I’m an Internet infopreneur. The term itself needs some explaining upfront, so let me begin with that. An infopreneur is an “information entrepreneur”, someone who turns words (or more specifically, information) into income – in a number of innovative ways. I’m an infopreneur who uses the Internet as a medium for distributing and monetizing information.
It all began when I read a short free report – around 11 pages – by famous author and real estate specialist Robert Allen. In that report, Bob explained the real value of building a business around information and infoproducts. Two things about it attracted me immediately.
#1 – You can add value to the world through your words. There is a deluge of data all around. But data, while helpful, isn’t quite valuable. What’s really valuable is INFORMATION. It turns what was a noisy cacophony into a melodious symphony, and information is what people in need or search of it will pay you for – happily.
#2 – You can get paid forever for work done once. Think about an author who writes a book. Let’s say it takes a year of hard work to get it finished. But then, if it becomes a best-seller, it could sell a few MILLION copies over the next twenty years, and the author will get paid royalties all through this time…even if he doesn’t write a single word more!
These were the benefits that turned me towards information entrepreneurship.
The year was 1995, and the Internet had just come to India. I was an early adopter, and found myself fascinated at the global reach and access the World Wide Web offered at my fingertips.
For the first few months, I simply browsed and learned. Everything was exciting and fun. I could read documents from the world’s most famous medical libraries, follow discussions on public forums populated by top specialists in any field, and download reports, read articles and explore websites providing very niche information on diverse subjects.
Consuming quickly led to creating. I built my first website in 1996. It was about heart disease (my area of specialization as a medical professional) and hosted on the free Geocities server. That website was a labor of love. I wrote detailed articles about various facets of heart health and preventing or treating heart disease. No thought of making money from it had struck my mind, even after reading the infopreneuring document by Bob Allen.
For eight months, hardly anyone read my site. The monthly visitor count barely hit double digits. But since then, and until today, I maintain that it is never about “how many” but always about “who” is in your contact network. One of the people who read my articles was Bob Schulties, whom I later discovered was scouting for writing talent to populate a new website with content.
At that time, no one had heard of “The Mining Company”. Today, many million Netizens know of it as About.com, the Web’s 7th most visited online property! I was the heart disease guide on the service for nearly 2 years. It was the first time someone thought my content valuable enough to pay me for it, and right from that time, I’ve been paid a lot for my writing! (In fact, my writing has helped fund my surgical work with under-privileged children born with congenital heart defects, but that’s another story for another day!)
Even this very early foray I took into infopreneuring has many valuable lessons for today’s beginners thinking about becoming information entrepreneurs. Here are some:
1. Be the expert. I doubt if my writing would have appealed to anyone if it had not been rooted in specialist knowledge that was designed to help someone solve a problem. And we are all experts at something. Finding that area of special knowledge, and tying it in to a need that exists in the world, is at the root of being a successful infopreneur.
2. Just do it. Too many people try to figure it all out before they begin. This can be harmful, because more often than not, you’ll end up convincing yourself about how sure you are to fail! Instead, if you have a fair idea what you’d like to do, just go on and try it out. Sure, you might still fail – but even if you do, you’ll learn something valuable. Then again, you just might succeed!
3. Be patient and passionate. I’m a contrarian in what I teach about information marketing because my emphasis is on following your passion and doing something you like and enjoy. The rationale is simple. Meaningful success in writing and information product selling is bound to take some time and effort. If you pursue topics you are not really engaged with or enthusiastic about, it becomes easy to give up when things go slow or bad. Be prepared to wait for success. It will arrive – in time.
4. Information is precious. Information is the distilled, curated, analyzed, interpreted and collated version of raw data. The expert infopreneur has the skills and knowledge to go after sources of data, sift through the mess, and come up with the rare golden nuggets – and then present them to an audience in a way that is easy to consume, and of tangible value to them.
5. Residual income is the goal. Working on a strategy with your information business is important if you’re looking to make it a reliable source of profit and something to scale, develop and turn into a valuable asset – maybe even sell off for a big payday somewhere down the line. A strategic approach is what turns casual article writing and occasional ebook publishing into a sustainable information product empire that grows and gets more and more profitable over time.
It took me ten years to wrap my head around the intricacies and nuances of information marketing. But for all that time, it was enjoyable, exciting and educational. That’s the reason I stuck with it. After gaining so much experience and expertise, I decided to write a book that teaches information marketers the steps along the path.
That book took almost a year to finish, but “Think, Write and Retire!” became an Amazon.com Top 100 seller within 24 hours of its launch. The title was chosen specifically to encapsulate the infopreneur’s dream.
“Think” – because you need to plan your strategy, identify your expertise, and analyze your market’s needs. “Write” – (or record/tape) because nothing happens unless you just do it, create that infoproduct, share your knowledge with others. “Retire” – because that’s what infopreneuring can help you do, if you want.
In another article soon, I’ll explore more specific areas of the infopreneur journey I’ve been enjoying for a decade and a half. This short report was more of an overview of the process. We’ll dig deeper into different parts of it, so that you can learn how to be an information entrepreneur too.
If you have any questions or issues you’d like addressed, please leave a note in the comments.