First, there’s so many different ways to earn a great part or full-time income online. What we’ve outlined & cover in this article is not even “the tip of the iceberg” – however we need to start somewhere & hence this is Part 1 in a series that we’ll release covering the exciting world of generating an income online!
Side Note: Keep an eye out for our series of special guest interviews! We’ll be chatting with successful work from home & location independent entrepreneurs from all around the world to learn about how they got started building their online business.
How to Make Money Online – The Basics
If you ask “how to make money online”, you’re generally going to hear one of two things. You’re going to hear people telling you that you can’t make money online. That all the good topics and business models are taken up. However, that’s untrue.
You’re also going to hear people who will promise you that you can make millions online. While that is true for many, it’s not common. What is true about making money online is that anything is possible, and it’s quite likely that you can make a very comfortable living doing something that you love. So here’s the lowdown on how to make money online.
What Makes Money Online?
There are a few basic business models that generally achieve a good deal of success online. They include…
Information Marketing: Information is sold online, generally about a specialty topic. Think reports, eCourses, training programs, membership sites, newsletters & so much more all fit in here.
Membership Marketing: Profit is made by selling memberships and selling advertising space. Membership sites offer a brilliant recurring income model.
Service Provider: Profit is made by providing a service. Freelancers of sorts from writers, editors, SEO, copywriters, programmers ..through to coaches, consultants, virtual assistants.. the list is almost endless of services you can provide & get paid for.
Online Retailer or eCommerce: Profit is made by selling a product online. Shopify, Woo commerce and Big Commerce all allow small players to simply start from home without complicated set up processes & sell products (physicals & digital) to almost anyone around the world.
Affiliate Marketing: Profit is made by promoting the products or services of others and earning a commission. This has to be one of my favorite methods – with no stock required & no customer support.
There are a few things these five business models have in common. They all operate online – that’s a given because we’re talking about how to start online business, work from home and make money. They also all need a steady supply of people to visit their website in order to survive. How do they get people to their website?
Content is the unifying theme behind successful websites. People go online to be entertained, to be informed, to connect and communicate. The single unifying thread for all of these interactions is content.
Content can be read, watched, listened to and shared. It can be an article, a blog post, a report, a book, an online course, a video or an audio. Without content a website doesn’t stand a chance. Information is the reason for the internet. If a website doesn’t provide information, it has no value to online users.
Okay, so you choose your business model. You choose a business topic or specialty; this is often called a niche. A niche is a specialty topic. For example, you could decide you want to start a membership site. Great – about what? Recipes, because you love to cook and share recipes. Fantastic! Now it’s time to create the content for your website. You need to give people a reason to visit your website and become a member. The next step is to continue to provide value. What are you going to offer your members to motivate them to stay members?
What information are you going to provide as an information marketer that will motivate people to buy your books? What information can you provide clients to motivate them to hire you as a service provider?
Online, regardless of the model you choose, people want to know one thing: “What is in this for me? How will this benefit me?” Choose your topic and model wisely. Create fantastic content and provide value. That’s the core of any successful online business.
Selling Products with an eCommerce Website
An eCommerce website is a site that sells a wide range of products in a shopping-cart style manner. For example, Amazon is the largest eCommerce website on the planet, and what started with an emphasis on books now covers household items, electronics, apparel & so much more.
With an eCommerce website, you’re generally selling physical products online. Most markets are fairly competitive, so make sure you either have a foot in the door, know the market, or are targeting a small enough market such that you believe you can compete in it.
Here’s how to get started with setting up an eCommerce website.
Merchant Accounts, Payment Processing & eCommerce Platforms
To get your merchant account, you need to incorporate and get a Federal Tax ID (FID) or Employee Identification Number (EIN).
Launch your site as soon as you get your first merchant account, but in general you should also have a back-up merchant account. The graveyards of web businesses are littered with sites that had their merchant accounts frozen for one reason or another and had to shut down as a result.
Choose an eCommerce platform that works best with what you’re looking to create – Shopify, Woo Commerce & Big Commerce all offer great solutions. My personal favorite is Shopify and close second is Woo Commerce, they both have their advantages & disadvantages. If you’re a non techie person with limited internet skills then go with Shopify, it has great training & support to help beginners get started.
