What do you think is THE biggest factor behind going from doing ok to having a proper online business?
There is one real way to push your business on, and that is to become a product creator. To have products of your own to sell. There are countless excellent reasons to be interested in earning money online and it is no exaggeration to say that this is a decision that can change your entire life.
Earning money online is appealing first and foremost to many people for the freedom that it affords them. If you can earn money online, then it essentially means that you can work from anywhere in the world. For some people this then means working from home which is a great way to have a much more relaxed lifestyle. Imagine if you had no commute, if you could pick and choose your working hours, or if you could work in bed when the mood took you?
Others will be more ambitious with their ability to work from home and will instead use it as a way to travel the world as a ‘digital nomad’. If you have an online business model that works, then you can earn a living anywhere in the world as long as you have a laptop and an internet connection. Why not see the world and have some amazing experiences along the way?
This opens up a whole new concept called ‘lifestyle design’. Lifestyle design means deciding what kind of life you would like to live and then coming up with a career plan to fit that lifestyle – rather than falling into a job and then being forced to change your life around that.
It’s not just the lack of commute that makes working online ‘more free’ though either. Many online business models have the distinct advantage of being forms of ‘passive’ income. What this means is that you can earn money even while you’re sleeping or relaxing with friends. Ultimately, if you are very smart with your online business model, you can end up generating massive income while spending very little time actually working!
But there are other massive benefits to earning money online too. For example, earning money through an online business model essentially means that you’re running your own business and that is a highly rewarding and satisfying experience. You can to do something you really care about and be your own boss with your own company name, your own logo and your own mission statement.
Then there’s the fact that you can potentially earn much more online. Most of the best online business models are highly scalable and have very little overheads. With you being the sole earner and possibly even the sole employee to begin with, you can generate a massive amount of money and progress much more quickly than you would do by climbing the corporate ladder in a traditional manner.
But perhaps that all sounds a bit like a pipe dream?
Maybe you don’t think you have what it takes to be a successful internet marketer, website owner or app developer?
Actually, it turns out that this type of business is more common than you think. And it’s becoming much more common too. In all likelihood, these online business models are a glimpse into the future. One day, we may find that very few of us end up working in stuffy, corporate environments.
To demonstrate just how possible this is today, read on to see some rather impressive statistics regarding online business…
Statistics About Online Earning
- 8% of affiliate marketers earn $50K-$100K
- 12% of affiliate marketers earn over $100K
- Many affiliate products offer up to 75% commission!Over one third of businesses are introducing a ‘digital transformation program’ buying into the promise of earning money online
- Another third have already put such a program in place!
- In 2015, content marketing generating 3 times as many leads for businesses as traditional marketing
- 73% of B2B organizations use video marketing
- 78% of companies have dedicated social media departments
- 91% of all consumers check their e-mail daily
- 66% of US customers over 15 have purchased a product via an email ad campaign
- Email advertising has a ROI of 4,300%!
- One in five Americans now work from home (thanks to the internet)
- That totals 53 million freelance Americans
- 54% of marketers believe SEO will be more in demand
- 96% of marketers rely on search engine optimization
- Ironically, search engine optimization is the most popular search term on Google relating to marketing
- Search ads accounted for $9.1 billion of advertising spend during the first half of 2014
I could go on and on!
So the point is, earning money online is indeed something that is going up and that more and more people and businesses are becoming interested in. It’s not rare or unusual to earn money online now – it’s something that over 50 million Americans are doing and even big businesses are now doing most of their business online.
What’s more, is that this article is going to show you just how easy it is to start marking money online. As you’ll see there are countless different methods you can use to earn money online and many of them are incredibly simple and don’t require any upfront investments.
That is to say, that if you’re so inclined, you can go start making money online this evening.
And that’s another exciting thing to consider. Earning money online is something that you can do on top of your current job. This doesn’t have to mean taking the frightening step of giving up your current job and putting all of your eggs in one basket. You can start earning money online today and only ever have to leave your job once you’re making a stable income and you decide it is safe and sensible to do so. Or you can carry on running a ‘side business’ on top of your current career indefinitely and potentially double, triple or quadruple your income!
What You Will Learn
All this will be possible thanks to the article you now hold in your metaphorical hands. In this article, you’ll learn of multiple different online business models that you can start making money from right now. These are tried and tested methods that are currently being used by countless people and that you can start benefiting from right away. Take a look through each chapter and see how they work. That way, you can then decide which method is right for you – or whether you would rather take a different approach to your online money making!
Here is just a small preview of what you will learn:
- How to create an information product
- How to sell affiliate products
- How to create and sell a piece of software
- How to make money from a ‘software as a service’ business model
- How to make money from a website or blog
- What CPA is and how you can use it to make money
- How to run a business through eBay
- How to promote a website, blog or eCommerce store
- How to create a drop shipping business
- How to create a membership site
And much more!
The Information Product Business
A digital product is essentially any product that you don’t hold in your hands and that can be saved on a computer, smartphone or tablet.
An information product meanwhile is a product that revolves around providing information. That means something like a book, a podcast or a course.
So a digital informational product is something that ticks both these boxes… much like this very eBook! This eBook is informational because you’re learning from it and it’s digital because it only exists on a file on your hard drive.
Creating and selling a digital product just so happens to be one of the most popular and most effective business models that there is. The reason for this is that it offers incredible ROI and is highly versatile.
When you create and sell a digital product, you are providing value in the form of the information contained therein. This is what allows you to charge money for your product and it’s what makes it desirable for your audience.
At the same time though, a digital product has very little overhead. There may be some initial investment involved in the creation of your product as you’ll need to outsource the process or pay someone to create it for you but after that, you’ll then be able to sell as many copies as you like without it costing you a single thing. There’s no cost associated with storage, there’s no delivery and there are no materials.
In business, this is known as ‘COGS’ or ‘Cost Of Goods Sold’.
With a high value and no overheads then, a digital product can provide almost 100% profit on each sale. What’s more, is that it’s incredibly versatile and simple to create and sell. You don’t need to get in touch with a manufacturing contractor, or find seed money, or learn to code… As long as you understand how to write into a word processor, this option is available for everyone.
