I am constantly besieged by nice, well-meaning folk who desperately desire to be writers, consultants, coaches, speakers, and information marketers.

Many of these people actually have a talent for writing, consulting, coaching, speaking, and authoring information products. Yet most will not succeed, because…

They have nothing to teach, write, or speak about.

You see this all the time…

  • Marketing consultants who have never held a corporate marketing job or worked at an ad agency or created a single winning marketing campaign.
  • Sales trainers who were mediocre salespeople.
  • Business opportunity marketers who have never actually been in the businesses they write and talk about
  • Financial newsletter editors who haven’t made a dime in the market in years.
  • Internet marketers who sell e-books ghost-written by freelancers who researched the topic online.

To succeed as a writer, speaker, consultant, coach, and especially as an Internet info marketer, you need just two things: (a) the ability to write, speak, consult, or coach, and (b) something to write, speak, consult, or coach about.

To be fair, you also need to know how to (c) market, promote, and sell yourself.

Lots of people have (a) and (c) can be learned. But too many lack (b) — a subject to write about.

SP, author of books and newsletters on gold investing, once told me: If you can gain specialized knowledge, you will never go broke.

The best way to gain this knowledge is as a participant in or practitioner of your chosen skill or specialized field. (Before SP started to write about gold, he had spent three decades as a mining consultant.)

Some wannabe gurus decide they will master a field by reading about it and studying it, and neglect to actually participate in it.

That’s a mistake.

Book learning is important, but there are limits to how far it can take you. And it is no substitute for real-world experience.

Years ago, I signed up for an adult education course in mail-order. At the time, I had a small mail-order business, and I had been in direct-marketing for decades. But I am always reading and taking classes to pick up extra knowledge.

When the class started, it was obvious that the instructor — a business teacher at a local community college — was simply reading from a textbook. She had absolutely zero experience in and knowledge of mail-order.

The class bombarded her with questions that she could not answer. Since I had identified myself when the teacher took attendance, I was trapped into answering them and pretty much teaching the class. Not what I wanted.

I once read an article by Mike Aun in which he talked about the fact that in addition to being a professional speaker he ran a successful insurance agency. He asserted that no one should be a full-time professional speaker. Having a real business gave him the knowledge and content he needed to deliver in his talks.

I agree with Aun. When I give seminars on copywriting, I am frequently asked if I still write copy. I am proud to reply that I am an active participant in every area that I teach (copywriting, Internet marketing, book publishing, and freelance writing).

I don’t see how I could do otherwise. Active participation keeps your skills sharp and your knowledge level current.

It also gives you a living laboratory in which to test out your ideas to make sure your advice works in the real world. And it establishes your credibility with your audience or reader.

I once heard a speaker tell a group of aspiring speakers to read books on their topics for an hour a day, every day, for a full year.

“If you do, you will be an expert on your topic and qualified to teach it to others,” he said.

To which I say: No, you won’t.

You will have theoretical knowledge of your topic. But you will lack the confidence and depth of knowledge that you get from actual experience.

Another danger of learning by reading instead of doing is that you may give the wrong advice. If you have no real-world experience and haven’t tried the methods you teach, you have no way of knowing whether or not they work.

Writing, speaking, and consulting about a topic you know thoroughly is also easier — and a lot more fun — than trying to fake your way through it. When you’re a true expert, your reports, e-books, and other information products seem to fly out of your PC with lightning speed, and always ring true to your customers. In addition, your customers will recognize and praise your genuine expertise, giving a big boost to your self-esteem.

Plus, being a true expert puts you light-years ahead of your competitors, who know the topic only through second-hand research or minimal real-world experience. Therefore, you enjoy a significant competitive edge — both in the quality of your products and services and the effectiveness of your marketing.

In my home-study program The Internet Cash Generator, you learn step by step how to create high-quality information products.

And it all starts with knowing your topic inside and out.

[Ed. Note: Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of more than 70 books. To subscribe to his free e-zine, The Direct Response Letter, and claim your free gift worth $116, click here now: www.bly.com/reports.]

Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.