Definitely the most common mistake of anyone beginning their business selling information products – and the reason that only ten per cent of the internet businesses which are started go on to succeed and that ninety per cent of internet companies fold within the first year– is that people make one single big mistake:

They mistake marketing a product for meeting a need in their potential clients.

Think about it – if you don’t need something and you don’t want it – you won’t buy it, no matter how wonderful the person selling it thinks it is. That’s the same for your potential customers.

Like Goldilocks in the three bears’ cottage, most customers are looking for the information product that is "just right" for them. If you are going to make a success of selling information products, your challenge is to get to know your niche market well and find out just what it is that makes information product ‘just right’ for them.

Determine your market

When you are planning to start selling information products, you need to ask yourself these few very important questions:

1. Who – if anyone – really needs the information product that you are proposing to sell?

2. How many of those potential customers are there?

3. How much, if anything, are they spending at the moment to address that need?

4. Does your own information product meet that need of your niche market in a way which is better or cheaper than what is already available?

Asking yourself these questions should tell you from the outset of planning your potential information product business whether you have the right product to market – or whether you need to fine-tune it or even to ditch it. Believe me - being brutally honest with yourself at this stage will save you an awful lot of time, energy and heart-ache later – perhaps it will save you money too.

Know your customers from cold

Those people who are most successful at selling information products go out to the potential niche market they’ve identified and finds out – from cold – what the needs of these potential niche market clients are. You can join online forums to do this quite easily. Many – in fact most – of these online forums are not general entry and discussion; they are much more specific than that and so they are much more useful for your market research – because they are aimed at specific niche markets so your potential customers are pretty easy to find.

Don’t go to these potential customers straight off trying to sell them a particular information product which you have in mind; unless you are already a part of that niche market yourself, you may have completely the wrong idea about what their niche markets needs are. You really need to listen to these people first, so that you can really learn from them and benefit your information producr business by securing your market – giving them a product or service which they either need or which they really want and are prepared to pay for – at a price which you can afford to provide it to them.

Good market research doesn't have to be expensive

Many people (think of the ninety per cent who see their internet businesses fail within a year here) are put off from doing their own market research because they think it is going to be difficult and expensive. It really does not have to be either of those things. It just takes a little time – which you should really consider a useful investment in the long term future and success of your online business.

All you need in order to carry out your own market research is a little determination and the willingness to accept sometimes harsh criticism and to learn from it.

Don’t be tempted to rely on secondary research

The short cut to doing market research is to read up on other people’s research and base your online business on THEIR findings. Don’t. It’s a short cut to nowhere. To find out if there is a market for your information products, do your own market research.

Affiliate marketing is a very popular way to make money on the internet these days. This method also works very well if you want to make money through selling information products. You can work it both ways – either you can write or acquire information products and find affiliate partners to market it for you, or you can search for information products that you want to promote and for which you can earn a percentage of sales that you bring in.

Either way, you would be well advised to be picky about what products you become aligned to. Try to stick to a niche which you know something about and try to get yourself known as an expert in that area, to maximize your reputation in this area and thus maximize your sales.

Look for websites in your niche area which have a lot of traffic. Preferably look for websites that rank on the coveted first page of major search engine listings like Google,Yahoo and MSN.

These companies already have all the traffic you could want. If you contact them in the right way, they should be happy to let you access them for ‘free’; that is, no payment ‘up front’ Of course, you will have to agree to pay them a percentage of profits from your sales if they place ads for your information products on their pages. Usual profits to hand over are fifty per cent from downloadable goods like information products; that might sound a lot, but think about it – you don’t have to buy or make your own information products, necessarily; you don’t have to package them up; they’re almost pure profit.

So how do you find these people who are willing to embark on such joint ventures with you?

There are several ways to find them, but why mess with the other ways when you’re about to learn the two best ways?

First, simply search Google for the keyword that is the main topic of your information product. Then you visit a few of the top ranked sites. Have a good look around. You do this for two reasons:

To ensure you like the look and feel of the website and you are comfortable that it is a website that you would feel happy to have your product associated with or that you want to be an affiliate for.

You want to reassure your potential joint venture partner that you know something about their business if you are going to be an affiliate for their information product – enough to be able to comment upon specific things that you like about it. You don’t want to sound like some desperate spammer who is happy to be associated with just anyone. You want to make them feel special – like you want to be known alongside THEM in particular.

You can visit Alexa.com to find the highest ranked sites. This website ranks all other websites from one to well, millions! (‘One’ being the site with the most traffic.) Set yourself a realistic target and search for potential affiliate partners amongst the top two hundred thousand sites; that should give you enough high traffic sites within your niche area to find some really useful affiliate partners.

Alexa.com will also show you the through traffic – what sites these sites link to and where their visitors go after leaving them. That will also show you other websites of interest to your potential customers. See? They practically do your preparation for you to embark upon joint ventures for your information product business. Bear in mind that these are also your potential competitors, so be careful not to do a straight copy of them. Remember your unique selling point – and play nicely with the other online businesses with whom you want to be affiliated, either way; you’ll be a lot more successful if you don’t look like you’re trying to steal their customers away!