How People Are Making Money From Information Products
So how do you turn this into a money making business model?
One good example we can turn to is ‘Double Your Dating’ (www.doubleyourdating.com).
This is a website that sells a wide variety of different informational products, all relating to how to attract and meet women.
The owners of this business therefore invest a little time and money into running the site and promoting it and then generate income from people who decide they would like more information and thus buy the books. This works because the products being sold have a very strong ‘value proposition’ which is to say that they solve a clear and simple problem and promise to make the buyers’ lives better in a measurable way. This makes promotion much easier.
In this case, ‘dating’ is the niche (meaning the subject) and this is one of the most popular niches out there. Other popular choices include ‘making money online’, ‘style’, ‘weight loss’, ‘muscle building’. Remember though, eBooks are just one option. You can also sell a video series, an online course, a shorter ‘report’ or a range of other information products.
In terms of how the business model works, it will largely be posting to a blog that will help you to bring more traffic to your website. The more you add content to your website in the form of a blog, the more people will be able to find your website via Google and the more people are likely to share your content on social media as well.
Adding content to a blog also allows you to build trust with your audience. The people who enjoy your content on the website will find themselves wanting more and trusting what you have to say. This then means they’ll be far more likely to want to buy your products when they see that you provide even more information behind a small pay wall.
That right there is the basis for ‘content marketing’ which we’ll look at more when we come onto the chapter on blogging.
Actually though, there are also other methods you can use to sell a digital product. For instance, you can sell a digital product via social media, on forums or even through Amazon (for Kindle). Another option is to let other people promote your product for you and to simply take a cut of the profits.
How to Create Your First Information Product
So there are lots of options when it comes to selling a digital product. Simply put, this is one of the simplest and easiest ways to get a product that you can then start promoting and marketing.
But how do you go about making one?
There are plenty of options here but in many cases you’ll be able to simply handle the creation of your digital product yourself. If you are selling an eBook for instance then you only need to create a large MSWord document, include some images and good formatting and then save the final file as a PDF. Alternatively, if you’re creating a video series, then you can just film yourself on camera and then edit the video neatly using editing software such as Adobe Photo Shop.
Creating an email course is even easier. For this, all you’ll need is to write out some emails and then sign up to an autoresponder which you can use to automatically send your emails. A good choice is AWeber (www.aweber.com).
The main tip when doing this is to make sure you come up with a digital product that will play to your strengths and that you can be proud of.
It’s very important to come up with a digital product you’re proud of because that way you’ll be able to promote it much more easily. When you talk about a product you truly believe in, your passion will come across and people will be far more likely to believe in what you’re offering too. If you’re kind of shy of the quality of what you’ve created, then your marketing will lack conviction and you won’t attract repeat customers.
In terms of creating something that plays to your strengths, that means picking a topic that you know a lot about and that is relevant to the topic or niche of your website and it means creating something you can create well. If you’re a great writer, then write an eBook!
If you aren’t so good at writing though but have an excellent manner on camera, then film a video series! If you can’t do either of those things, then consider using screenshots of your computer/creating slideshows and then narrating them.
Alternatively, another popular option is to simply outsource the creation of your digital information product. There are thousands of writers, video editors and other skilled individuals on the web and any one of them will likely be happy to help.
The best places to find these people are generally freelancing sites which include the likes of ‘Elance’ (www.elance.com) or ‘UpWork’ (www.upwork.com). On either of these you should be able to find someone with the skills you need and from there it will cost you between $100 and $1,000 depending on the nature of the job you need done and the quality you are looking for (good writers will generally charge upwards of $3 per 100 words).
What To Price Your eBook?
Once you have your digital product, the next question is how much you want to charge for it. This of course is entirely up to you, though you don’t want to charge too much and alienate your audience. We recommend around $7 for a short report, or $17-27 for a full length eBook (10,000 words plus).
What you’ll find when you look around the web is that there are plenty of examples of eBooks being sold for ridiculous prices – sometimes as much as $50, $100 or more. While this does happen, the books very rarely manage to provide value for money and in the long run this can lead to damaged reputations and angry customers.
Likewise, you’ll find it much easier to sell a cheaper book to begin with until you have built up a reputation for yourself as someone who can be trusted and who delivers premium content.
A good tip is to start with something small to test the market. Don’t aim to create the eBook to end all eBooks.
Instead, start out with something smaller like a report and sell that for $7. This allows you to very quickly and easily start honing your business model and generating income without investing too much or creating too much risk. Only once you’ve seen that this method is working and you’re earning money, do you then go and invest further into the business model with a bigger product at a higher price point.
Remember too – there’s nothing to stop you from experimenting with price points and running ‘split tests’ to see which is the most profitable!
Creating Your Landing/Sales Page
One of the most important tools when it comes to affiliate marketing is to create a landing page. This is essentially a single page, also known as a ‘sales page’, that is entirely dedicated to selling your one product.
A sales page will look different from the other pages on a website because it has no links to other parts of the site, no adverts and no distracting images. In other words, everything on the page is there to serve the one objective of selling copies of your information product or whatever else it is that you’re selling.
Often these pages are long and narrow and they contain a lot of text and a lot of ‘buy now’ buttons. Those buy now buttons are your ‘call to action’ buttons and of course they contain the affiliate link you just acquired.
The real magic of the landing page is the text. All the copy here is going to be aimed at persuading people to buy the product and this is where you’re really going to earn your wage. Your objective is to be as persuasive as possible while not misrepresenting what you have to sell.
The way to do this is to remember that ‘value proposition’. That means focusing on what the product does for people. How will their lives be better after they’ve used it? Maybe they’ll be a success with the opposite sex, or maybe they’ll be much richer and happier. Your job is to get them to imagine that possibility and to really desire it.
At the same time, you point out their current failings in their situation and why their previous attempts to improve their lot in life may have failed. In other words, you present a problem and then provide the solution – that solution being the eBook you’re selling or the online course.
An easy and fast way to create a sales page is by using OptimizePress (http://optimizepress.com) which is a theme for WordPress.
