The business of infopreneuring

July 16, 2014 | 24 comments. | Comment on this post

Hope word with shadow, backgroundOver 15 years ago, Harry Beckwith published, ‘Selling the Invisible’. It was a commentary on the move from selling hard goods and manufacturing, to selling services.

In this internet marketing age we’ve seen an immense upsurge in ‘Selling Hope’.

It took me a while to see this. I thought I was selling solutions. ‘How to become self-employed!’ I was fervent about pushing people along. Finding their motive, finding a viable idea, creating it into an offering, launching it and them becoming free agents!

As time went on, I realized how many people had been paying me $95 per month for three years or more. I’d check their member profiles and see zero activity for months, if not a year. This left me feeling flat-out guilty.

Were they like me and just didn’t check bank or credit card statements? Was I inadvertently stealing their money? I went on a rampage, personally contacting each member and in some cases…chastising them. Telling them it wasn’t good for them or me to have them paying and not using our services and progressing!

My idealism run amok.

What I heard back from most was…they were holding on to hope. They were ‘lurking’. The read what I put out and listened to classes here and there. And it was helping keep hope alive.

Then, I saw so many people finally take action. Their time had come.

In the world of infopreneuring, selling information, the primary asset is…HOPE. And inspiration.

All the business bloggers and experts who dutifully pump out books, blogs and podcasts with great, actionable information, are mainly being followed for…HOPE.

And to be honest, it’s entertainment. Positive entertainment. You may learn something you can use, and you are inspired.

NOTE: If you are trying to make a go of infopreneuring, realize it is very much a popularity contest. You’ve got to churn out content and keep the inertia running at a high level. You need to be a master of social media. You need credibility of others citing you as a viable resource. You need to be speaking, writing, presenting, connecting and playing the game very well.

*You’ve gotta have great content too!

But many who have great content don’t realize the score and what it all really takes.

This coming Thursday I’m speaking for the Business Chamber of Southern Colorado, led by my good friend Jill Davis. The room will be filled with small business owners. The people who own and run the small businesses that run our country. I like to call them ‘Main Street Businesses’.

Most of these folks couldn’t tell you the latest New York Times bestselling flavor of the day book, top ranked iTunes business podcast or who reigns in the biz blogosphere. I know, as I’ve tried to toot my horn about being on the Entrepreneur on Fire show recently and gotten blank stares…

Why?

They are busy running their businesses. Serving meals or coffee or beer. Cleaning carpets. Managing employees. Doing the books. Advertising.

They don’t sell information. They sell hard products and services that people rely on. They fulfill desires and solve problems.

What’s my point?

For many of you desiring to be self-employed and enmeshed in this online world of blogging, podcasting, book writing and TED talks, realize this is a really small segment of self-employment. It doesn’t really make up The Millionaire Next Door small business owners that Thomas Stanley wrote about almost two decades ago.

And the primary audience for online business infopreneuring is ‘Wantrepreneurs’. People desiring a business venture, but not engaged in one or really taking action toward it.

The primary audience for ‘Main Street America Small Businesses’ is…people who need a tangible product or service to fulfill a need or solve a problem.

So if you’re desiring to be a free agent and listening to infopreneurs in a world of online marketing and business whose primary deliverable is hope and primary audience is wantrepreneurs…

Is that the business model that fits you? Fine if it is, but again, it’s a very small segment of the true self-employed and it requires much more in the way of selling yourself. And for every one ‘customer’ who takes action on your counsel, there will be a sea who appreciate your hope and inspiration, but may not act for a long time…if at all.

The opportunities for self-employment are vast. Think about it the next time you’re downtown sipping coffee from a business owner that’s never heard of Seth Godin or John Lee Dumas. Much less (dramatically), me.

  • http://WoosleyCoaching.com James Woosley

    Good stuff, Kevin. It’s very much the “curse of knowledge” playing a role, too. Because we know it we assume everyone else does.

    And we are immersed online and forget about the real world. All those pretty ideals and theories and processes that “work” online may not be so simple outside the digital vacuum. It’s time to get back to the real world, stop staring at screens all day and talk with real people. Thanks for the reminder!

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Thanks James. As usual…just speaking from my own journey…I’m enjoying diving back into more tangible products and services too.

  • http://www.48Days.net Dan Miller

    Kevin,

    Man I love this post. You are so right. So many have chased these “invisible” businesses – with no real tangible product at all, and often little more than smoke and mirrors. I have a great appreciation for they guys who do our yard mowing, landscaping and trash pickup. We just had a young guy paint all the stucco on our house. I had two other bids but this guy suggested sealing the stucco first and pointed out that I really needed to caulk around all the windows as well. I loved his attention to detail and the professionalism of the completed job.