Make sure the back-end system works with your merchant account. Often times you’ll need to set up a payment gateway using PayPal, Stripe, Square & Authorize.net (and/or combinations of them) between your eCommerce platform and your merchant account. Shopify, Woo Commerce & Big Commerce all work with those payment gateways/merchant accounts.
Managing Inventory – Warehousing, SKU Set-Up and Drop Shipping
There are two ways to run the fulfillment side of an eCommerce website: through drop shipping and through warehousing.
The benefit of drop shipping is that it’s easier to set up. All you need to do is pass the orders along to your drop shipper and you’re done. You don’t have to set up a warehouse, stock up to the minimum order or process returns.
The drawback to drop shipping is that it cuts into your profits. Every product that’s drop shipped is charged a drop shipping fee. At some point this fee will significantly outweigh the cost of warehousing and shipping yourself; at which point you can bring your shipping in house.
Regardless of what you choose, you’ll have to set up product ID numbers for each and every product in your inventory. These are registered as SKUs in your eCommerce software.
Tips for Increasing Revenues
There are a few things every eCommerce website should do to increase revenues:
Suggest other items: If someone is buying a fishing rod, wouldn’t they like to receive fishing hooks with that?
Track disposable items: If someone bought supplement pills good for 30 days, a follow-up email with a discount 35 days later could have great results.
Upsell: After someone has checked out, offer them more products to purchase.
Checkout integration: Make sure your checkout page looks like it’s a part of your website, rather than as if they’re going to a completely separate page. Make sure the color scheme, logo and header match. Shopping cart drop-out rates can be as high as 50% if the shopping cart is poorly configured.
An eCommerce website can be hugely successful, with virtually no limit on the volume of sales you can do, unlike a physical store. Make sure you have a great eCommerce system set up, get your fulfillment system down pat and you’ll be ready to launch your first eCommerce site.
Drop Shipping on eBay Explained
One of the easiest ways to get started on eBay is drop shipping. Drop shipping is when you have the manufacturer or wholesaler ship directly to the buyer without having to ship it to you in between. You don’t have to hold inventory, you don’t have to order large amounts from a wholesaler and you save a lot of time and effort all around.
How does drop shipping work? Where do you find drop shippers? What are the pros and cons? Keep reading to find out.
The Pros and Cons of Drop Shipping
The main benefit of drop shipping is that it lets you get a leg into the industry. It allows you to start shipping to customers without having to go through many of the hassles that ordinarily come with buying from wholesalers.
You also get the benefit of having wholesalers take care of all the shipping for you. They’ll package everything, put all the postage labels and ship it for you. They’ll often also process refunds and restock refunded items.
There are drawbacks, however.
Drop shipping cuts into your profits. Drop shippers charge a drop-shipping fee. In the beginning, this fee is worth paying because of all the hassles it’ll save you. However, in a low-margin industry as eBay often is, it’s very difficult to compete with competitors who aren’t paying that drop shipping fee.
At some point in your eBay career it will become cheaper to warehouse and ship yourself. When that time comes, make the transition.
Where to Find Wholesalers Who Drop Ship
Finding drop shippers can be a little tricky. There are many scams in the industry. These usually come in the form of people trying to sell you drop shipper lists, which are almost always bogus.
There are two primary ways to find drop shippers.
One method is to use an eBay-certified drop shipper directory. Unlike other lists, these lists have to adhere to very strict quality guidelines about the listings in their directories. One such directory is Worldwide Brands.
The second method is to subscribe to trade journals and industry magazines. These are the magazines where wholesalers and manufacturers will often advertise. Call up wholesalers and ask if they drop ship.
In the past, very few wholesalers drop shipped. But as the internet grew in popularity, many now realize how much more business they can get by catering to lower-volume online merchants.
Go directly to the source by using industry journals and magazines for the market you want to get into. That way, you’re also competing with fewer other marketers – provided you can find a niche that isn’t in other drop-shipping directories.