Once you have this landing page, you’ll then be well equipped to market your product very easily. For instance, if you pay for advertising then all you need to do is ensure those ads are sending the right kind of traffic to your sales page! Likewise, you can hand out flyers with the URL of your sales page, or you can mention it in social media posts. If you’ve written your sales script well then you can expect a large number of people who stumble on that page to end up converting – becoming paying customers!
Affiliate marketing is very interesting as it’s actually similar to the last business model we looked at but with one key difference: you don’t need a product.
So if you thought that creating a digital product was low risk, this is even lower risk.
How is this possible? Simple: you are selling someone else’s product. Your profits then will come instead from the commission made on that product which is much higher on the web than it is for door-to-door salesmen. To put things in perspective, you can sometimes make as much as 100% commission on a digital product. That means you actually earn more than the product creator!
So how does this work? Why would they be interested in offering you more money than themselves?
As we discussed, a digital product has no COGS which means it offers 100% profit. A product creator can sell as many copies of their product as they like then and then get affiliates to sell more of their product on top of that. They might not get 100% of your sales, but those are still additional sales generating additional profits on top of what they already earned. And the more commission they offer to you, the more people will take on their product and start promoting it. This means they can end up with a legion of people selling their products while they reap the benefits!
From your perspective though it makes perfect sense too. Not only are you getting to sell a product without having to invest any time or money on creation – but you’re also able to choose a tried and tested seller. In other words, you can pick something that you can already see is selling really well!
And there’s no limit to your earnings here either: if you want more money, you simply find a more expensive product.
Or maybe you end up taking on 2 or 10 affiliate products and earning from all of them!
How to Get Started In Affiliate Marketing
So how does this actually work?
To begin with, you need to find your product that you want to sell. The easiest way to do this is through an affiliate network such as JVZoo (www.jvzoo.com), Commission Junction (www.cj.com), ClicBank (www.clickbank.com), WSOPro (www.warriorforum.com/warrior-special-offers/) or others.
Here, you’ll then be able to find a massive list of affiliate products along with the amount they’ve sold, the commission they’re offering and their price. You then find something that appeals to you and that fits your niche and you apply for an ‘affiliate link’.
That link is basically a special URL that directs people to the page where they can buy the product while also storing a cookie on their computer to show that you sent them. If they click your link and then buy the product within a certain time frame, it is logged as your sale and you get the money. Very straightforward!
The ClickBank Marketplace
Your job then is to simply promote that affiliate link, which you can do in a number of ways. You might for instance decide to simply set up an advertising campaign using Facebook Ads or AdWords. As long as you’re paying less for the advertising than you’re earning from the sales, then this will be an effective method.
Another option is to use your own channels. If you create a large email list then you can send your affiliate link around those subscribers after you’ve built their trust. Or if you have a blog, you can promote the link that way. You can even promote the links via social media, or using ‘real world’ posters and flyers. Or how about a YouTube channel?
Either way, this is a very simple and straightforward business model that lets you earn big cash without having to invest anything or take any risks yourself. There are some very well known figures in the affiliate marketing industry which include the likes of John Chow (www.johnchow.com) who is now somewhat famous online and regularly attends talks and interviews.
Other big names include Mark Link and Rae Hoffman. All these people now live incredible lifestyles enjoying passive income while they travel the world or spend more time with their families.
Affiliate Marketing Best Practices And Tips
Now you know what affiliate marketing is and how to get started with an affiliate marketing network, the next thing to consider is how best to succeed in this space and to really start generating the kind of income you’re looking for.
One of the most important points here is to pick the right product. Of course this means that you should choose a product that is selling well and that offers large commission on an attractive price point.
But on top of that, you also need to think about how you’re going to sell that product and succeed in that niche. This is the most important part and it’s something that will help you in a ton of different online business models actually.
When selling anything, you need to look for what is known as the ‘route to market’. This essentially means the route you’re going to take to present your product to the largest number of people who may be interested in it. If you have an eBook on flow arranging, then a route to market might be something like a blog on flowers, or maybe a magazine for brides-to-be.
Most of us have a few contacts and resources we can already use. Maybe you happen to be in touch with a big blogger in the fitness niche?
Maybe you happen to know the editor of a magazine?
Instead of choosing a random product and then trying to build that audience from scratch, choose the subject that you already have a head-start in and then exploit those contacts and opportunities. When you choose your product remember that you aren’t just choosing your product – you’re choosing your market, your marketing strategy and your audience!
Oh and often this means going for slightly smaller niches. It’s sometimes easier to find and connect with a group of truckers than it is to get noticed among all the different marketers going after the dating crowd. Once again, starting small and building up is often the best strategy.
One last point to consider is that there are also a number of affiliate programs aimed at people who want to sell physical products. The best known of these is Amazon’s Associate Program (https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/)
This lets you promote any product on Amazon for commission, potentially opening you up to a much wider audience. Bear in mind though that these sales offer much smaller commissions – typically about 3-10% of the retail price.
Software or SaaS
There is one problem with affiliate or information products: they don’t appeal to everyone.
A great digital information product can provide excellent value to the end user and some people really appreciate what they can learn from an eBook.
But there’s also a lot of junk out there. Some eBooks are just bad and they have a little bit of a bad reputation as a result. Likewise, some people feel very funny about selling something that essentially anyone with the right information could make. eBooks are a dime a dozen too, which makes it much harder to stand out and to demonstrate value.
That’s before we even consider the fact that a lot of the information in an eBook is normally available online as well… for free.
Something a little more ambitious you can create in that case then is software. The general public are far more used to spending money on software and programs and it’s much easier to communicate the value of something that, say, organizes your contacts, or carries out complex math.
At the same time though, software has many of the same advantages as information products – once again there is no COGS and there is no reason to spend lots of money on expensive materials.
There are also multiple different ways to monetize software, which again makes it potentially more appealing for some people…
How to Monetize Software
One of the most simple and straightforward ways to monetize software is of course to simply sell the software. This can be very varied in terms of the scope and the price.
For instance, if you look at a piece of software such as Sony Vegas (video editing software), that will set you back several hundred dollars for the full package. On the other hand, you then have ‘apps’ which will sell on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store for 50cents.
