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Why You Will *NOT* Make Money from Public Domain Content!

You may have noticed lately that I haven’t been talking about Public Domain content as much now as I have in the past. So what happened? Have I given up on the Public Domain? Have I milked it for all its worth and now am onto bigger things? Have I gone underground and am keeping all the new tricks to myself? Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that I have (temporarily) shifted away some from teaching about Public Domain content because of YOU!

You see, I discovered a growing trend with many of my subscribers that really concerned me. They would hear me talk about the Public Domain and share what’s possible with the content and get excited. They would invest in my Public Domain courses, find TONS of great Public Domain content, but then, something happened. It is this “something” that concerned me, and it is the PRIMARY reason why you will NOT make money from Public Domain content!

I found that many of my customers…perhaps even you…didn’t DO anything with the Public Domain content they found. It just sat there on their hard drive taking up space. Tons of ebooks, images, magazines and more…all with great potential, all doing nothing to make them money.

I wondered, “What about the blog posts and articles you were going to write using PD content? What about all the product ideas you had using PD content as the source? What about the books, e-books, videos, audios, posters, membership sites and all the other wonderful products you can create using Public Domain content? Quite honestly, I was puzzled. I wondered why so many would take those important first steps of action, but then stop. A little investigating revealed the answer. And this discovery is what shifted my business.

What I discovered was that few people actually knew and understood what their next steps should be. They found great content, and in some cases, even created products, but didn’t know how to get those products online. They weren’t sure how to build the websites and set up the download pages. They didn’t understand how to get traffic to their site (if they had one) and, in many cases, the idea of using social media was confusing at best. It seemed that even knowing the right tools and software for creating those products was elusive.

Can you relate? Is this where YOU are in your own business? I think you will agree that it would be irresponsible of me (or anyone else) to ignore the problems you might be struggling with. And so, because of these revelations, I’m changing how I approach my product creation, my interaction with my subscribers and customers and with YOU! No, I haven’t given up on the Public Domain. As a matter of fact, it is playing a key role in some of the new projects I’m working on right now! The task right now, however, is to see YOU succeed even MORE with Public Domain content!

So I’m curious…what roadblocks are YOU facing with taking the next step? What is the ONE THING you believe would make all the difference in the world in helping you become successful (or more successful) online? Please post your thoughts and comments below. And if you would, please also share this with your friends and subscribers through the Twitter, Facebook and Digg links. Thanks!

40 Responses to “Why You Will *NOT* Make Money from Public Domain Content!”

  • Tony,

    You definitely hit the nail on the head with this blog post. It’s so true, ideas are one thing. Once you are the “creative mode” ideas can really flow. But, turning those ideas into tangible products & getting through the technical challenges of putting the product up Online in a website, blog, pdf, digital download – or whatever, is another level of challenges. So many coaching programs don’t through the steps of what you need to do. I’m very grateful that you have taken the time to show us how. Keep doing what your’re doing!

  • Traffic. Content is not my problem. Traffic is my problem. And there is so much noise in the market place about the best way to get traffic. It is overwhelming. I just don’t know where to start.

    Backlink building to rank? Twitter? Facebook? Article marketing?
    Some automated tool for social bookmarking a thousand places.

    It’s a nightmare.

  • bob manning:

    Right on ,most of us don’t understand even the most basic steps. Please help fron the start

  • I have spent the last year ‘learning’. I will launching my first website mid October. PD is one of the most exciting products I have read about and would like to learn where I find the category I am focusing on with all my efforts……….ANYTHING you can teaching me about social media/facebook would be very appreciated.

  • You are right about getting the information and doing something with it. I have purchased most of your courses and their is some great information on Public Domain, but you are also right that a person needs to know how to put it together. I started about two years ago, with a gentlemen named Brain Johnson, which he is teaching SEO and how to put together a complete web site and get free traffic to the site. I must say, that I was like a rabbit or rabbit jumping around from one thing to another all the time. Then I decided that I needed to start some were and stay with that person until I understood everything they were teaching. I have done that and now for the first time I’m putting up web sites. I’m doing Halloween at this time, because Brain enjoys this holiday. You only get paid for the site on the Halloween holiday which is about four weeks. You really don’t make much the rest of the year. Brain has added site each year and it now making around $30,000.00 on his site for this holiday each year and it gets better each year. So you right about learning the basic’s, because without them you will probably never get anything completed. I know after Halloween that I will do about ten or fifteen sites for Christmas season and hopefully I will make some money. Being new to internet marketing can and is confusing to say the less… But you have to start some were so just keep on studying and learning and doing and you will get there some day. This internet marketing is my last job, so to speak.. I’m 63 years old and the internet is the most happening place in this world. So I say to all Take care and enjoy and be prosperous…

