by Paul McDowell
Mail Order operators who specialize in selling bits of education are in a socially desirable enterprise, and a well managed one can produce very profitable and satisfying results.
Selling instruction and information by mail embraces a large field. At one extreme is the correspondence school which aims to bring a university campus to the door, and at the other extreme is the small operator who for $2.00 or $3.00 will send information about something you like to know or will reveal a "secret" or formula of some kind. In between these two extremes are many possibilities. Those individuals who are conscious of mail-buying opportunities, and who seek training at home and in space time will discover many pieces of useful information to be had at small cost. Mail-order operators who specialize in selling bits of education are in a socially desirable enterprise, and a well managed one can produce very profitable and satisfying results.
Little wonder then that for the small operator, selling of "information" is attractive. One authority states: "At least 80 percent of all the beginners start their career in mail order by offering a plan, formula, or information publication. Of these, at least 75 percent lose money in their first venture. Some quit then and there because their visions of fast, easy money are shattered. Others realize their mistakes, profit by their experience and go on to a successful, profitable mail order business.
SELL YOUR SPECIALTY
If you have imagination and vision, mail order enterprise provides a chance to sell your knowledge. Many people possess information for which others would willingly pay a fair price. If you have a special field in which you have reason to believe others would be interested, write up an instruction sheet or folio about it.
This often pays. Even if you do not have the essential background information, by self-training you can become somewhat of an expert. Exhaust the literature on a subject in public libraries and elsewhere, write up the material in the most attractive form, get it out as a leaflet or treatise, and market it by mail. The right kind of manuscript very often makes money if followed through. Do you know something or can you make something a little better than most people? Write it up. For simple instruction booklets of all kinds, written for the layman, there is usually a ready market. There is a demand for reliable information, and this is particularly true for "know- how" courses in brief portfolio form. And this can be a repeat order proposition, for the buyer of one folio is often a prospect for similar courses or booklets.
HOW TO GET STARTED
An excellent way to get started in selling information is to push what you yourself have written. By having several hundred or several thousand copies made, you can, at a small cost, try out the plan. With the right mail selling methods, you may profit, just as many are doing. In this field the buyer usually gets good value in obtaining something which required days, weeks, or even months to prepare, and there is a long gross profit on each sale. Treatises which sell for 5 to 12 dollars and sometimes higher usually cost approximately 25 cents to one dollar to print.
There are many spare-time operators making money year after year in "how -to " courses. The classified columns and display advertising sections of the craft magazines are replete with such offerings.
TYPICAL AVENUES OF APPROACH
Of the hundreds of reliable self-help topics being offered by mail, the following are illustrative.
1. FORMULAS alone are difficult to sell. Value lies not entirely in the formula, recipe, kink, or knack of getting some results, but also in the plan and the person pushing that process or formula. Well presented with instructions for using, formulas single or in group sets in treatise form are being successfully sold by mail. Many of them can be built around simple household preparations. In selling a plan, a formula, and the like, work out a set-up of your own and merchandise it in a way to build a satisfied clientele.
2. HELP TO THE HANDYMAN strikes a chord for those who are interested in making money or saving it. Since handymen are made and not just born with particular skills, those who like to tinker and find out how to do things for themselves are usually on the lookout for down-to-the-earth useful information. If you are a handyman, what have you learned "the hard way?" do you know something for which others might be glad to pay a reasonable price? For example, anyone familiar with work in various trades, radio, electrical, carpenter, painting, and miscellaneous mechanical jobs - has a fund of information which might well be worked up into an inexpensive photo-offset printed treatise or series of them, including drawings and diagrams. Some mail- order operators have done this to advantage.
3. WRITING FOR PROFIT has an appeal. Although the field has been well worked in the high-class high-cost strata, there is still room for inexpensive sets of writing instruction and advisory service. A large proportion of the adult population has the urge to write. These would-be authors range all the way from those merely seeking the "pride of authorship," to those who have the desire of some day spending full time in writing, and earning a living at it. And many of these people are already successful in some line of work. They are eager for assistance in writing. Helpful guidance such as can be offered in folios could find a ready market.
4. APPLICATION OF CHEMISTRY offers a wide choice for those who are qualified in one or more branches of this science. Any one who has specialized in any phase of chemistry might well be able to contribute acceptable leaflets and booklets on the subject, which could be of value to others. Think of the possibilities in acquainting people with the myriad uses of common chemical substances, for example, in the field of cements and glues, caulking compounds, liquid coating solutions, and solvents. Not only is there opportunity in selling information in this field, but also in merchandising useful preparations of your own.
5. HOBBIES range all the way from playthings to highly technical pastimes. Many people have hobbies which follow definite patterns. Have you a hobby, as stamp collecting, for example? Mail-order affords a profitable avenue to pass these pleasures on to others, and often persons who have hobbies do not hesitate to pay well for additional knowledge. Hobbies can become part-time income sources, and finally full-time occupations.
6. HEALTH AND EXERCISE is a subject in which a large percentage of the population is interested. A person well qualified to write about physical training, camping, swimming, or fishing, for example, is in a good position to sell his knowledge by mail. But warning is necessary regarding health information or goods: Be sure that the propositions applies to prevention and not curative effects. Another caution is to beware of making false claims, for the health field can be dangerous ground.
7. OTHER SUBJECTS in the information-selling field abound, such as making money in a particular line of work, increasing knowledge for pleasure or profit, how to gain prestige by being able to speak in public, how to play a musical instrument, how to learn speed typing and shorthand at home, and so on.
Information, instruction, or education by mail can be started with a minimum capital, with little mailing costs. Further, it is an easy way to get started, and is one of the most profitable areas of mail order selling. A manual costing 30 or 50 cents in quantity to publish often sells for 10 dollars. The buyer is not purchasing just so much paper and printing, but presumably years of a writer's skill and experience.
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