Of course it’s much easier to go after the latter market – a small app is cheaper to develop and maintain and from there, you’ll have a great route to market (and payment system) in the form of those stores.
Another option with an app meanwhile is to make money from advertising. In this model, you actually give the app away for free but then make money every time someone clicks on or views an ad that shows on top of it.
Another completely different option is to go the SaaS route. This stands for ‘Software As A Service’ and essentially it means that you are selling access to a piece of software for a recurring fee – much like a subscription.
The dating website Match.com (www.match.com) is a great example of this. Others will often offer a free membership in order to attract potential customers and then encourage to upgrade their membership for a fee, giving access to more features. Examples of this include Dropbox (www.dropbox.com), Evernote (www.evernote.com) and Feedly (www.feedly.com).
How to Create Your Own Software
Now, creating a piece of software is going to be a little more challenging than creating an information product. The question is just how much of a challenge you’re willing to take on.
If you’re going to create a mobile app, then assuming it’s something simple, this will require a relatively low investment and should be something most readers can accomplish. On the other hand though, if your intention is to create a SaaS business model, this will involve a lot more work.
That’s because creating software that can be a service will normally mean creating something that runs in the browser and is cloud enabled. In other words, people need to be able to log in from anywhere, edit files, communicate with others, etc.
This then means that your program is going to need to run on a server, which immediately makes things more complicated as now you’ll need to understand how servers work and you’ll probably need multiple coding languages in order to handle what’s going on behind the scenes (called the ‘backend’).
You’ll also need to deal with customer complaints and potential errors and generally provide a service. This is not a passive model and it has a much larger barrier to entry.
Of course on the other hand, creating a SaaS model means that you have much more guaranteed income and potentially earn much more from each customer. Once again then, the best advice is to start with something much more simple like a mobile app and then to build up to bigger challenges such as a web app.
Either way, you’re going to either need to learn programming or you’re going to need to find someone who can help you do that. Once again, you can outsource the creation of your software by going to Elance and UpWork. If you’re building a SaaS business, then note that you’re going to need a ‘full stack developer’ which means that you’re hiring someone who understands everything from HTML and CSS (which are used in web design) to PHP and Linux.
In other words, they need to know every stage of the coding process and each element that contributes to a smoothly running piece of cloud software. If you can’t find a true full stack developer, then you’ll more likely need a team.
For mobile apps, finding a developer will be a bit simpler. Do make sure you see a sample of their work first though and for preference, try to choose someone who is in your local area so that you can work together at the same computer. This will save you a LOT of time.
Doing It Yourself
If you want to create your own software though, then what options do you have?
Unfortunately, this is a massive question and not one that can easily be answered here. Suffice to say that there are hundreds if not thousands of programming languages out there and the right one to learn will depend entirely on your skill level and the nature of your project.
To make an Android app for instance you will need to learn Java, as well as how to use the Android SDK. Conversely, if you’re making a computer game for the PC, then the easiest strategy is likely going to be learning to use Unity which will require a little coding in C#.
As mentioned, creating a web app is a huge undertaking and will require you to learn HTML and CSS along with PHP, Python or Ruby, several frameworks and more.
All this is not to say that learning to code can’t be done. Just recognize that there’s no single way to do it and it will take time. If you’re coding yourself then you must start with a simple project. Buy yourself a book, do lots of Googling and work towards something very simple as a learning exercise to begin with.
Another option is to use something like an ‘app builder’. These are very limited in terms of what they can accomplish though and won’t be suitable for most online business models.
So this option is a little harder than the last two. Still though, if you can create something truly useful and unique then you’ll have contributed greatly to the web and you can be very proud of that! And while unlikely, this has very real potential to make you very rich!
So, creating a SaaS business model is a rather large undertaking compared to becoming an affiliate marketer. But as we saw, it definitely does have its advantages as well. And one of the biggest of those advantages is the fact that it allows you to set up recurring income and to earn much more from a single visitor. Instead of getting a one off payment for a download, you get a recurring payment from that same person for months or maybe even years.
And as it happens, there is an easier way to accomplish this… which is simply to set up a membership site! As the name suggests, this is a website or blog that charges a recurring fee for membership. Normally this works by presenting some information for free but then having more information and perhaps discussion/community behind a pay wall.
An example of this is LongeCity (www.longecity.org). This is a website all about techniques you can use to live longer, or that you can use to improve your brain power using supplementation. While the main site is free and you can even read much of the forum, in order to participate in the discussion you need to become a paid member.
Another good example is Lynda.com (www.lynda.com). This site has a different topic – teaching a range of skills – but is once again a paid site meaning that you need to be a member in order to access the articles. Many newspapers with websites also do the same thing – but partly this is to avoid preventing people from paying for their papers by getting the same content online for free!
Creating Your Membership Site
The good news is that creating a membership site is really relatively simple and straightforward. All you need to do is to create a website or blog as you normally would – using WordPress (http://www.wordpress.org) and then to install a plugin that will handle the recurring fee on your behalf. These include ‘AMember’ (www.amember.com) and ‘MemberMouse’ (http://membermouse.com/).
The hard part here then, is getting people to want to subscribe to your blog or website when they’re so used to getting content online for free. In order to make it worthwhile, you’re going to have to offer something that they feel they can’t get elsewhere or that is more valuable than what they’re used to getting for free.
Building a big community is also a great way to do this, as people love getting interaction with others who are interested in their topic and they love feeling as though they are a part of an ‘exclusive’ membership program. It’s like being in a secret club!
The examples we looked at both do this very well. In the case of Longecity.com, you have a community discussing things that are potentially very valuable (raising IQ and life extension) and information that isn’t available everywhere. This lends itself very well to the ‘underground website’ mentality and makes becoming a member very appealing.
Meanwhile, Lynda.com provides skills and training that someone might be able to use to earn more money. Thus they are getting real value for money and they may even be able to consider it as an investment.
Your job when creating your membership site then is to create something that is exciting, exclusive and rare so that people are willing to pay to become a part of it. And often this is going to involve giving some content away for free in order to demonstrate the value on offer.