    William….having fun working…

  • Tony:

    I must agree with you and everyone else who has posted a reply to this point. I have no problem building websites. It’s everything else after that point that I just can’t wrap my head around. I have purchased several programs from several people, but I come up against the same thing each time – each of the programs only teach you just enough to take you to a certain level of understanding. Then they want more money to take you to the next level, and so on. Once I got done paying for all the programs, I didn’t have the money to purchase the essential services I needed to do the online marketing they were suggesting (i.e. email marketing, analytic tools, key word generators, etc.)

    Besides all the programs sucking money out of my bank account, there are the elusive concepts of customer psychology, understanding your market, how to properly market to them, building a targeted customer profile, whether I should use social media like Facebook, Twitter or Youtube. I know that anyone can make a modest to outrageously huge income on the internet. I just want to know how it is done, where to plug myself in, make a few mistakes along the way (the fewer the better) and build a network of websites that generate enough revenue that allows me to leave my day job. I have a goal to accomplish this in 5 to 6 years.

  • Tony,
    I find the problem is not coming up with good products, Traffic, SEO etc. The problem is finding the time it takes to do all this stuff. Finding PD information that you can use for products takes a lot of research. Once you have done the research and have thrown away all of the junk that will not work, you have to create your products. Once the products have been created you have to build the sites, setup the accounts to collect your money, etc. Then you have to constantly monitor the sites and tweak them so they are generating as many sales as they can. When all this is done you have to start over and create the next product. All this takes a lot of time. Many of your readers are still learning how to do all this and I can understand why they never get past step two. I know how to do all the research, creation, web design, and marketing. I just don’t have the time to do it all myself. That is one of the reasons I am constantly looking for good employees who can handle the different sections and put together a finished package. Finding these people, at a price you can afford to pay also takes time, but will become necessary if you are going to build more than a few units.

    If a person is going to try using PD to create an income stream I highly suggest that they sit down and create a well thought out plan before they even start the PD research. Also find out if there is even a market for your idea. Go to Google and see what other people are doing in your niche. See if you can do it better. Decide if you want to do this as a business or a hobby. If a business, it is going to take a lot of “HARD WORK.”

    PD works and can be highly profitable, but not without a lot of work and frustration. Yea, but the rewards can be spectacular!

  • Guilty! Sorry I let you down, Tony. I hold my head in shame!

    Actually I did create one product from some things I learned from a public domain book…. so I did not totally let you down.

    What’s holding me back from doing more? Rose Mudd has the same problemo: Traffic. I have learned many techniques for getting “massive traffic”, all of which require money or time, neither of which I have much of. So, I just keep plugging away, slowly.

    I will get there Tony, I promise!


  • Tony –

    I have been following u for at least a couple of years. I have a lot of your products; some free, some paid.

    Your PD products (don’t have any of your other products so I can’t speak to that) are some of the best around. Period. U give more information in your free products than most authors give in their paid products. And the information in your paid products? It’s top notch. I’ve gotten ideas from your paid products that I haven’t seen *anywhere else*.

    AFA *using* the ideas I’ve gotten from your products, I’ve used the ideas to find PD products in several niches I’m interested in. We also used one of ur ideas when we recorded some videos for one of our niches.

    I’ve also downloaded several PD pieces from GoogleBooks and I wanna download more. (I recently found a PD book at a rare and used book store not far from here. I then found the book was already in GoogleBooks. Perfect! I don’t hafta scan it. Maybe.)

    When I download the PDFs from GoogleBooks they have that silly watermark on them. (I don’t know how Google thinks they can get away with telling people they can’t remove the watermark from PD materials or use them commercially if they download from GoogleBooks but that’s another matter.)

    So… two questions actually.

