How to sell your data

First off, if you just bought a list and are thinking about reselling it, don’t do it. When you are selling a subscription to data, that data needs to be kept up to date and curated regularly. If not, your data is going to get out of date quickly and people are just going to keep coming back to you and asking for refunds. You would probably do the same, right? If you are selling data, you need the following:

1. Current Data

If your data isn’t current, as soon as people purchasing your data find a couple bad entries, they are going to start distrusting your product and ask for a refund and/or review your poorly. To keep the data current, you need to either have a team or system doing this. A few systems that work well are to have an automated system scraping sites and recording data or to have an outsourced team entering information regularly. Of course, if you have an in-house sales team that uses a lead once and then discards it, that could be a great method as well. As far as up to date data is concerned, a good method for ensuring your users know the status of the information is to have the entry date. This way, people can sort by the most current records and understand that old records may or may not be current. However, that means you need to keep adding new records to enable the system to look good and work well for your clients.

2. Normalized Data

Normalized data means data that is always the same type for each different field. For example, in the ‘first name’ needs to always be text – no numbers or symbols, and always be the first name. A more complicated example is the date field. You need to have the same date format in every entry. So if you have 11/22/14 and another date that is 11-22-14 and yet another date that is November 22nd 2014, those dates all need to be modified to be the same format. There are a ton of ways that data can be non-normalized, and it often takes a developer or database specialist to get it just right. If your data is not normalized though, it’s not going to be able to be placed into the database and if it is added incorrectly it won’t be able to be searched, sorted, and filtered.

3. Data Ownership

What exactly constitutes ownership in data? It’s a bit of a gray line really. If you compiled it from reputable websites, it’s technically yours, right? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If you hacked a website and stole a leads list or list of blueprints, or the specifications of the newest iPhone is it yours? How about a list of credit card numbers? Definitely not, that’s theft and a punishable crime. But what if your team was scraping the web for the most recent government RFPs? That is publicly available data. But what if you bought a list? Is it yours then? Probably not. You need to check the contract under which you purchased that list. If you were doing the scraping and you were building the list, it’s yours. If you are reselling it outside the constraints of a contract or the law, that’s not going to work. Make sure you know where you got your data if it belongs to you, and what your constraints are when selling it. There are also local, state, and federal laws surrounding this that you need to check before selling data.

4. Sector or Industry

The more specific you are about your data, the easier it is to sell it. Remember, if you can’t think off the top of your head who would want to buy this data, how much they would pay, and be able to create a quick list of buyers to reach out to for making a sale, you are going to have a hard time selling your data. I would recommend making the list of buyers BEFORE you invest in a system to sell the data. After you have your buyers list, then reach out to some of them and pitch them on the data. If they’re willing to put money in your account before you’ve built the system to get access to the data, then you know you’ve got a winner. If not, you may want to specify your data or industry further. Now that you basically have what you need, let’s get started!

Sell your data

This is similar to the last item. The first step in selling data is to be able to make a list of everyone who wants to buy it. If you’re in the industry you’re selling to, know people in that industry, or can at least make a few phone calls to make a sale, great. The first step you need to take is to actually do those things. Remember, the most important part of selling your data is the money part. If people or companies aren’t interested in putting money in your pocket every month or every year for your data you’re just pursuing a hobby. If you want a business, people need to be paying you, so get them to pay you before you invest money in putting together a system to sell.

Your data sales list:

  • Have your list of people to sell your data to.
  • You are able to keep your data up to date or consistently add new data
  • Some of those people told you that they are willing to pay you
  • At least a couple people gave you some money to access your system before you actually built the thing
  • You are ready to get started.
Now what? Here are your steps to selling your data:
  1. Initial Outreach – Let everyone know that you are going to get them access to the system – depending on what you’re selling, you may or may not want to do this. Do this by taking the list of people on your list and sending them all an email with something like This is an email newsletter management system that will allow you to keep everyone up to date on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. You need to plan several emails out telling everyone about your steps in the process, where you are, how the data will look, etc. If you can, get people interested in what you’re doing and get them to give you feedback as you go along. If you’re successful in this, you will be able to generate an even larger list of buyers before you finish the build of the system.
  2. Create an online community using an online community tool like Facebook Groups,, Ultimate Member/, or and invite everyone in your email list to better get their feedback and keep them informed about what you’re doing. Your online community can be one of the most powerful things you can put together to grow your new data sales business, especially as you are figuring out how much to charge. Knowing how to charge is one of the most important aspects of sales, especially for a SaaS system. Getting this group’s feedback on pricing can be critical to your success. I also recommend reading the Price Intelligently SaaS Pricing Strategy book. It is the best book online on how to price your system.
  3. Promote your community and upcoming product by promoting yourself on Podcasts that your industry listens to, running Google or Facebook ads, reaching out to your industry contacts, and going to industry conferences and talking directly to your buyers!
  4. Build the system. In this case, you can leave it up to us to create your brand new fancy database sales system!
  5. Open the doors! Let everyone know that you built the system and it’s ready for them to buy it. If you’ve done a good job with your outreach and community building you should have plenty of buyers ready to go before you get started!
  6. Analyze and iterate. You thought it was going to be something like “Watch your millions roll in?” Nah, it’s not that easy. Now you have to learn about things like website analytics, content marketing, paid advertising, messaging, conversion rate optimization, and so much more. On the flip side, maybe you did everything right the first time and you really do watch your money come it. It does happen, but more often than not you have to work for it.
This a very broad list for selling your data, but it is basically what you have to do.  There are countless texts on the web about how to go about running a successful SaaS product, and I highly recommend reading those. If you want more on what to read and where to find it, send us a message and we’ll send you a list!