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Businesses I’ve Tried and What I’ve Learned - Part 5: Infopreneur

By: Steve Johnson

9/15/2008 - 59 Comments

My fifth business is selling information.  The business was started in 2008 and is still operation today. 

This is Part 5 of an article series that tells the story of what I learned from several businesses that I’ve started.

I started selling information when I published my first ebook, called ‘Save Money Homeschooling’ and used my website business to help market the ebook online with a corresponding website www.SaveMoneyHomeschooling.com

Several years ago my wife and I became so discouraged by the declining educational system that we decided to homeschool our children and in the process have learned a lot about how save money homeschooling.  It turns out that the number one concern with homeschoolers in finding ways to save money.  What I discovered was that marketing information is probably 80% of the business, while creating the information is only about 20%.

My second opportunity to sell information was when I started this personal finance blog.  It turns out that the many things I learned about financial planning over the past decade while trying to start a business is very valuable information to many others – especially now that the economic has taken a turn for the worst.

Blogging is becoming an industry on its own, with several of the top bloggers becoming full-time professional bloggers.  The low cost of Internet publishing coupled with the low cost of Internet marketing and the additional control of online advertising that can provide better targeting and tracking of customer responses has resulted in a new disruptive market which has become a real threat to newspaper media. 

This new disruptive market in online publishing brings me all the way back to my second business where I published a newsletter.  Blogging has allowed me to become a publisher once again and leverage everything I learned from my previous publishing business.

Blogging has also filled the need of a marketing partner that I needed for my website design business.  Today I use my blog to build relationships with a large group of people which I can promote my website design solutions to.  They are much more willing to trust me because of the relationship I have with them from reading my blog.

Circle of Experts

During my decade long business pursuit, I have realized that no matter how much I learn, I will never be able to keep up with every market, yet many of the market conditions affect my business which I am not in control of.  Not being able to control market conditions adds risk to my business model because a quick change could be disastrous.  Therefore, I have come to rely on a circle of experts in several key markets that could affect my business.  These people provide me with information about coming changes which allows me to adjust my business to protect my revenue streams and my customers.

Here is a list of key industry experts that I use to support my business;

  • Accounting / Tax Planning Expert – It's a good idea to do your own accounting until your large enough to hire it out, but always stay on top of your finances and ask your expert lots of questions
  • Legal Advisor / Small Business Expert – My initial meeting cost me over $500 but was worth it to establish a relationship. Legal advise is very important because if your business grows, you will eventually get sued (this is America), so plan for it before it happens.
  • Business Banking Expert – I have built a good relationship with several banks, keeping financial options open and have also talked to several Venture Capitalists about funding options
  • Industry Experts – Always looking for partners, expert freelance contractors, studying competitive advantages and gaining respect with competitors
  • Real Estate / Mortgage Broker Expert – Real-estate is a very important industry that you cannot afford not to keep an eye on.  I refinanced my home three time in 2003-2006 saving $30k and avoided the real-estate bubble because of my advisors
  • Long-Term Financial (Estate) Planning Expert – Once you have some money, the challenge become keeping it. This relationship will continue to grow with time

Business Model Constraints

Becoming an Infopreneur was a long journey for me and now that I have tasted success at it, I don’t see myself stopping.  Very few find success in Infopreneur and the few that do stick with it.  The only business model constraint that I see is my limited time to produce and market new information.  I can only write so fast.  This is the restrain that the leading bloggers are competing against each other with. 

The leaders are working long hours to write more content then everyone else and there is no room for time off, because as your readership grows they expect to read new ideas every day. As Rudyard Kipling once said, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Blogging is like a drug, once you start, you have an insatiable urge to continue.

I have created a plan to grow my online income to the level of a professional blogger and I wrote about it in this article; Crossing The (Internet) Chasm

Primary concepts that I learned

The primary concepts that I learned from this business were;

The smallest trickle can grow exponentially – Selling ebooks and writing articles on a blog are not going to make you rich, but over time they continue to bring in revenue and taken together can eventually add up to a river of revenue.

Innovate to create the market that you want to be a part of – The blogosphere is a new industry, if you want a part of the market, get involved with building it.  I am using my website business to build new services like a blog network, multiple blogs and new tools that help other bloggers.

Blogging is perfect for marketing – I envision the future of marketing to migrate to Internet marketing. Marketing is about being the liaison between customers and companies.  The job of marketing is to understand what customers need and translate that into product requirements and what better way to accomplish that then being involved in conversations with customers. In a few short years, I think leading bloggers are going to be in high demand as large businesses get into bidding wars over them.

Continue to invest in marketing – Selling information is 20% about creating the information and 80% about marketing it.  Continuing to invest in marketing is the only way to continue to build trusted relationships with new and existing customers. In a world with an increasing number of scam artists and shady business practices, creating trusted relationships with your existing customers has becoming more and more valuable. 

Conclusion

I hope this series of articles has provided you will some useful information on your journey to become a business owner. The most interesting thing to me is that I learned the most from my publication business that failed. Without that failed business, I wouldn't have found the understanding that I needed. Maybe the best thing that an entrepreneur can do is to fail a time or two.

Previous article: Businesses I’ve Tried and What I’ve Learned - Part 4: Website Design

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