    1. What do u recommend for taking a PD PDF document and turning back into a Word document (short of getting Adobe Acrobat) so I can do something with it? I’ve tried a few solutions and they all seem to come up lacking in one area or another.

    2. How do I remove that silly Google watermark from the PD materials I download from GoogleBooks?

    Thanks for all u do and keep up the good work.


  • Jan:

    How to set up a site/blog with shopping cart.
    Nope I don’t want to travel to some distant city to do it.

    I’m wanting the help right here at home, right now.
    No planes, hotels and transportation costs.
    Some people may enjoy the interaction, I always feel like a dumb dork.

    At home I don’t have any erroneous thoughts about anyone except “can you deliver, so I can understand it and ACTUALLY do it”, spelled out instructions,word for word for a dumb blonde. (Okay I am).

    Thank you

  • Karen,
    Getting traffic is easy. Take some of those PD magazine articles
    and rewrite them. You don’t have to create a completely new article. Then post them to the article directories,, for one. Make sure your tag line at the bottom of the article points back to you. Create a half dozen of these articles over the next 3 to 4 weeks. People will start tinking you are an expert in your field. You will find that the traffic will start coming to your site. Before you know it you will have plenty of traffic. All it will cost you is your time. “NO MONEY REQUIRED.”

  • Jan,
    How complicated do you want to get? You can use WordPress (its free), then use a PayPal plugin. You can have a website up and running ready to take orders in less than 2 hours.

    I don’t know who you use for your hostting account, but look for one that uses Cpanel. Most have WordPress available and all you do is login and fill in your information. Away you go.

    Tony may have one of his webclasses which covers this. If not let me know and I will try and walk you through the steps.

  • Rick,
    If you are looking for a free program, good luck. My employee and I have tried almost every free conversion program we could find. They just don’t work. I currently use ABBY. I forget what the price was, a lot less than Acrobat. It converts to work quite well and keeps images in their proper place. Now, it is not perfect, but gets you about 98% of the way.

  • Lauren:

    This is the 21st century. The internet is the place to be to make money. I had a webmaster “do” a website for me. Disaster – lots of time and money and not much to show for it. So I decided to learn how to create a website myself. For content I use PD – books, magazines to fill the site with good articles.

    I must confess that I got lost in the jungle of a now abundance of good content available in public domain, and my creative juices started flowing. I have more ideas than time but that’s a good thing. I just have to really focus on one project at a time.

    The sequence is a simple one. Create an Opt-in Page (also known as a squeeze page) offering a free report (section taken from PD book) then a sales page – info taken from PD book index – joined to clickbank or paypal to buy product and download ebook. Rinse and repeat.

    I learned how to do all that myself from Christina Hills. Have never looked back. I think things are only scary when you don’t understand them. Christina gave me the confidence to do it myself.

    Any of the things I don’t have the time to do myself, I can outsource to someone else to do. Because I know exactly what to ask for and can give very specific instructions on what I want, I get it done – on or under budget and on time. Then I start the whole process again for the next project.

    The secret is to have many sites up on many topics. I aim to do a new one each month.

    I also learnt in my course how to use a whole bunch of ways (like adsense) to monetize the website as well. This is like the gravy. Simple when you know how.

    I think that if I always rely on other people to “do stuff” for me, my destiny will always be in other peoples hands. If I want to control my life, I have to be in the driving seat.

  • John:

    In one sense I agree entirely with you. It would be very worthwhile for you to consider setting up an A-Z of marketing PD online …from product sourcing to traffic generation, blogging etc…everything, all on one site. A single unified point of reference, with text and video instruction, step-by-step, click-by-click. It would be a big hit.
    On another level I strongly believe that most (but not all) of your readers ‘wish’ for a better future. They like the idea of selling online…but they don’t have the burning desire necessary to make it work. In short…they don’t want it bad enough. Their lives are too comfortable and they will never take action…they languish within their comfort zone, telling themselves that one day they will do what is necessary.
    My story is that i lost my job and have a mortgage and 3 school age kids plus my wife is long term sick.
    Often, only when you are in a position where you have to generate income or lose your home…do you get that burning desire…
    And now I know how to do it I wouldn’t go back to my old life. I earn the same as before but work on my own terms.
    You don’t have to just sell from websites. I sell on Ebay (in the UK)…selling niche products. Many of your readers know a hell of a lot more than me about PD products, websites and selling online in general…but I bet I sell more product than 95% of them……you see, I have no choice, I have to.
    My next step, now I have become an ‘expert’ Ebay seller of PD products, is to start running workshops to show others the possibilities.
    Even in the silly little field of Ebay selling, there are thousands upon thousands of people crying out to be shown step-by-step, click-by-click how to do it. I can see in the current economic climate that the possibilities to truly help others and give something back are huge. Even if people sre’nt losing there jobs, they are losing overtime, having wages frozen…while all the while inflation is increasing food, clothing and utility bills …they need more income, they are developing that ‘burning desire’
    …it’s a good starting point
    thanks for your support and keep up the good work
    John (in the UK)

