“If you start me up, / If you start me up I’ll never stop.”Mick Jagger

Running your own Internet business is an excellent way to create a steady side income that can eventually grow into a multimillion-dollar juggernaut. But finding the right product to sell in order to generate a profit – especially when you’re competing with established brands – can be difficult when you’re starting from scratch.

When you think of making money via the Internet, you may instantly think of people who sell tangible goods that they get in their customers’ hands through snail mail or of consultants who offer their services online. Sure, those are great ways to make money. But if you think they are the only ways, you may be overlooking a great opportunity: the insatiable demand for information.

Information is one of the most competitive markets online. It sells well because it provides a quick fix or shortcut solution to a problem or concern the consumer is having.

You can package information as digital downloads, including e-books, membership sites, newsletters, DVDs, CDs, and audio and video streaming files. And you can sell one format or a combination, such as an e-book with a video bonus series and a membership for buyers.

7 Reasons to Love Selling Digital Information Products

Here’s why information products are becoming increasingly popular with Internet marketers:

1. They offer you a way to start selling with little to no overhead costs.

You can write your own e-book, compile it for free into a PDF download, and the only expense you’ll have is the hosting fee to launch it on a page where people can order it.

That’s info-product launching on a shoestring budget. And it’s even better if you have at least a little capital to invest so you can properly launch your e-book with a great Web design, in a marketplace like ClickBank, and with an affiliate toolbox that you create with graphics and content that your affiliates could use to sell your information for you.

2. You can quickly bring a digital info product to the marketplace and start profiting.

Tangible goods, on the other hand, have to be manufactured – which means it takes a lot longer to take them from idea to fruition.

3. The process of filling orders is automated.

There’s nothing to pack up and take to the post office. The moment your customers place an order, they’re immediately taken to a page where they can download the product. You truly get to take in “passive profits” once the system has been set up.

4. You can get affiliates to market your info product for you.

That way, you don’t have to spend as much on advertising as you would if you were dealing in tangible goods.

(By the way – as long as we’re on the subject – you can become an affiliate yourself and make plenty of money by selling other people’s info products. You can promote those products at absolutely no charge by placing content on various social networking sites and inserting your affiliate ID codes. Or you can take it one step further and create your own presence on the Web, capturing customers’ contact information for your own list before funneling them into someone else’s site.)

5. Your profits are considerably higher with an information product, too.

Let’s say you write a hard-copy book that sells at a bookstore for $20. After the publisher, distributor, and retailer take their cuts, you’d wind up with a pittance. But that same book, converted into digital form and sold by you on a website, can bring in, maybe, $67. And aside from a nominal fee charged by the hosting service you use, the profits are delivered straight to you.

Even if an affiliate sells your e-book and keeps 50 percent, your profits are still higher than they would be for a published author whose book is sitting on the shelves of a major book chain.

6. There is nothing for you to stock.

The only space your info product takes up is space on your computer.

7. Your info product sells 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Your website doesn’t close up like brick-and-mortar stores do.

What Kind of Information Should You Sell?

Regardless of the format you choose for your first info product – e-book, newsletter, DVD, etc. – make sure you choose a topic for it that you’re excited about promoting.

You may find, for example, that a lot of people are looking for information about witchcraft – but is that something you care much about? Is that a subject you could immerse yourself in for months and years to come as you build a business – and, ultimately, an empire – around it?

Just as important as choosing a topic you’re passionate about, of course, is making sure it lends itself to information people actually want to buy.

To do that, check out the ClickBank marketplace, (clickbank.com/marketplace.htm) which houses over 10,000 digital items for sale. Sort your searches by category to identify the most popular subjects – then narrow them down to one you’d be interested in selling. (You can also sort ClickBank’s results by other criteria that can be helpful, including the number of affiliates that made money on a particular product in the last 30 days.)

Once you’ve identified the perfect topic for your first info product – one that not only excites you but also has a built-in market – you’re well on your way to becoming a successful Internet entrepreneur.

[Ed. Note: Ready to step up to the plate and start your own Internet business? If so, online marketing expert Paul Smithson and ETR’s team of friendly experts are standing by to help you. We’ve partnered with Paul, creator of the XSitePro website-building program, so you’ll be able to come to ETR’s 5 Days in July conference with nothing – no product, no marketing skills, no technical know-how – and walk out 5 days later with your own online business. No experience required, and it only takes a few minutes to get started!]

Paul Smithson

Paul Smithson is the founder of Intellimon and the driving force behind the best-selling XSitePro web site development tool, and the soon to be released XHeaderPro. Since graduating in Business Strategy and Direct Marketing from two of Europe’s leading business schools, Paul has set up five multi-million dollar companies, one of which is now owned by the BBC. His areas of expertise include business strategy, e-commerce, on-line and off-line marketing, software development, and maximizing the potential of on-line businesses.