Note that there is another option available for those looking to make money from paid content. YouTube has a ‘paid content’ option that allows you to keep certain videos behind a pay wall. This is a great option as YouTube will make it easier for you to handle payments and to promote your content. Check out how to do this here: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/3249127?hl=en-GB.
So far we’ve looked mostly at business models that are quite unique to the web. We’ve been looking primarily at selling digital products or making affiliate sales – all things that revolve around information and content and don’t involve any good, old-fashioned real products.
Well that all changes with eBay, which is actually a fantastic tool for making money and which presents a ton of different options. If you’re looking for a more traditional way to make money by selling products, then eBay is the perfect choice.
Selling Things You’ve Made
Actually, you can combine one of the business models we’ve already seen here. If you want to, there is nothing to stop you from listing your digital product on eBay and selling it that way.
Likewise though, you can also sell physical things you’ve made and if you have any skills in DIY, arts or crafts or anything else, then you can make money selling those items on eBay. Enjoy making jewelry in your spare time?
Good at painting beautiful sceneries?
Then why not just list your items on eBay with a smart keyword and start making money from your hobby? With time you can set up your own online store and eCommerce option, but eBay is a great way to get this business moving and to find new customers.
(Another option here is to use Etsy (www.etsy.com) which is effectively a version of eBay focused on home made products.)
And actually, you don’t even need to be particularly great at crafts to make money selling items on eBay that you made. I once bought a poster that was supposed to look like stars glowing in the dark when the lights were off.
What I received was clearly a large A3 piece of paper that someone had dotted with a glow pen. I was pretty annoyed (it cost $15!) and I’m not suggesting you trick your customers but the point is that there are smart ways to create value using everyday items.
Buying and Selling
If you want a more scalable business model though, then a great option is to buy products and sell them for more.
The best way to do this is to buy the products in bulk or wholesale and ideally you should do this directly from the manufacturer. When you do that, you will make a big saving on your products and potentially you can expect to get the items at less than half price when you order 100 or more at a time. This is called ‘keystone pricing’ and it’s a standard that most wholesalers and resellers adhere to (you are now a reseller, by the way!).
So you buy 100 pairs of jeans/blank CDs and then you simply sell them individually on eBay for twice the price. This then means you can sell the lot and end up with a 100% increase on revenue. Minus the costs of listing the items and of delivery and you can make 80% profit on your initial investment or more.
Now what you do, is you simply take some money out of that and put it in your bank as your earnings and then you invest 150% back into buying more stock and inventory.
The only risk is that one initial investment and from there, you’re simply reinvesting the profits back into more items.
Eventually, you’ll be putting in orders for thousands of items and making thousands of dollars for selling them. And all you need is an eBay account and a room big enough to store your inventory.
Note that you can also find ways to add extra value yourself in order to make even more money still. A good example of this would be to hand paint a phone case, or perhaps to bundle items together and tie a nice bow on them – creating a ‘gift pack’.
That last business model, involving becoming a reseller on eBay, is something that will appeal to a lot of people. This is a business model that is simple and easy, it makes sense and it involves selling tangible, real products.
The only downsides of that method are that you need to make that initial investment in your first order and you need to both store and deliver all your items. If you’re not a fan of wrapping parcels, then this can get very old, very fast.
But what if I told you there was another option out there that allowed you to skip over all the boring bits while still doing essentially the same thing?
Well, that business model exists and it’s called ‘drop shipping’. Here, you are essentially acting as something between a reseller and an affiliate and you’re cutting out the middle man – in this case eBay.
So what drop shipping essentially involves is selling products on the behalf of a wholesale supplier. You promote the product just as you normally would and then you process the payment. Then, all you do is to pass the shipping details on to the supplier and pay them their share.
In many ways, drop shipping is the perfect business model. You get to sell real products that appeal to a huge range of potential customers and at the same time, you don’t have to worry about fulfillment or inventory. Better yet, most of your customers never need to know that you’re drop shipping. ‘Private label shipping’ means that you get to ship the product from the wholesaler with your branding and return address on the packaging!
How to Get Started Drop Shipping
The only downside of drop shipping as a business model is that it can be somewhat difficult at times to find willing wholesalers who will play along. This means you may need to do some extensive searching in order to find a company that supplies what it is you’re hoping to sell and that will offer the drop shipping service.
Fortunately, there are some tools you can use to more easily find drop shipping wholesalers. One is Alibaba (www.alibaba.com/) which lets you easily search through a directory of products and then find the contact details for the seller.
Another is Worldwide Brands (www.worldwidebrands.com), though that directory requires paid membership (oh look, an example of a membership site!).
Another final option, is to target the manufacturers themselves. If you find a product you really like, then just look up who made it and find their contact details. It never hurts to try!
Creating an eCommerce Store
If you’re going to become a drop seller then creating an ecommerce store will be highly helpful when it comes to generating sales. What’s more, an ecommerce store can also be very helpful when it comes to several other of these business models.
An ecommerce store is essentially an extension of your website or blog through which you can sell products. This will list your items and allow people to easily buy them and will then manage your sales – for you to pass on to your manufacturers/wholesalers.
As with creating a membership site, you can often create an ecommerce store simply by adding a plug in to your WordPress site. One of the most popular options is WooCommerce (http://www.woothemes.com/woocommerce/) which simply requires you to install the plugin to your WordPress and then start entering your items, your prices and your payment details (for receiving payments).
If you’re looking for something a bit larger, then another choice is Megento (www.magento.com/). Magento works just like WooCommerce except it is not a WordPress plugin. This means you’ll need to set up a Magento store like a separate site on your server and then point to it. In exchange, you get a much more powerful system capable of listing up to 50,000 items (whereas WooCommerce is suitable for up to 500 items).
An alternative route to go is Shopify (www.shopify.com/). Shopify is a ‘hosted’ solution, which means that you don’t install or upload it yourself.
Instead, Shopify is like a separate website with a login and you then create a store on that site and then link to it from your own blog. Shopify grants you less flexibility as compared with a self-hosted solution such as WooCommerce. However, in exchange it is somewhat easier to manage seeing as it isn’t ‘your responsibility’ as it were.
