Installation Guide Updated for 7DSS 2.8

Well, it's been a long time coming... and now the completely-revised, new-and-improved $7 Secrets Scripts Installation Guide has been released.

Updated for 7DSS version 2.8, the guide attempts to make it much easier to get started with the software used by thousands of Internet marketers to quickly bring their information products to market.

You can read more about it here or simply download it from the link in the $7 Secrets report.

I also thought it would be instructive to relate how the new guide came together, since it is, in itself, an information product and you may find my experience helpful as you create your own product.

The Beginning

I actually began creating this guide in August 2007, about a week before Jon Leger indicated his interest in selling the $7 Secrets brand. My purpose was to create an information product that I could sell, having seen something lacking in the existing guide. As I wrote in the preface to my first attempt:

Installing and using the scripts that come with $7 Secrets should be fairly straightforward. My experience on the $7 Secrets Forum and from installing the scripts for a number of clients, though, has shown that it's far from simple for many people.

Much of the content I wrote in that first week still exists in the new guide, although the scripts version stood at 2.6. I was writing the guide, too, to correct some issues with that version, offering instructions on modifying the scripts:

'What? You want me to modify the scripts?!?' Well, yes. There are a couple changes that you can and/or should make that will make the scripts operate better for you and enhance the experience for your customer. Stay calm! I'll show you where and how to make these simple edits.

However, when I ended up purchasing the $7 Secrets brand, my time was taken up with the transition from Jon to me; with updating the report itself and the sites; and with providing support for the software (and updating it). Also, the monetary benefit of writing the guide was taken away, since I now felt that I owed it to my (new) customers to tell them how to properly install and use the script—without charge.

But that would mean doing a complete rewrite of the guide.

A New Approach

Making some minor edits of the $7 Secrets report was a pretty easy task. It mostly meant updating the document with my name and website and changing some links. Even a later edit only changed the wording of a few sections of the report, making them clearer to understand without changing Jon's original intent.

(By the way, a lot of PLR material that you purchase will be the same. Just update it to keep it relevant or to make it sound like it came from you, and perhaps combine it with some other material you've acquired or written.)

Editing the installation guide was a completely different story. It didn't need an editor; it needed a new author. First off, the instructions hadn't been updated since March 2007, when version 2.4 of the scripts was released. A half-dozen or more features had been added that weren't documented anywhere but in a handful of forum posts.

Second, the actual purpose of the software—how to use it and what to expect—was simply glossed over in the original installation manual. A good number of the questions being asked on the forum were simply due to not understanding how the customer would interact with a site using the software.

Also, a lot of the users of 7DSS are new to Internet marketing and don't have the frame of reference to understand all of the concepts presented in either the report or the installation guide. It was my goal to provide additional resources to help them in their entry to Internet marketing.

So my first step was to document all of the options currently in the software. Thoroughly. Not just the settings, but also the purpose of each file. And I included a troubleshooting section to highlight some of the things that can go wrong even if you're careful.

There's perhaps some excruciating detail in the guide, which accounts for the original 23 pages now ballooning to 53 pages. I wanted to err on the side of too much information rather than too little, though.

Something for you to keep in mind, as I did myself: write to your audience, not to yourself. I'm a programmer, but I had to make sure that I wrote the guide as a user would want to read (and understand) it. Too often, authors, particularly those imparting technical information, forget that their audience doesn't have the benefit of their years of experience and need "simple" concepts spelled out for them.

If you're writing to a wide-ranging audience, write to them as if they're all new to the subject. Your more-experienced readers can skip ahead, but the newbies won't be missing information vital to their success with the topic.

My next step was to give a lot of attention to the 7DSS sales and delivery process. The report doesn't really go over these aspects, except to hit the affiliate process and briefly touch on the list building aspect.

The guide now answers questions like "What is an OTO?" and "Why is it important to collect the name and address of my customer?" Many of the 7DSS installations that I review and buy from indicate that the seller doesn't understand the importance of these areas, since they don't use these features.

My hope is that users will gain a greater understanding of the process and use it to increase their income as a result. I also wouldn't mind receiving fewer support questions on the forum, either. :-)

A New Look

As I began putting the guide together, I thought about how I'd present additional resource material to newbies. Yes, there would be a section devoted to that, but I also didn't want them flipping back and forth to get to related information. On the other hand, I wanted to make sure that experienced users wouldn't be interrupted by my brief forays into beginner-land.

