.  Saves you time

Let’s say you’re part of an award-winning string quartet with a niche following. Which is the best use of your time:

    • Planning, marketing, and launching a 3 month national tour of live concerts that take you far from home. You’ll have to continue re-launch the tour each year if you want to bring in additional income.
    • Or: recording, marketing, and releasing an iTunes album that any of your fans, wherever they live, can purchase from now until the foreseeable future.

By making the album (the evergreen product) instead of committing to the tour, you’ll open yourself up to more customers and save valuable time. Time that you can put towards rehearsing new pieces or planning your next album.

4.  Your product will last…forever.

If you created an information product that outlined how to set up your new Blackberry, well, you’re out of luck. Instead, ensure your product’s staying power by harnessing the perennial demand of evergreen content. You’ll be able to create a single product, launch it once, and sell it forever.

The best platform for your product

Evergreen content can be displayed and shared in so many ways – PDFs, e-books, webinars, rolling online courses, e-learning platforms, emails, videos, and more. The platform you pick should fulfill these three criteria:

  1. Provide the most valuable content
  2. Require minimal time and effort from you
  3. Ensure maximum results from your students.

Here are a few examples of different platforms and how they stack up against our criteria.

Option 1 – PDF

PDFs have their place, but it’s not in the evergreen business. These days, they’re so ubiquitous and easy to create that they have very low value. They’re a static delivery method that can’t grow, change, or invite input from others. Also, they’re not mobile friendly. Have you ever tried to read a PDF on a smartphone? Exactly.

Option 2 – E-book

You can’t give someone a biochemistry e-book and expect them to learn biochemistry. Traditional textbooks and e-books lack interactivity and paced instruction. For an evergreen product, you’ll want something that provides a better learning experience. And although an e-book has a higher value point than a PDF, it’s still fairly low on the spectrum.

Option 3 – Rolling online course

Okay, now we’re getting a little warmer. Leading a class yourself, with a start and end date and class meeting times, will provide a quality educational experience. But it requires too much of your time to be a worthwhile investment.

Think about a college professor who has taught the same Critical Reading Skills lecture for the last 10 years. It’s identical every semester. At this point, he’s providing his TIME, but not any new CONTENT.

Now, people generally value college courses more than online courses. But the exact same Critical Reading Skills lecture could be replicated online for a slight reduction in value that would garner the professor far more time. Time for catching up on his reading, doing researching, or planning his next course (or retirement!).

And it’s not just the time spent in class. It’s the time spent on launching and relaunching: printing out syllabi, requesting textbooks, getting to know new students, grading final exams.

A rolling course also reduces the amount of possible participants. Think of how many more students you could accommodate if no one was locked into your class schedule.

Option 4 – Learning Management System (LMS) or E-Learning Platform

Your best bet for creating high quality, profitable evergreen content? An online platform that’s built just for learning and teaching. You’ve heard the buzzwords: Learning Management System, Internet Based Training, E-Learning Platform, Digital Educational Collaboration, etc. They all mean one thing: intuitive, effective learning through a digital interface, allowing you to harness all the benefits of your evergreen content with a low time investment.

Just a few of the benefits:

  • Minimal time to create

Online learning platforms make it simple for you to create, manage and update an evergreen course. Then, you can continue to sell it (forever!) without being hands-on involved in each student’s experience.

  • Dripped content

A study for the Association of Psychological Science proved that students in a long-term course consisting of shorter individual class sessions outperformed students in a short-term course with longer sessions. E-learning makes it easy to manage your flow of information, providing a steady stream of content instead of dropping an entire course load on your overwhelmed students.

  • Student feedback

Request feedback from your students and use the data to tweak your course. Asking something as simple as “What course would you want to take next?” can give you a new product opportunity.

  • Community & connectivity

E-learning is inherently social. When students comment, interact, and otherwise participate, they feel a stronger connection to your content (and your brand).

  • Super convenience

Students can work within their own schedules, in any time zone, at any time of year, to take your course. More opportunities to accept students = increased revenue for you.

  • Include more multimedia

Video is everywhere, and it increases the value of your product. Would you be more likely to pay for an article about how to knit a scarf, or a high-quality video tutorial that SHOWS you exactly what to do? Multimedia is one of the best ways to educate your students.

Evergreen is everything.

The future is green! Green with timeless, relevant content. Green with consistent course revenue. Even green with envy as students marvel at your fantastic content. With an evergreen course, you’ll be able to deliver the most valuable, in-demand information for the best return on your time investment – harnessing the power of evergreen to share your knowledge for years to come.

**Summit Evergreen can get you started on your first evergreen online course. Check out our cool features.**

About the author: