How I Started Selling Information Online: What It Takes To Become An Infopreneur

By Dr. Mani
36 Comments

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.

How Did This Avenue Of Making Money Online Appeal To Me?

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.

My Internet Infopreneur’s Journey

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!)

Valuable Lessons

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.

Dr. Mani

About Dr. Mani

Dr.Mani is actively engaged in spreading awareness about congenital heart disease (CHD) and fundraising to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India.

An ardent group of volunteers and donors have embraced this noble purpose that is bigger than any individual or group, and grown it into a global movement that has touched and saved the lives of 87 little children. You can help too. Learn how at http://www.DrMani.com

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36 Comments

  • Wow Dr Mani, I can’t believe the timing of this article;
    I have just had a conversation with my father (who is also a medical doctor) about getting his book published, and marketing it online.
    I’ll definitely be referring him to this post!
    Thanks,
    ~ Rory

    • Inside every doctor lurks a hidden author :-)

      Please let me know if I can help your dad in any way, Rory.

      • :-) definitely. He’s been writing for newpapers and journals for years.

        Thanks for the help-offer; him and I will definitely be discussing this post together in more detail.
        Thanks for all the info and tips.

  • Truly inspiring article doc ! Internet marketing is truly exciting and once you get in it’s just captures you and can’t just give it up. But as you said patience is the key to generate a stable income. But everyday with internet marketing has been a learning experience for me. The wait is well-worth.

  • In life sometime you just have to go out there and get it, it great to see people make their dreams come true..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • The best tips ever on how to make a living online. Thanks a lot!

  • Nice, i like the word internet infoproneur :P well, i might try it black hat one day.

  • Wow, small world Dr Mani. I live in India and am About.com’s India Travel guide. I’ve been doing that for nearly three years now. :-) I’m really looking forward to reading your future articles. I’m sure there’s a lot I can learn from you. Keep up the great work…. very inspiring.

    • Yes, small world indeed :) Now that I’ve met you here, I’ll be using your India travel site for my holiday research/planning :)

  • I first learned the term ” infopreneur” from listening to Robert G Allen’s, Multiple Streams of Income as well. The term stuck with me and I also consider myself an ” infopreneur”. What was it like starting a website in1996? I didn’t even have a computer until 2000.

    • Fun. That’s fodder for another story in the future, right? :-)

  • hi Dr. Mani-
    I agree that your passion must fuel your work, from the heart – true – & in your case entirely direct.
    thank You.

  • Enjoyed your article – and (also) very timely for me as I’ve become very interested in information marketing and creating products in that niche. Look forward to reading more.

  • Yes, you should definitely just do it! :)

    Perfectionism will lead to inaction, and you don’t get any results by not trying anything.

  • Hello Dr Mani, another great post!! I really enjoy reading your article. I’m looking forward another guest post by you. Oh ya many thanks for last interview!

  • I just started with my infopreneurial journey since January 2011. It is exciting, and what strikes me is that all experienced info marketers say that you need to have patience…..like 2 years.

  • I can’t even say how encouraging this is. I have just returned to school, planning to go to Medical School in the fall of 2013. I have 3 small kids and very little time for anything other than school, work, and family. But I have made a goal of creating enough income online to pay my way through medical and support my family in the process.

    I have 2 years and 5 months to get to around $8000. If I am able to get through medical school with no debt, I can focus on creating a better world, not just my monthly debt payment!

    Thanks so much for this!

  • Seo

    I too can vouch for residual income. I have had the joy of 4 figure residual for a few years, my goal is to parlay it to 5 or 6 figure a month income. That can become freedom.

  • Dr. Mani,

    Wow, what a great inspiring post! Also congrats on your book!!!

    Thanks for sharing,

    Karen

  • Inspiring story Mr.Mani….We live in the same city and I have talked with you once.Infact I wanted to know your story…thanks for sharing it here.