CPA marketing stands for ‘Cost Per Action’. This is an interesting alternative to affiliate marketing that is similar in many ways.
Basically, what ‘cost per action’ means is that you get paid every time someone carries out a certain action. Now, in many cases this might mean that you get paid when someone buys something – in which case it is working similarly to affiliate marketing (except that you’re getting paid a flat rate most likely). In other cases though, the ‘action’ might mean subscribing to a mailing list or joining a membership site.
Another difference is that CPA is often managed more similarly to PPC or display advertising. In other words, rather than promoting a product you might simply place adverts on your website. Instead of being paid for every click though, you get paid when someone clicks on the advert and then takes the required action.
Similar again to affiliate marketing, the first thing you need to do to get started with CPA marketing is to find yourself a platform where you’ll be able to track down the different offers and start promoting the adverts/links.
Currently, CPA marketing isn’t quite as big as affiliate marketing which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it means less competition for you but it’s a bad thing because it’s a little harder to find good options. Likewise, there aren’t as many networks that have quite risen to the top of the heap like JVZoo or Clickbank. Some of the CPA networks are actually a bit poorly made and in some cases even disreputable. Make sure you do your research then before choosing one to go with!
That said, some good CPA networks to choose from include Max Bounty (www.maxbounty.com), PeerFly (www.peerfly.com) or Clickbooth (www.clickbooth.com). Make sure to read the reviews and browse through what’s available in order to find the right products and deals that you want to promote.
MaxBounty is a must if you want to start in CPA marketing
What you’ll find when looking at these is that the whole process is a little simpler and more automated versus affiliate marketing. You simply sign up as a publisher and then post the ads/promotions on your site without having to deal directly with the brand that is offering the CPA promotion. In other words, this system is a lot closer to using AdSense or other ‘Pay Per Click’ adverts.
PeerFly is another great CPA network you might want to add to the list
How to Get Accepted Into a CPA Network
One of the tougher parts of CPA marketing is that you need to be ‘accepted’ into the network and into the specific deal.
In order to make sure that they are offering their clients the very best service, CPA networks make sure to vet the publishers they work with closely. They want to make sure that you are representing the offers you’re promoting well and that the brands they work with will be proud to be associated with your business.
All this means that if you have a website that looks like it was made by a 13 year old, you’re going to struggle.
Likewise, if you have no prior experience or examples of your work then you may also struggle.
So the solution is to make sure that you have a good website that you can demonstrate to those networks that you’re delivering good value and you’re reaching a larger audience. This does mean that CPA might not be the best choice for those who are starting out with their first online business model – as they’ll need to build up some traction first.
Another tip for getting accepted into CPA networks is to pick up the phone and give them a call. Ask to speak with an affiliate manager and this way you can put forward your strong case for why you think you should be accepted. This essentially fast tracks you and it’s certainly much quicker and easier than waiting for lots of emails to come through.
Of course the first thing that comes to mind for many people when discussing ways to make money online is blogging.
A successful blog is an incredibly valuable tool because it essentially provides you with a platform through which you can promote any other type of business model.
For instance, if you chose to become an affiliate marketer, then building up a popular blog with a large, regular readership is one of the very best ways to sell those products. Likewise, if you want to be a drop seller, then you can really benefit from a blog by simply creating an ecommerce store and using the blog to promote that.
We’ve already seen that you actually need to have a good website or blog in place if you plan on CPA marketing. The same goes double for subscription sites.
There are more options with blogging too. One is to use PPC advertising such as AdSense. AdSense are ads from Google that pay out each time someone clicks on them. You simply add some ‘ad script’ to your website and then it will show different adverts at different times.
Or perhaps you just want to use display ads?
Get big enough and many brands will pay you monthly to feature their adverts on your site. Likewise, you can use a blog to launch all kinds of other business ventures or you can get paid by sponsors to recommend products. A website can even be used to sell a service – if you provide web design or writing services then your website can be a great place to demonstrate your talent and your knowledge.
There are countless examples of people who have become very wealthy through running a blog. Pat Flynn who owns (www.smartpassiveincome.com) is one such example. Pat is a guy who talks about making money online and who actually owns several blogs and websites including one aimed at food trucks which he publishes his earnings from.
Pat’s blog is very easy to read and provides a ton of great information and as a result, he has achieved almost superstar status and is invited to big events. This is just an ordinary family guy! Pat makes his money mainly through adverts on the sites and via sales of information products.
Another great example is The Art of Manliness (www.artofmanliness.com). This blog was founded by Brett McKay in 2008 and focuses on a range of topics relating to what it means to be a man in the 21st century. It’s a unique niche that allows him to cover diverse topics ranging from beard trimming, to weightlifting, to how to smoke a cigar and drink whiskey. The site is now highly successful and provides far more than a full time income to Brett and his family.
He makes his income through various types of advertising, possibly commission on physical products and through sales of his own products through an ecommerce store.
How to Get Started, And Succeed!
The problem with running a blog is that it’s not easy. In order for a blog to become profitable, it’s often necessary for you to be getting hundreds of thousands of views a day and to have a smart form of monetization in place.
The question is, how do you get to this point?
Setting Up a Blog
Thankfully, actually setting up a blog is a relatively easy process. To do this, you’ll need to find a hosting account and a domain name and you’ll probably want to use a CMS such as WordPress.
A hosting account is basically what gives you the ‘space’ to store your files on the web. You’ll be paying a monthly or yearly fee in order to rent space on a ‘server’ which is a giant computer that remains constantly connected to the web at all times. You place your website files on that and it ensures they’re able to be served up when someone wants to find them.
In order to find those files though, your visitors will need to use your domain name or URL. This is the address that people will type in order to find your website and this address is going to point at the specific directory within the server so that people are shown your website when they navigate there.
Fortunately, finding hosting and a domain name are both relatively easy tasks and shouldn’t set you back too much more than $200 a year to begin with (tops). This is where creating a SaaS business would be much more complicated – as you’d need a lot more space and speed from the server in order to let thousands of users upload and edit files as they needed to.
