How to Make Money Out of Thin Air
That sounds like a pretty bold and impossible statement, doesn’t it? Let me qualify it by saying I still haven’t figured out how to sit on the sofa merely wishing for money and have it appear. However, I will describe the next best thing: How you can make money in this lousy economy in 2011 when you have no money to invest or any great education. This method even works if you’ve never been in the work force. All you need is what’s between your ears and also the will to invest a handful of hours.
Three kinds of people regularly visit the Internet: First there are the “surfers” who are bored and want a break. They also might want to be entertained. Next are the “connectors” who want to be part of an online community like Twitter or whatever.
Finally there are “seekers”. These people are looking for solutions. Seekers can make you lots of money if you have just the information they’re looking for. They’ll pay you for highly specific answers but not for general, wishy-washy advice.
Let’s look at how people use search engines like Google. If I type in “kidney” then I’m just surfing. I might be looking for pictures of kidneys for a school project, or I want a kidney-shaped swimming pool. If I type in “kidney stones” I’m getting more specific. Still, I might be just doing research for a report. But if I type “traditional kidney stone remedies” now I’m a seeker! I’m probably in pain and want a solution other than the drugs or surgery my local doc wants to dispense.
If you put together a small, 10-page typewritten report on home remedies for kidney stones, you can bet I’ll seriously consider buying it for, say, $10 or $20, especially if you offer a money-back guarantee. It’s an easy, no-resistance sale because you are delivering targeted information I need at low cost.
Please note that if I’m in pain with kidney stones I do not want some general guide to “Home Remedies for 101 Ailments”. I’ll gladly pay but only for precise advice.
So what sort of information will people buy? Here are five high-payoff categories:
1. What have you researched and discovered? This is the kidney-stone example above, or it could be about getting stains out of angora wool. You don’t need to be a “professional” to write it. You also don’t need to guarantee results; all you’re doing is selling the fruits of your research, nicely organized into a few pages.
2. What can you demonstrate? I’ve made a lot of money by creating user-friendly guides to complicated machines and you could do the same. For instance if you’ve become expert at the features of a particular sewing machine, snowmobile, or even on how to play songs using your telephone keypad, you can sell that information.
3. What problem have you solved? This is a cousin of the question above. Maybe someone already knows how to assemble and use a product but gets frustrated at advanced features. Maybe the product needs regular maintenance and the factory gives scant advice on how to do it. People will pay for solutions to highly specific problems. Do an inventory on paper regarding all the things you use regularly: power tools, appliances, sports equipment, cars, electronics, etc. Now think what has caused you great frustration in the past, and what you eventually found a solution to. Assuming you don’t own the only one on the planet, I can assure you that others are having the same trouble and will pay for a succinct solution.
4. What are the best resources you’ve found? It’s true that search engines are good starting places when you’re on the hunt for the best of something. But people have an insatiable appetite for “the best of” things. Don’t you light up when you see stories like “The Top 10” of something you’re really interested in? People will pay for shortcuts and you can put together a simple report which delivers exactly that. If it saves time, it’s worth money.
5. How do things fit together? This is similar to the question of what can you demonstrate, but broader. If you’re into home-brewing beer, you may have assembled the right equipment through long trial and error. Maybe you homeschool your kids and have hit upon some great ways to homeschool while also taking advantage of public-school resources like sports. Other parents are going through the same process across the country and would love to pay a few dollars for your experience.
With any of the questions above, all you need to do is put together a simple report of 7-15 pages. It could be all text or it might include pictures. If you know how to do it, you could include audio or video that further describes your solutions. Forget about being “slick”—people will gladly pay you for simply being helpful.
Also forget about trying to be all things to all people. Don’t come out with “The Complete Homeschool Resource Book” just yet. First produce a simple report like “10 Common Questions Schools Will Ask Before Approving Your Homeschool Application, And How To Answer Them.”
Once you have your report, post it on eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist.
The key thing is to Think Small. That’s right, in this age of people telling you to “Think BIG!” I’m saying that small is beautiful. You’ll invest a very small amount of time to write the report. Because you’ll spend so little time and basically no money on it, your risk couldn’t be smaller.
Remember to think narrow but deep: If your report is highly specific to one audience, they’ll buy with little hesitation because you’re speaking to their exact needs.
Once you get a small income stream going from one report, then think use the Shampoo Method—in other words, “lather, rinse, and repeat.” When you create a bunch of these reports you’ll be looking at a nice, regular income stream that all began with what’s in your head.
You can be making money one week from now. It’s a wonderful feeling to create a simple report and be paid again and again for it. Try it once and you’ll not only be wealthier—you’ll be hooked.