    • Hi Ragu, nice to see you here too. I’ve not told this story much, because I didn’t see it as being of much value to others – until something I read in Seth Godin’s LINCHPIN changed my mind! Glad you liked it :)

  • Hi Dr. Mani, it was the first time I’ve read an article from you and I love it. Thanks for sharing your tips! Hope to see more from you.

  • Inspiring article. I agree you must choose something you so when hard time comes you will not give up.
    Good luck to everyone!

  • Dr.Mani, thanks for this wonderful post. We all can become an infropreneur if we devote hard work!

  • NIKE really did change the world with that slogan, didn’t they?
    Absolute genius.

    YES… it’s that simple sometimes. “Just do it”

    I, for one, can SO over think things.
    When it comes to business, sometimes the only thing you can do is JUST DO!
    We don’t always have the answers… so much of this is based upon the unknown.
    You don’t answer questions or know if a strategy is the best one until you DO IT.

    Okay… i’m done.

    -Susan

  • Thanks for all the lovely comments and feedback. I apologize for not replying to each one of them, though I read them all and deeply appreciate you for taking time to share your thoughts.

    All success
    Dr.Mani

    P.S. – If there’s anything specific you’d like me to focus on in future articles, please let me know :)

  • I remember Robert Allen. Does that guy still write books? Actually, just looked him up and his website looks it was built fifteen years ago.

    I agree that writing about something you are passionate about is a key to persevering. No matter if your writing never makes you big time money at least you have sent your time writing about an interesting topic to you.

    Although, I am a bit confused as to how you made money writing and on what topic(s). You made money writing for About.com?

    - Andrew

  • Hi Dr. Mani,

    Good to see you here! Loved your article here too. For some reason I could not see my friends on Triiibes. I’ll explain you there:)

    Your lessons are worth practicing. I started blogging in 2008. I didn’t start it for earning money. I t was passion for marketing. Still in my country there are not much blogger and people don’t know that what is a blog

    The only regret I have is not starting in blogging in early days.

    That’s why as an infopreneur or a blogger, I’ve decided to make a video on “WHAT IS BLOGGING”. The best part is it would be in Urdu/Hindi language. I’ll make a English version too.

    Thanks for the motivating article.

    Regards,
    Kamil

  • Hi Dr. Mani, i find your post very useful. I am an e-entrepreneur selling products on dozens of websites revolved around many hobbies and interests. I’ve been doing internet marketing for 4-5 years now (since 2006) and it has been a great learning journey as I grew it to a business. It was a great achievement for me to see people I help succeed, I know you are too. Kudos to you doctor.

  • [...] These two business-winning strategies have served me very well in both my freelance writing work and my entrepreneurial endeavors. Interestingly enough, I’ve been able to identify them as key success indicators (and failure indicators when not implemented) in friends who’ve gone down both tracks. I encourage you to examine how you utilize each of these strategies in your own niche or version of entrepreneurship, whether you’re a blogger, a product designer, or an information marketer like E-J’s own Dr. Mani. [...]

  • Shila

    Hello,

    I enjoyed reading this article very much. My dad has been hinting to me that “infopreneurship” is the way to go. I can’t wait to discover my expertise and follow the steps. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Shila Arunachalam

  • Hi There Dr Mani.
    I sat here today with my info website dangling on the net (rarely seen).
    I have been totally disheartened and feel like never visiting it again!!!
    Peeps keep asking me how much I have made so far which is less than nothing. But you have made me feel a whole lot better about the whole situation. I have a piece of writing on there that I am proud of and have sent it off to everyone who I think would like to read it. (only had automated replies so far) but its the only item on the site people have commented on.
    I wanted to market like crazy, but now I am going to go back to the site and keep adding my research, and add some Ebooks for download.
    You have inspired me and I thank you for that.
    Sue.x

  • Just ordered your book x

  • As a budding infopreneur I found your article inspiring providing the impetus to keep slogging away at what i passionately believe can help others.Providing unbiased,science base practical skin care advice is the message i’d like to share in order to benefit others.Your article confirmed I’m on the right track!

    Susan Priestley BHSc-Clinical Dermal Therapies

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