There’s an old saying: “If you want to get rich quick, write a get rich quick book.”
When I was 14, I sold my old N64 games on eBay. I sold 3 or 4 games for about $8 or $10 each.
It was small money but the rush you get when someone buys your thing is incredible. I wanted more. I wanted enough to buy a flat screen TV.
I was obsessed with flat screen TVs but they were so expensive. I would search on eBay for cheap TVs but even those were out of my price range.
But as I searched, I found these listings. Cheap listings for like $10, $20, $50. A flat screen TV for $20? How is that possible? I diligently read each listing and found the catch.
They weren’t selling cheap TVs. They were selling a list of websites where you could buy cheap TVs. It was kind of a trick. If you weren’t paying attention you thought you were getting a TVfor $50 when all you were getting was a 1 page Word doc.
That’s when I hatched my genius 14-year-old plan. I’ll buy one of these lists. And I’ll re-sell it on eBay. Pure profit! Maybe I’ll make enough money to buy that TV I wanted so bad.
I made one sale for $50! I was over the moon. “This is gonna work! I’ll have that TV in no time, and maybe I can get a Xbox too!
But then I got an email. It was the wife of the man who bought my list. She wanted a refund. He thought he was buying a real TV for $50 but then realized he got tricked. They probably had a fight about it.
I could have said “no refunds. A sale is a sale”. But I felt terrible. I refunded their money and gave up on my dreams of owning a flat screen TV. Making a sale feels great! Deceiving another human being? Not so much.
Fast forward 18 years and I'm an Indie Hacker. I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to make a SaaS and get all the signups and followers and MRRs I can dream of!
But I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m a software engineer and marketing is a dirty word in my book. Even when I try to do marketing™ it doesn’t work. No one buys. No one wants my product.
But then. Hope! Glorious hope! Here’s this guy or gal on Indie Hackers selling an e-book, a course, a webinar, a notion dashboard. “Learn how to do marketing”. “Learn how to build your audience”. “Learn how to make that first sale!”
I’m saved! All I have to do is buy these info products, learn the secrets that they contain and I’ll be a millionaire in no time! Right? Wrong!
It doesn’t work, people still aren’t buying my SaaS. What am I doing wrong? Maybe I need a new approach.
But wait! Building this SaaS sucks. I just want to make money. To be an entrepreneur, whatever it takes. And you know who’s making money? The info product people! They even tell you how much money they’re making. Whether it’s a “I made $10k from selling my course” post or a screenshot of a gumroad dashboard, it’s clear that there’s money to be made with info products. 🤔
In fact, this is a perfect fit for me. I’m passionate about entrepreneurship, I’ve been an entrepreneur for some time and I’ve learned a lot. I’m basically an expert. So, it’s about time I share my learnings with others. I can help them avoid the same mistakes I made.
Welcome to the info product trap. A place where conventional business wisdom that’s been around for decades is repackaged, recycled and resold to the next unwitting entrepreneur.
And it kind of makes sense. You pivoted from having a half-baked idea with a poorly defined target customer to having an idea you know sells with a well defined target customer that you can a) easily reach and b) you know intimately (because you too are an indie hacker).
But we can’t all do this. If all indie hackers are just selling info products to other indie hackers, there needs to be an influx of naive starry-eyed entrepreneurs entering the
market community to keep the game going.
If you want to create a sustainable business it has to appeal to people outside of entrepreneurial circles. Maybe not initially. It can be a good idea to start with a niche customer base. But, if you want your business to last long term, you need to be thinking about how your product/service can evolve to reach new markets.
Anyway, that’s my spiel. And of course I too have something to sell. It’s Not an info product.
I made a SaaS. A powerful distraction free tweet thread composer / scheduler. It's called TweetSpacer and I’m doing $20 lifetime subscriptions for the first 20 customers. 12 spots are left. You can check it out at https://www.tweetspacer.com