  • I am one of those who hit a roadblock and got discouraged! I went through a lot of time and effort to create a public domain ebook that did not sale one lick. So I got away from public domain for a while but is planning on getting back because I really do like the whole public domain concept.

  • support:

    Hey Rick, I use Able2Doc Professional for converting the Google PDF’s. It’s worked pretty well for me and not super expensive.

  • support:

    Hey Jan,

    Jim is right…Wordpress with Paypal is my personal combination of choice…and I’ve actually created beginning to end, step-by-step videos on how to set it all up, from buying the domain, setting it up on your hosting account (I use Host Gator and Blue Host), to having the entire site set up. It’s extremely comprehensive.

  • support:

    Hey John,

    You hit the nail on the head with the burning desire. That is absolutely the case very often. Thanks for sharing and am excited to see your business evolving!

  • support:

    Wow…seems like I struck a chord here, and I’m glad…it confirms that my suspicions were correct.

    Jim, I appreciate your encouragement and feedback for the different comments. Much appreciated!

    So, based on what you’ve shared so far, I’m hearing that you a looking for a better understanding for:

    Traffic…Social Media…Customer Psychology…Market Research…Time and Site Management…and an Overview of the Entire Online Selling Process.

    I appreciate your comments. So, from a “learning it” or figuring it out” perspective, what are the BEST ways for you to understand how to accomplish these tasks yourself?


  • John:

    Hi Everyone;

    I think a big stumbling block for me is trying to figure out how to get an autoresponder working so that I can collect emails to later upsell. I subscribed to AWeber and had it for one year and couldn’t figure how to make it work.(I’m a Senior). I emailed for help and the Aweber rep told me to “Read The Directions”. Of course, I had read then many times over the last year – but parts weren’t clear. In the end, I cancelled my subscribtion and they lost monthly revenue.

    Question:I was wondering if “GetResponse” was any easier or whether you could recomend an easier autoresponder program to use?

    Tip: I pretty much got off every other internet marketers mailing list (except Tony’s) because I found that continually getting blasted by “pitches and offers” was distracting. I have come to the conclusion that I must stay on an “assignment for the day” until it is completed – or I will never get my second website completed. (My first does not have a Sales Page or the ability to collect emails. It is a “content site” with Adsense and links to affiliate products. So far – I have made 40 cents in commission over the past 15 months.

    It does not seem to be working and I am discouraged because I am unemployed and need the money. I am in a broad topic and should narrow my focus to a small niche area. I think I need to create a Sales Page Site where the whole website is one big highly focused “call to action” (buy this or do that).

    Any tips would be appreciated.


  • Joe:

    I have followed your articles, bought some of your products and acquired a load of PD stuff and having done that I wondered if you yourself did anything with your PD material? I cannot recall any site or otherwise where you are selling any of your products you created with PD?
    Perhaps I’m wrong and just missed it somewhere?

  • support:

    Hey Joe,

    I think that’s a fair question. I definitely practice what I preach…grin. And while I will not give away ALL my sites and secrets (for obvious reasons), I’m happy to share a few examples that will show the diversity with which you can use Public Domain Content.

    Here is a product site I have through CafePress, based primarily on designs created from Public Domain images:

    Here is another physical product and content site where the majority of the content is from the Public Domain:

    Here is a site focused on Local Marketing where all the content is from the Public Domain:

    Here is another site where the video and giveaway are both Public Domain-based, for the purpose of building a list in this niche:

    Hope these examples are helpful!