I decided to put a sidebar in, then place all the extra bits of information there. Although tips and links are close by the related topic, they're slightly outside the regular flow of information.

Putting in the sidebar meant I really did need to experiment with something that I was considering: using landscape orientation for the pages. While books, typically printed in portrait orientation, can usually fit a sidebar well, adding the right column to this e-book didn't allow space for screenshots at the size I wanted them.

In addition, my line lengths would have been very short. I used a larger font size for easier on-screen readability, figuring that most users would be reading from a monitor. (The larger text also figured somewhat in the additional length of the guide.) Lines that are too short can make your work more difficult to read—Google "line length readability" for studies on this topic.

So landscape orientation not only worked for the look I was going for, but it also fit with what some of the "experts" are saying about the best way to format e-books. After all, most computer monitors are oriented in landscape.

I suppose that those few who print out the guide may be annoyed by the orientation, but the nice thing about printed material is that you can change how you hold or display it. The sidebar has another advantage for you, too: you can make notes there.

Besides worrying about line lengths, I was concerned about the readability of the font I used. I already knew that body text in serif fonts (Times, Garamond, etc.) is easier to read than text set in sans serif fonts (Arial, Helvetica, etc.), so I initially set the body in Times New Roman. I used Gill Sans for section headlines; sans serif fonts are better for display and headline text.

This looked fine as I created the document in Word, but when I came to the end of the process and created the PDF, I found that the resulting e-book text just wasn't as clear as the original. I actually had to go back and reformat the text in the entire document using different fonts, changing the character spacing and leading in several spots to make it flow properly.

In case you're wondering, I used Adobe Warnock Pro for the body text and Myriad Pro for headlines. Both turned out very readable on-screen and in print, and the leading (basically, the whitespace between lines) was just right. I also used Helvetica and Courier in various places to distinguish messages and settings in the software.

When creating your own e-book, be sure to use the Styles feature in your word processor. By setting a run of text to a particular style, you can easily change the characteristics of that style and see the changes flow through the document.

Use clear illustrations to demonstrate your points. Remember that some people comprehend better when they can actually see what you're describing. I used actual shots of my screen to illustrate what a user would see when using the software and made the FTP examples as large as I could to be sure that users could read them. I also sprinkled icons throughout the guide to bring attention to items of particular interest, like things that would "break" the software.

Now, about links: there are a lot of them in the guide. In general, I think that you should err on the side of too few rather than too many, but it depends on how you structure your e-book.

It also matters how you present them to your readers. It may be appropriate to have a single page with a lot of links dumped on it, but I think your readers will be more appreciative of links that are introduced. Tell them something about the resources you're recommending and explain why you've included them.

This is particularly important when you're dealing with affiliate links. Don't throw in a link because you can make money on it; recommend products that have a genuine value for your readers. You'll find that your thoughtful introduction to a useful product may sway more buyers than the seller's own sales page.

The installation guide has 30 links in it, but only a third are affiliate links. Of those 10 affiliated products, I use or have used eight; the other two are from sellers whose other products I bought. Don't refer products you've never had any experience with—at some point your readers will label you a "hack" and never listen to you again.

Some of your readers will be annoyed at any links that lead to paid products, even your own. Tough! You're in business to make money and, particularly when you're distributing a free e-book that took you time to create (like my guide), you should use your all your creative materials to move people through your marketing system. Just take care in how you do it.

One last experience I wanted to relate was the actual creation of the PDF. When I first revised $7 Secrets I couldn't figure out why my copy was so much bigger than Jon's. After struggling with it for a while, I found the setting that allowed me to considerably reduce the file size of my PDFs.

I use Adobe Acrobat, which installs a toolbar in Word to create PDFs. However, using it gave me a 1.2M installation guide, which was much too large. Even using the Reduce File Size command in Acrobat didn't help. Luckily, I found that by using the Adobe PDF printer driver, I could access the Smallest File Size option and reduce the file size to about 700K.

In all, the process of creating the guide was challenging to me and I hope it was instructive for you.