When it comes to making money online, there are several proven methods to choose from. What do they have in common? They all require effort if you are to succeed. They all have the potential to make decent money. How do they differ? The cost to get started varies, as does required skills and skill levels. The first step in starting a profit producing online business is to choose the business that fits you needs and skills. The following overview is intended to give you a general idea of the money making methods that are available. I’ll cover each of them in depth in later posts.
Online Business Models
Most online business models fit one of two criteria: 1) Direct sales of products or services, 2) Commission sales on products or services owned by others. Direct sales are typically referred to as ecommerce websites. Commission sales can be done by many methods – website, email, direct mail and more.The online market continues to grow in spite of (or because of) economic conditions.
According to Statista, “Current e-commerce statistics state that 40 percent of worldwide internet users have bought products or goods online via desktop, mobile, tablet or other online devices. This amounts to more than 1 billion online buyers and is projected to continuously grow.”
Whether looking for the best price or the best provider, the Internet is usually the medium of choice when potential customers are considering going shopping. The fact that you can start an online business with little or no capital makes it far easier to start than the usual brick and mortar store. Granted, you still have rent to pay (unless you start with free hosting) but with unlimited hosting plans available for less than $5.00 per month, the price is doable. Domain names can be acquired for approximately $10.00 per year. Online business owners who invest time as their money are called “bootstrappers.” It is possible to grow an Internet business from the ground up with little or no money but doing so requires a serious time investment. Those who have money to invest in a business can pay others to do much of the work while they spend their time doing other things. You can choose either way or do a mix of both.
People make money by selling products or services online. This is commonly called eCommerce. Ebay, Etsy and Amazon are eCommerce sites. So are individual brand sites like Wal-Mart and other discount stores. Some stores are corporate owned. Others are owned by individuals.
Amazon and eBay provide ready-made places for people to sell items they own or create. There is no website to maintain, no brand to build. There are, however, fees to be paid to site owners in return for listing and selling there. Some sellers get their own websites. They are free of the corporate rules and fees but must build up their web presence online so that potential customers can find them. Some sellers actually do both – selling their products in an Etsy store as well as on their own website.
Sale of Services
Web designers, photographers, writers, accountants and other talented individuals sell services online. They build websites, write content, do data entry, and a host of other services in a work from home (or anywhere there is Internet access).
Some signup at Freelance websites like Freelancer.com, Guru.com, and Fiverr.com where they sell directly or bid on jobs posted by those needing work done. It isn’t unusual for people to start out working on one of the Freelance sites before moving on to build their own professional website from which to sell services. As noted earlier, it is also possible to sell services both from marketplaces and your own website at the same time.
One of the most popular ways to earn money online is by affiliate marketing. As an affiliate marketer, you sell products or services that belong to other people. Those people then pay you a commission for each sale. If you live in certain states, you can sign up as an affiliate for Amazon. You can then earn money by selling items that are listed on Amazon. You focus on getting people to see the product and purchase it. Amazon provides affiliates with plenty of tools to help them.
Affiliate Marketing Marketplaces
When it comes to affiliate marketing, you can go direct to a particular vendor (like Amazon) and signup to sell their products or you can go to a marketplace where many vendors are listed. Clickbank.com is a good example of an affiliate marketplace. So is Commission Junction (cj.com). You can view a wide array of products and services that are available to be promoted. Sometimes you must have some affiliate experience already or have a website of your own in order to promote a product or service. There are also vendors who will accept beginners. If you have no experience online, don’t let that get you down. Everyone who is now making sales online started out as a beginner.
Affiliate marketing methods include Adsense, blogging, CPA, email marketing, and PPC. (I’ll cover these in depth in a separate post.)
Online Business Venues
Brick and mortar stores are often limited by locations, city or state codes and other such criteria. There are far fewer boundaries when it comes to the appearance and size of your online business location. Landlords often exert much control over the building being leased. Certain appearances may be required (or prohibited). When it comes to online business venues, the sky is often the limit – especially if you are using your own hosting and your own website instead of a website provider.
You can use a standard website, an ecommerce website, a blog, a squeeze page, etc. You can even avoid the website issue altogether and focus on earning cash instead of building and growing a buyer list. You can sell your own stuff via your own website or you can sign up to sell on an established website. You can buy a ready made website, create your own website or pay someone to design your dream website.You can choose a wild, creative site design or a sleek, modern one. Or a design somewhere in between.
There may be a few restrictions if you choose free hosting. For instance, blogger.com and wordpress.com have rules that don’t apply if you choose to pay for hosting. They have specific rules regarding affiliate links and affiliate marketing.
No matter what venue you choose (self-hosted, free hosting or no web page at all) you do have to put time and effort into earning money.
Online Business Training
You don’t need a degree of any kind in order to succeed online. A degree can, in some instances, add credibility and make it possible to increase your prices, especially if you are selling high priced coaching or a similar service. But lack of a degree is no reason to fail online. The simplest and, often, most effective online training is learning as needed. Need to install WordPress? Watch a tutorial video on youtube. (Or pay someone on Fiverr.com to do it for you.) Need to come up with a good name for your business? Read a few articles on business branding. (Or pay someone on freelancer.com or guru.com to come up with a few good names for you to choose from.
Free training is available via Affilorama, Udemy and Wealthy Affiliate University. (Wealthy Affiliate University offers a limited free membership or a full-access paid option.)Udemy offers free and paid courses. In addition to using Udemy to learn how to do things, you can also become an instructor there and make money teaching others.
Making money online is touted as easy and lucrative – if you believe all of the “get rich quick” banners, ads and emails pushing products and services in your face. The truth is that an online business is just that – a business. It requires effort. You have to put time and, eventually, money into your business to help it grow and succeed. The good news is that there are all kinds of businesses to choose from and you don’t have to already have a lot of money to start one. You don’t even have to stop with one business. You can have as many as you can handle. You can stick with one business model – eCommerce or affiliate marketing – or you can choose a mix of both types. You can sell your own products/services or you can sell other people’s stuff. You can do it from a website or you can do it without one. Unlike brick and mortar, you don’t have to take the one building that’s available even if it doesn’t quite fit your business. In the Internet world, you can create your own building, decorate it your way and run your business as you wish. (Just stay within the lines of the law.)