  • I’ve read the comments, and I agree: the creative and technical challenges involved with all of this can be daunting.

    I too am targeting to create my own product in time.

    Right now, I thought I’d let everyone know that I have helped two authors self-publish their books(one on Lulu, I’ve entered text, proofread, and helped edit. I’ve done research and helped market. With an author in Los Angeles, I entered her scripts on the computer, and kept her files and office area organized.

    Currently I assist an older gentleman, listing for him on Ebay, and consult with a dance studio owner to help her expand her business.

    I am training to be a social media manager (I already help people with the basics-I’m now learning more advanced services.) You can find my rates on my site. They’re negotiable, because of differing situations.

    If you are seriously interested, I will be happy to supply references.

    Good luck to us all!

  • Joe:

    Had a look at this list and can only say that I see nothing which could not be found in any i.e. (GSP Photo Arts’ 50,000 Images, this particular item just happens to be on the table in front of me)Where does the PD come into these sites? I truthfully expected something startling! but.

  • John:

    Great post Tony…

    My road Block… Shiney Objects!

    I can stick up a website, wordpress blog and a load of other stuff. But email after email there’s a launch of some kind and I just get sucked in. I just have to have a quick read. It’s a huge challenge of mine that I’m working on solving.

    Unsubscribing to a load of people has been my first step.

    There are a few people I remain subscribed to and you are one of them. Love your stuff and yes I’ve purchase a few products of yours. And yes…

    I haven’t done much about it other than sit back, relax and read through your material. But yet… the shiney objects get in the way.

    The second step I’ve taken has been outsourcing a lot of work and that has helped tremendously and has created some time for me. Your PD material has always stayed in the back of my mind, my intentions have been to use your content. But just haven’t got round to it.

    So it you have a quick and easy way of getting sites up quickly then, I’ll be all ears :o)


  • support:

    Joe…Funny that you would focus on images when, in nearly example I shared (except for the T-shirts), the images were NOT from the Public Domain…the content was.

    With the Diversity site, the products are largely based on Government content ($30K+ a year with corporate clients like Hershey’s). With the Spiritual Publishing site, a Public Domain poem and book (created a decent list from that one), the Generation 7 site, Public Domain images (mostly Edward Curtis) and the Contractor site, government content.

    Of course I have other sites (and products) created from images, magazine content, books, Government content and more. I never use Public Domain content as-is…I always re-purpose or re-design.

    So let me ask you Joe, I appreciate the skepticism, but what are YOU selling online. How are YOUR products selling?

  • frank:

    Great article I am in the same boat got the data but no where to with it

    Can you help

  • Tony Somma:

    I have many of your products and ahve set up a website site using Word Press after viewing your WordPress Video Series. I’ve used various GOV sites for content since the articles are PD. My next venture is a “local” site as you have suggested and I’ve hit a roadblock. I may have missed it in one of your courses, can’t seem to find out how to get the video I created to the sidebar. Any suggestions?

  • I have read the blog post and comments with great interest, and thank everyone for sharing.

    Tony, what I find hard is the graphics for a cover of a product and how you make it into 3D etc so it looks good on an image.

    I have learnt the hard way how to set up a WP blog and now am hoping to learn how to create landing pages.

    I have outsourced some of this work in the past, however, whilst generating traffic to sites etc, I found it to expensive. After all you need to make money first before spending it.

    Ideas for use of PD content I have pages of a notebook filled with them.

    Once again, thanks Tony and everyone.

  • Jim –

    It doesn’t hafta b a free product. I’ve looked at free and trial versions for paid products. I think I looked at ABBY but it’s awhile since I researched that. I’ll hafta take another look.



  • Tony –

    Thanks for the suggestion. Able2Doc is one I’m not familiar with. I’ll take a look.


  • support:

    Hey Tony, That info should be in the “Widgets” video of WordPress Mastery (I think).

