Turning Knowledge Into Dollars

Selling legitimate information products on eBay (and elsewhere online)

by Skip McGrath
- Apr 24, 2008

When you hear the words "information products," the first thing most people think about are get-rich-quick money-making schemes. That's not what this article is about.

Finding products to sell is the single biggest problem eBay sellers face today. I am in my ninth year of selling on eBay, and finding profitable products is still a daily challenge.

I asked myself: "If I was looking for the ultimate eBay product today, what characteristics would it have?"

  • It would be highly profitable.
  • It would have an unlimited supply.
  • It would be easy and cheap to deliver and ship.
  • I would own or control it.
  • There would be very little competition.
  • It would lend itself to up-selling and cross-selling.

So what product meets all of these specifications? Information meets every one of these criteria.

As previously stated, I am not talking about money-making programs. I am talking about actual knowledge-based products that do at least one of the following things:

  • Help people
  • Educate people
  • Solve a problem
  • Entertain

Information is one of the leading commodities sold today—and it has been for years. People will pay good money for targeted information that helps them solve a problem or teaches them a new skill. The Complete Idiot's Guide to… is one of the largest and most successful book franchises in the world. I'm old enough to remember the first Idiot's Guide from about 20 years ago. It was a little book called The Complete Idiot's Guide to Juggling. Millions of people paid $9.95 for that little book. I think the second book was The Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing the Harmonica, and it also sold millions of copies. Who knew so many people wanted to learn how to juggle or play harmonica? Today there are more than 300 various titles for idiot's and others. Wiley Publishing, which publishes the competing For Dummies guides, also has hundreds of titles on every subject you can imagine.

The biggest hurdle is actually creating the product

Now I am not suggesting you write an Idiot's Guide (although I did. The Complete Idiot's Guide to eBay was published in 2007). These books will continue to sell well, but the new way to deliver information is over the Internet.

It used to be that if you created an information product it had to be printed and shipped out to people. But today information is being delivered electronically. And it's not just ebooks. People are also creating videos, audio files, music downloads, DVDs, memberships Web sites and software applications for distribution via the Web. If you this is a small, specialized market, think again. Electronic information sales over the Internet exceeded $11 billion in 2007. And about $1 billion of those sales took place on eBay alone.

There are four steps to succeeding in the information business:

  1. Create a product.
  2. Sell the product.
  3. Get paid.
  4. Deliver the product.

Mastering these four steps is the key to success. Do any one of them wrong and you will fail.

Fortunately for the little guy or gal that wants to get into this business, eBay and PayPal provide the perfect platform. You still have to create the product (more about that below), but eBay offers a low-risk method to get eyeballs to your sales proposition, and PayPal offers the ideal way to both get paid and deliver the product.

The biggest hurdle is actually creating the product. Do you have specialized knowledge that would help, entertain or educate other people? If so, then that is where to start. Write an eBook, create a video, or come up with some type of product you can share with other people. Once you do this it is fairly simple to write and list an eBay auction. eBay even has a special category for this called Information Products. Set up PayPal as an instant payment method when someone buys the product. Then set up your PayPal account to redirect the buyers to a delivery page when they buy the product.

Probably the best way to learn how this is done is to look at how other eBay sellers are doing it. An easy way to find listings for these types of products is to type the words "how to" into the eBay search box and view some of the hundreds of results you'll unearth.

About the Author

Skip McGrath is an eBay Gold PowerSeller who has been selling on eBay since 1999. He is the publisher of The eBay Seller's News and author of The Complete eBay Marketing System.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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