This is the first installment of a five-part article.
The computer revolution, and especially the Internet revolution, has created business opportunities for thousands of everyday citizens. To create and sell goods or information, it is no longer necessary to have a "bricks and mortar" store. Likewise, to launch a mail order business, it is no longer necessary to have a fleet of trucks. In fact, you do not even need to maintain specific office hours when your business is open to the public. All you need is a personal computer and a presence in cyberspace. Your business will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even if you happen to be sleeping at the moment.
Many individuals have started part-time, "sideline" businesses on the Internet. The goods and services sold online run the gamut from artwork to zippers. Many of these sideline businesses have become profitable, and more than a few have grown to become full-time occupations. In fact, there are numerous stories around about online entrepreneurs who converted an idea into an online business and now earn six or seven-figure incomes.
I doubt if anyone will earn such riches by packaging and selling genealogy information. However, modest profits certainly are attainable. You can also earn satisfaction from helping other genealogists. While a number of people are selling genealogy information today, it looks to me like the marketplace is not crowded. There's room for many more people to get into this "business." You do not need to be a large corporation to help others and earn a few dollars yourself. In fact, I see many ads for genealogy information being sold by one-person operations.
Genealogists are hungry for information. Genealogy information is often available in old printed books and records, printed works that are not covered by copyright laws. The problem is that identifying and locating these records can be very difficult. Genealogists often want information about a particular ancestor but don't know what books exist that might list the ancestor's name. Many genealogists are willing to pay reasonable fees to obtain these books and other publications.
Another method of creating sales is to create and publish your own material. Perhaps your local genealogy society would like to transcribe old records and then publish them. This can be expensive if you publish on paper. However, "e-publishing" is quite affordable with very little "up front" publishing expense.
For years, many vendors have republished old books, tax lists, and other records of genealogical interest. However, these mostly small-time vendors often had difficulty finding buyers. Advertising expenses are significant for those who expect to sell limited numbers of republished books. The books typically sell for $20 (for small booklets) to $150 or more (for large volumes). That is a lot of money for someone who simply wants to see if one person or one family might be listed.
Buyers cannot find vendors easily, and the vendors have similar difficulties finding would-be buyers. Do you see a common theme here? This is a perfect opportunity for the Internet!
Whenever there is a need, you can expect that some entrepreneurial businessperson will find a means to meet this need. Indeed, there may be a number of people who go into business to fulfill the needs of others. This has been the case with genealogy information.
The first installment of this article covers the republishing of entire books, pamphlets, public records, and other original published information. Sales of extracted information will be discussed in a later installment.
The remainder of this article is for Plus Edition subscribers only. All five installments of this article may be purchased from the archives at http://www.lulu.com/content/1015864.