    Do I love the “invisible” world of hope, inspiration and encouragement – absolutely. But it’s time we validate the worth of businesses that have real products – that can service our cars, fix our food, and do our dry cleaning. I’m confident we’ll see a resurgence of those Mom and Pop businesses – and I think we should be exposing our children to those as well. Not everyone needs to sit at a computer and sell the invisible.

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Hey…I’m honored Dad! Yeah, I’m not abandoning the ‘info’ world, but harnessing it to help sell more ‘hard’ offerings. And hey, my roots are with you…in real Mom & Pop businesses, eh?!

  • http://www.tedyoder.com tedyoder

    I find myself caught somewhere in between both these worlds. I offer something physical and sensory to the real world and yet content on the web is pretty huge too.
    Not much else to add other than I really liked the read. Thanks.

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Yeah, you’ve got a good mix Ted!

  • http://www.getsmoreoutdoor.com/ Brett Traudt

    Thank you for sharing your heart Kevin. I appreciate all that you do and how you have had an impact in my life. I have stayed because of your message and a place I can go to to bounce ideas off. Maybe I don’t spend as much time as I should in FAA, but I stay because of the community so don’t feel like you are stealing my money.

    As you know, i create a tangible product, but my goal with it isn’t to open a physical shop and have my soap in stores. I know that would increase my business, but my whole goal with it is to sell online. Which for me is a perfect business model. Will it lead me to riches? Only time will tell.

    I have been caught up in the information world, bought some myself, and thought about what I could create relating to the outdoors. I know information products are huge because of some who provide their income reports. You can definitley get caught up in the invisible and the idea the money is there. You definitley point out some great points about how you have to put in a lot of work and I hope this post reaches tons of people.

    Just the other day, when I was in Yosemite no less geting out from my electrical paradise, I realized I didn’t need to worry about “what” information product I could create, but that I just need to share a message… my experience, what I’ve learned about the outdoors, living in a digital world and how others can beneift from getting outdoors more. My message isn’t about hope which is where I currently see the big bucks being made, my heart is about practical advice living in a digital world and I have to share this message. I decided I want to get my message out there through audio, podcasting, because I enjoy talking. What will come of it? I don’t know… maybe an information product, maybe a community, maybe a retreat. but that’s not my goal. My goal is to have an impact on just one person. I am doing it because it’s fun for me!

    We will continue to live in a brick and morter world and I love it. And someday, my wife and I will have one of these places. A place where people can come to relax and unplug and enjoy what we have created… all because of you and your message.

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Thanks so much for your encouraging words, Brett. Selling your ‘hard’ products online. Like…Saddleback Leather! Obviously a solid biz model. And yes, harnessing this online world to sell tangible products is not only relevant, but necessary.

      Brother, I’m just continually honored to be a small part of your journey. You bless me with your testimony.

  • Daryll Bryant

    Kevin, awesome! I too am torn, Almost all of my entrepreneur endeavors have been service oriented. Just started a custom men’s wear business in the Springs and lately I have been delving into info and web based income, simply because of the mobility that it offers! May get to hear you speak at the Chamber!

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Almost all of mine have been services too. But real services, as opposed to purely ‘information’ are still a more tangible deal. ‘Men’s wear business’, sounds interesting! i’d be honored if you were at the chamber event.

  • Jason Garey

    I really appreciate what you said, Kevin. For me, you, your dad and the FAA and 48Days community have been instrumental in raising my hope meter in a real way. I’m one of ones you talked about taking a long time to be really ready. Last summer, in the face of some major life challenges, I reached the point where I started doing instead of just the ol “lurk and learn”. I moved forward on things that may not have been the best move at the time, but I’m glad I did because sitting idle just wasn’t an option. Christ is the ultimate example of combining the intangible with the tangible. His power came from an invisible source, but He was hands-on to the end. He sold hope but backed up with acts of love that made the religious class queasy. Grit, grime, blood and guts is what resonates with us. Authenticity. When I came to your retreat at the beginning of ’12. Walking and talking with you en route to the frozen lake was meaningful to me. Sitting with Gary, Chuck, Deby and Jonathan for an hour was life changing. Breaking bread with fellow seekers, was priceless. Others asked me if I came away with great insights and answers for my business. I surprised them when I said “no..better”. I came away with what I needed for my life. Gary and Chuck set me straight, and I’ll be forever grateful. The $100/month for a few months was an inexpensive investment in me, especially knowing that you truly, truly care. God bless you, brother!

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Wow Jason. This just blesses me. Thank you. You seem to have pressed in further than most are willing. I’m sure you have, and will continue to see, rich fruit. Not ease, but richness. Thanks again brother.