A great example of a hosting site that also offers domain name registration and web hosting is Blue Host (www.bluehost.com). A quick search on Google though will yield many, many more.
Next comes the CMS. CMS stands for ‘Content Management System’ and essentially what this is, is a tool that will allow you to easily change the look of your website and to add and delete pages of content.
The best known CMS is WordPress and it’s highly recommended that you go this route. WordPress will allow you to create a website in minutes rather than months, it will manage your files and it will look highly professional.
WordPress is not a ‘beginners’ tool by any means but rather is a professional piece of CMS software that is actually used by many of the biggest brands on the planet.
Huge websites like Forbes, the BBC and Mashable use WordPress, as do the aforementioned successful blogs we mentioned. Using WordPress also ensures your site will be compatible with a ton of useful tools and features including the aforementioned WooCommerce and Amember.
It also means you’ll have a community of people out there who can help with any technical troubles you may be having and that your site will be easy for most web developers to understand and edit. In short, WordPress makes life much easier for you and also makes your site far more professional. It is tried and tested and known to succeed… so why go with anything else?
If you choose a prominent hosting service like BlueHost, then the option to install WordPress will even be right there in the control panel meaning it takes literally just one click.
All that said, there are other CMS options if you would prefer. One is Joomla! (www.joomla.org) which is similar to WordPress and offers a lot of flexibility. It’s a lot more fiddly though and there’s less support available – mostly it is used in house for companies creating backend software.
Another popular choice is Drupal, which is again much more complicated. Of course you could always create your own CMS or forego having one at all, but either of these choices will drastically increase your workload while actually putting your business at more risk.
Note: There are other options that don’t require self-hosting, such as Blogger. However, this is an inferior tool for multiple reasons. Not only do hosted options mean you can’t choose your own URL but they also tend to be very limited in terms of space, bandwidth and the other elements of your website. Blogger is also highly limited in terms of the features it offers for building your own web design. In other words, if you want to create a proper website with the potential to grow and scale into something that will earn a lot of money, you can’t use something like Blogger.
Creating Blog Posts
Once you have your blog and you’ve given it a look and navigation you’re proud of, the next step is to start writing blog posts. This is very important as it’s what will give your site its value and it’s what will encourage people to want to visit your site and hopefully to come back time and time again.
The problem though is going to be standing out in a sea of content from other websites and blogs. To do this, you need to focus on offering something that is very high quality and that is consistently offering value. As we’ll see later on, this is also good for your SEO.
The key to remember is that someone has to want to read your content based on the title and based on their previous experience with your site and brand. If you constantly churn out content that is uninspired, derivative or badly written then no one is going to bother to visit.
This is why the ‘optimal length’ for a blog post is actually around 1,800 words. That might seem a bit long but this kind of length is what will enable you to really dive into a topic and to offer some insight and discussion that can’t be found elsewhere. It lets you do a comprehensive overview of a subject and it lets you make your blog post into a resource that other people will recommend and share around the net.
Meanwhile, you also need to think about the title and the topic. If you are writing another article called ‘Top 10 Pec Exercises’ for your fitness website, then you aren’t likely to win over any new fans. Why? Because this subject and structure have both been done to death already! People read the title and already know precisely what your post will be about and they’ve probably already seen the top ten exercises you’re going to offer. How is that providing value?
On the other hand, consider the topics/titles from Maria Popova’s incredible ‘Brain Pickings’ (www.brainpickings.org) website. Here are a few:
“Bruce Lee on Self-Actualization and the Crucial Difference Between Pride and Self Esteem”
“The Outsider With the Public Voice: How Joan Didion Mirrored Us Back to Ourselves”
“A year Without Mom: A Gorgeous Graphic Novel About Separation and Reunion, the End of Childhood and the Tradeoffs of Happiness”
These titles are unique, fascinating and they beg to be read. What’s more, is that when you click on any of those titles, you quickly find that the same care and attention has been given to the posts themselves. Each blog post is between 1-3,000 words long, it is decorated by beautiful images and quotes and it is very well written. In other words, it’s offering real value for the reader and giving them something to enjoy over a cup of coffee.
How much more likely do you think that something like this is to generate discussion? Or to get shared? And how much more likely is someone to subscribe to that blog? It’s just so far superior when compared to an article on ‘The Top 10 Pec Exercises’.
Of course this doesn’t mean all your posts need to be highly thought-provoking philosophical pieces – they just need to be unique, inherently interesting and different.
If it’s the fitness niche you’re interested in, then consider some of these titles from Breaking Muscle (www.breakingmuscle.co.uk):
“World-Level Weightlifters Are Just Like Us”
“The One-Session, One-Exercise, One-Set Strength Plan”
“So, You Want to be a Lion?”
Again, all of these titles are interesting and unique and the posts are long, in-depth and provide tons of value. T-Nation (www.t-nation.com) also does this very well:
“Iron Core: How to Build a Punch-Proof Body”
“A Lifter’s Guide to Alcohol”
You can even consider the ‘clickbait’ articles used to generate traffic via social media. These articles use titles like ‘You’ll Never Believe What This Mum Does Next… Shocking!” or they employ controversy. Either way, this makes the user curious and they want to click. You’re objective is to generate that same curiosity but then to deliver on the promise in the title by making sure your posts are actually as interesting and unique as they sound.
And keep in mind too that the point is eventually to convert your visitors into paying customers. To do that you need to gain their trust and you need to demonstrate your ability to provide value. Once again, the best strategy is clearly to create content that is interesting, unique and in-depth.
SEO and Other Ways to Market a Blog
So as an internet marketer, you’re using your blog in order to sell products of various descriptions, in order to generate clicks or otherwise to drive people to your business model.
So you’re using your blog as a marketing tool. But in order to do that, you need to market the blog itself as well.
One way you’ll do this no doubt is through SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization. SEO essentially allows you to promote your website through Google by ‘optimizing’ it for search. One way you do this is by adding lots of content to your blog, as this is what people will be searching for when they type something in.