  • Josh:

    Here’s how to make a simple product for E-bay. Go to a site such as Next type in a subject such as soap making. A few should come up. Next step, Copy and paste onto your word program or which is free by the way. Now edit all the stuff on the top and bottom to get a clean copy. Next, convert to PDF. Now when someone buys your “how to make soap” product, you simply send it to your burner cd-r. These cd’s are cheap to make. Keep your product in a file. Add a whole lot more soap making books to one cd to add extra value. Keep a separate file also for your pictures which you can host on photobucket and there is a way you can paste your pics for free on E-bay to keep costs down. There you go, a nice and easy product that you can put on E-bay. There is serious money being made this way and by sellers who have multiple products in multiple niches. Thanks Tony for all your advice!!!!

  • Hi, Tony,
    I also agree 1000% with what you’ve said and what others have commented.

    One thing I find myself doing is buying and collecting too many “how to’s” because they are touted as the best answer to marketing, etc. They’re “so easy” and others are making gazillions of dollars on them. I have several training programs that I’ve bought but then get snagged on technicalities. Like the one for affiliate marketing in 10 days that said to write an article for each of the three products I chose. Well, writing three articles about products you haven’t even used, making them “correct” for the ezine sites, and putting in the right links, etc., is not something you whip out. I’m still snagged there.

    My point: I have a full plate of how-to’s but can’t consume them all at once and I end up stopping altogether for awhile. Then I start back up again.

  • Josh:

    You can also get some old poetry books or old Victorian Romance novels and sell these or even self read them. The possibilities are endless. For example, you can even download free movies in the public domain and repurpose them and sell them on E-bay as well. Other great sellers on ebay are catalogs such as Sears, farming equipment, technical manuals, civil war books and also civil war picture books, Victorian x-mas images, sewing patterns and embroidery. Vintage plans sell well and arts and crafts too!!! Bundle them together and you can charge a higher price. The key is to have many niches as the sell through rate is 1/3. These can be made on the cheap as they can simply be burned onto a cd. To lower costs tell your customers that they will be in a sleeve or non cd cover as these won’t play in certain computers. Also, if you do have a higher value product, then it’s ok to have a nice pic on the cd. Truth be told, I have seen folks making thousands this way!!!

  • Mary:

    Hi John in the UK)
    Your post intrigued me. You said you sell Public Domain products on eBay.
    eBay stopped the sale of digital download products in 2008, which was a major blow. Do you “burn” your Public Domain Products on CD/DVDs and sell them as physical products? eBay is Free Traffic and I have an eBay Store. Tony has given us so much information through his Step-by-Step videos, I just haven’t figured out how to distribute it.
    Mary B.

  • Here’s an even better way:

    They will make CD’s and DVD’s with jewel cases, full color labeling (not paper printed on media), full color covers, backs, and inserts for $1.00-$2.00 each depending upon quantity, with no minimum order-you can order 1 CD/DVD and they will produce it within 24 hours.

    They will also drop ship the product anywhere in the world for $4.00-$5.00 per CD/DVD. Shipping is cheaper if you are ordering bulk and having them shipped to the same address.

    I don’t know any cheaper or easier way to do this. You don’t have to invets in a bunch of blank media and cases, store them, take time to burn them, print the labels, etc. (ink & paper cost money), then pack them, ship them, and also pay the postage.

    You would be better off using your time to create more products or putting up websites than producing your own CD/DVD’s.

    There are scripts available that install on your web site that integrate the sales pages with Kunaki and there are some that also integrate e-bay sales with Kunaki.

  • Josh,
    Do you mean that “the sell through rate is 1/3.” is 1 sale per 3 items or 1 listing per 3 listings?

  • Jim Garvin:

    Hi Tony

    I have a few products in the works, or at least planning stages. I think sometimes we get info overload. I tend to start a project and then get distracted, and begin another one. So now I have 3 half done projects instead of one completed…I guess I am lucky in the fact that I know how to use all the tools such as : autoresponders, wordpress,download pages, Kunaki etc..

    I just need a bit more focus..I agree with every one else here, your products and courses are sensational and you never fail to over deliver on your promises..

    There is however one product of yours I am still waiting for you to send me ….Your Public Domain Tool Bar..
    I know you had to redesign it and it was a big job to do it right and perfect like all your other products, which by the way I think I must own by now,

    Let me know when you think it will be done..

    Thanks a million for being one the good guys in the Biz, you never push garbage to you mailing list, I know if you reccomend something you use it yourself and beleive in it.

    Thank you Tony …Please give me an update on the PD TOOLBAR

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