  • http://www.suttonparks.com/ Sutton Parks

    Excellent observation! I haven’t been able to put into words what you have. I just had a ‘feeling’ that I’ve seen too many ‘how to make money on the internet by teaching people how to make money on the internet’ type blogs and products.

    I understand a service businesses and a product business.

    And great point about everybody reading the same books and listening to the same podcasts. Many just say the same thing. I like the guy no one’s heard of. He/she will say something different and new.

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      This means a lot coming from you, Sutton. I keep up with you on Instagram, thanks for sharing your inspiration.

  • Ian Bone

    A very apt post Kevin considering the growing numbers of “experts” out there selling the dream of fame and fortune through on-line courses,programs, activities and the like. For some, this will resonate and result in some very positive outcomes but for most its unlikely to make much impact.
    I’m in the yachting business and this is no different in many respects….. your not selling a yacht, your selling a dream or a vision of a lifestyle. Everyone seeks the experiences and benefits but not everyone is prepared to do what it takes to make it happen. How many yachts do we see unused or never leaving the dock.
    Also reminds me very much of the olden day “snake oil” salesmen offering hope and comfort with hard talking and creative selling techniques…..Hmmmmmm… that reminds me of some of the stuff we see on line today. :)

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      True words here Ian. Thank you. You’re in the yacht business? Man, that’s significantly interesting. What a curious world that must be. I want to ride on one…someday.

  • Kathy Brunner

    Kevin, I heartily agree that many people are not only selling “hope” but very convincing in explaining why you need to buy “it”. I have come complete circle in my own business recognizing that if I crowded the already stuffed masses with more info, more suggestions, more advice and even more support, I was just adding to the already overwhelmed amount of “stuff” coming at them. I choose to work with individuals who truly want to take a product or service to the next level and simply need some systems and structure to do so. I want a commitment from them and if they are going to pay me to teach them something, I don’t want to deliver a dog and pony show, but I also don’t want them to just want to watch one! If I don’t see some movement on what they are paying me to help them do, I let them know I might not be the right fit for them. I have been a business owner for decades and one thing I realize is that while people do need support, suggestions, advice and hope, ACTION trumps all of that. Brick and Mortar mom and pops were action. On line deliver of info can be action as well, but only if paired with strong relationships and accountability for taking action from that delivery.
    Really enjoyed your thoughts.

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Great testimony from you, Kathy. I think you hit it in regards to, wantrepreneurs generally want hope, those in biz want actionable steps.

  • Joshua Schukman

    Excellent stuff Kevin. Though, I will challenge you on your concern that folks were spending $90 per month with you, and not getting any momentum. While I believe it is critically important that we infopreneurs provide information and content that leads to actionable items that produce RESULTS, I think folks often pursue some of the content that is out there simply for personal fulfillment or enjoyment, and this is okay too – certainly a better use of time than the latest cable program…

    I don’t say this to discount the tremendous responsibility of infopreneurs to provide valuable content, and be honest about its potential uses – but I also think that there will always be folks who, deep down, engage the information and counsel for personal fulfillment, and while their use of that info may not fit what we had hoped for them, it is nonetheless information that they value tremendously.

    I engaged a life coach several years ago, and I can tell you the path I followed was different from the one he helped me lay out – so he may say I didn’t take action with it, but I still look back on that time with fondness, and as something that contributed to me in both tangible and intangible ways.

    Having said everything I’ve just said – I think this post is incredibly valuable for us at many levels – least of all as a kick to the pants about opening our eyes to the local opportunities that are right in our backyard, and often are the most productive and fulfilling.

    Thanks Kevin – for your continual insight and support.

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Great points Josh, thanks brother. Of course you are the type of client that makes me feel worthy…as you’re Mr. Take Action Man. Honored to be a part of what you’re doing with http://www.socialchangenation.com

  • Synergy for Ministry

    Kevin–I like what you’re saying here–I’m trying to be an infopreneur in what I deem to be a difficult market. However, I think that the “hope” factor is something that not only I need to hone in on but also as a goal–to provide hope to those ministers/church musicians that I’m trying to help

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      Hope is necessary, for sure. Immensely valuable…and at the core of all good things, eh?!

  • http://highpointpersonalconsulting.com Steve Herron

    Kevin, I have to admit I am guilty of “subscribing to hope” and then not scheduling the time to dial in to the product offered. The problem, albeit a good one, is that there is SO much great content available that I don’t want to miss out or that I will not be able to speak knowledgeably about an author or their content. But it does take the extra discipline to schedule the time to implement the new information you have learned. Thanks for the great reminder and also, the great afternoon at “The First Law of Profit”. More great content but even better was the incredible conversations that followed during and after the meal. Thanks!

    • http://www.freeagentacademy.com Kevin Miller

      I think we’re all guilty of it at times! Was an honor to be with you Steve, thanks so much for coming