At the same time, you want to make sure that it’s the right people who are finding you and that means that you should be including the important ‘keywords’ right in your content: phrases that people will likely search in order to find what it is that you’re offering.
So if you sell hats, then your ‘keyword’ might be ‘buy hats online’. You don’t want to repeat this phrase too often as it will make your site look like spam and it may get blacklisted. Instead then, aim to incorporate around 1-2% keyword density and to write naturally ‘around’ the subject as well. Posting lots of content is also a good move as is ensuring that your site loads quickly and works well on mobile – Google takes all these things into account.
The other aspect of SEO is building a ‘backlink profile’. That means making sure that there are lots of websites out there that are linking to you – and that those websites are relevant and high quality.
Other ways you can promote your website include building a large following on social media (once again, the key to success here is to make sure you’re providing vale) and to build a big mailing list so you can keep people coming back.
Other Business Models That Are Working
Indeed there are many other ways of making money online, and we only scratched the surface.
A few other models worth mentioning are:
Fiverr. This is essentially a marketplace where you can sell or buy services for five dollars. A few great success stories are from those offering web design, writing and administrative services.
Coaching. This is a huge industry where clients are willing to pay thousands for all sorts of coaching – spiritual, business, health, fitness and much more. If you have an expertise in a particular niche, then it’s worth taking a look at offering to coach others how to do the same.
Video marketing. There are people who are making a living from posting videos on YouTube. Monitization is usually made via Ads and sometimes even sponsorship. There are also people who intentionally create videos to get ranked at the top of the search engines and then drive those viewers to their website or affiliate link.
Lead generation. Companies are paying top dollar to get targeted leads to then convert to paying customers. You could become the “agent” who collects and builds the leads to then sell to these companies.
Conclusion and Summary
So there you have it: eight very effective internet marketing business models (and a few others mentioned) you can start using right away to generate an income from the comfort of your home. Many of these models are passive, meaning that you can generate money while you’re sleeping; others have the potential to scale to full sized businesses – anything is possible!
We’ve gone over an awful lot over the course of this book and have discussed a diverse range of different options.
For some readers, selling a product via eBay is going to be most appealing, while others might prefer the idea of becoming an affiliate.
Either way, the very core of every business model is the same. Your job is to provide value to a specific target audience and to make sure that you’re able to communicate directly with that audience in order to promote the product. At the same time, you need to ensure it costs you less to do this than you earn from the sales – which normally means that you have to somehow add your own value.
How to Proceed
At this point you may be suffering with a little overwhelm. With so many options and so many strategies, how do you know where to start?
And some of these models involve building up a highly successful blog – so you may find that off putting.
The trick then is to make sure you start with just one model first and to start small. The key early on is to start seeing results as soon as possible. As soon as you start generating any income, you’ll understand how the process works and you’ll open up new opportunities.
In other words, you’re not going to become a huge success overnight with a SaaS model – it’s just too much work.
But making a few bucks from selling some items on eBay? That’s super easy and highly doable. The same goes for generating some money from selling an affiliate product.
Don’t set out to change the world. In fact, don’t even set out to get rich! If you do, you’ll likely only be disappointed which more often than not leads to quitting. Instead, set out to just earn some money in a quick, safe and low-risk manner. Then set out to build on that success and to replicate the business model or add another string to your bow.
Take one step at a time and do what you need to do every day to eventually reach your goals!
Look at it this way: even if you only make $30 of sales a week for the rest of your life, that’s still $120 a month – or $1,440 a year! How much better would life be with that extra money? You could go on holiday guilt free!
Another tip? Always emulate the success stories. Over the course of this eBook we’ve looked at many cases of people who have been successful with these various business models whether it’s as an affiliate marketer or a blogger. Look at what they’ve done, study them carefully and repeat their model. Success always leaves clues and you can follow those clues to repeat the business model.
Likewise, don’t overcomplicate matters. If you do find a business model out there that works then there’s nothing wrong with copying it! Don’t make things harder than they already are because your pride gets in the way. Don’t choose to build your own PHP CMS when you could just use WordPress.
Some affiliate products that are selling very well will even give you the marketing materials that the creator used to generate their sales. This is the perfect ‘copy and paste’ business model because you’re literally taking what worked for them and doing the exact same thing within your sphere of influence. That’s great – it’s not breaking the mold but it’s easy and it works. Look for those easy wins!
There’s Much More!
Of course we’ve only really scratched the surface here as well in terms of what’s possible. There are countless more ways to earn money online as a marketer and there’s nothing to stop you from inventing your own methods either as you get more confident.
For instance, we barely touched on the option of selling your own services. If you’re a web designer, a writer, a life coach or a personal trainer then creating a website and marketing it is a great way to promote those skills. Or how about promoting the services of others? You can even get into online arbitrage – in other words, selling a service and then outsourcing the process to someone else for a lower fee.
We haven’t even touched on the use of ‘in-app purchases’ as another way to monetize a piece of software. And what about making money from video as a popular vlogger?
There are countless opportunities. So start with something simple to learn the ropes, then let your creative juices flow!
Your Action Plan
With all these different models available, it’s impossible to lay out one plan that will appeal to everyone. Generally though, these are the steps you should take…
1. Think over the different business models we’ve discussed. Assess your current situation, your contacts and any marketing you’ve done in the past and identify what will work best for you.
2. Choose products and a niche that you already know about and that you’re happy to work with.
3. At the same time, start as small as possible. Minimize the investment and the risk involved and focus on creating one small, easy business model that has been tried and tested.
4. This will normally involve finding an audience and providing value. That means finding your target market, finding a way to reach them and showing them the product.
5. Reinvest some of your profits into growing your business. That may mean investing in more marketing for your affiliate products, or it may mean investing in more inventory.
6. Build a website and grow it in order to generate your own audience. Eventually, this will become an excellent asset to you because it will provide you with your own, effective route to market.
7. Either repeat the business model that has worked for you (selling one affiliate product? Time to sell two!), or branch out into the next area.
8. Keep refining and perfecting your business model and keep on growing!
So what are you waiting for?
You’ve seen how easy it is – now go out there and start earning from one of these models!
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