In short, drop shipping on eBay takes less effort and money to get started than buying wholesale. It does cut into your profits a bit, but that can be remedied in time. Find your drop shippers by using eBay-certified directories or by looking at ads in trade journals.
Note: One of the massive benefits of starting drop shipping on eBay (or Amazon for that matter – dropshipping is legal on its platform & easy to get started with as well) is that they both have a marketplace of ready & willing buyers who trust the platform. Trust is essential for online sales to occur. You’ll still need to promote your listings, don’t expect eBay or Amazon to do that for you!
5 Ways To Start Generating Sales Online
Once your site or listings are live you’ll need to focus on getting traffic & converting that traffic into sales & growing your business. Most people think the internet is just a way to target worldwide customers, but it can also be used very effectively for getting local sales & business as well! There’s an absolute gold mine in your own back yard (city) just waiting to be tapped into.
It doesn’t matter if your doing drop shipping or selling a service – start locally first! Start by sharing your business URL with your family, friends, co-workers & on your social media profiles. Let me people know its your new business & you’d love their support. Ask them if they know anyone who’d benefit from your business – offer a small reward if one of their referrals makes a purchase.
So how do you generate area specific customers from using the net? There are a few methods that work. Here are five of the best:
#1) Google My Business (commonly known as GMB, and formerly known as Google Local and Google Places)
Business.google.com is essentially an “area specific” search engine. When somebody uses it, they just type in the business you are looking for, such as “grocery stores.” Then the map will pinpoint the grocery stores in their area.
You don’t even need a website to appear here. As long as Google knows about your business, you will appear on the map. Google will also list your address and phone number. Here’s instructions for adding your business https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778
How many people use Google My Business?
More than fifty million people do so every month. Therefore, it’s easy to see why this would be a good place to target.
The smaller search engines like Bing and Yahoo have their own version as well. It would be a good idea to get listed with them as well. However, Google is the most important, because the vast majority of people use it for local searches.
You’ll be absolutely surprised how many people “search & shop locally” online! Our minds always think that orders need to come from far flung places. Totally incorrect. People love supporting local business owners – even those whose business is 100% online.
#2) SEO (stands for Search Engine Optimization)
Despite the fact that Google My Business is so popular, tons of people continue using Google.com for their local searches. For this reason, you will want to do an SEO campaign as well, targeting only area specific keywords. For instance, if you are a plumber living in Dallas, you would probably want to rank #1 for “Dallas TX plumbers.”
How do you get to the #1 spot?
You will need links pointing to you website. The more links you have, the better. Not all links are created equal.
There are basically two kinds of links: one way and reciprocal. Reciprocal links are where you agree with somebody else to link to their site, as long as they link to yours. This used to be very effective, but that is no longer the case.
Why are one way links the best?
This is because Google knows if another website links to yours without getting anything in return, your site must be quality.
Where should you get one-way links?
Article, directory, forum and blog links are among some of the best sources out there to get started with. For many terms, focusing exclusively on these sites will get you ranked.
#3) PPC Advertising
Pay per click campaigns allow you to geo-target you campaigns. This allows you to specify which locations you want to show up for.
For instance, if you target the geo-target the keyword “used kayaks” to only Maine, you will only appear when people in Maine search for that term. If somebody from California types in the same keyword, you won’t appear. In other words, even though it doesn’t have the word “Maine” in the keyword, you will still only appear when local people search for it.
#4) Facebook Advertising
The best way to get started using Facebook ads is to create a Facebook Fan Page for your online business. Its free to create Facebook Fan Page and you’ll find excellent virtual assistants on Fiverr who can help you put together a great looking page for less than $100.
Start by posting content from your blog or website, if you don’t have either of those then write something & share pictures of your products/services. Remember focus on the benefits your likely customers are going to get from your products/services. Take a look at what your competitors are on their Facebook Fan Pages.
One of the simplest & most used ways to get started advertising on Facebook is to boost some of those posts – called “Boost Post”. It’s an easy yet effective way to increase the reach of your post. The boosted post is shown to Facebook users in their News Feed. You choose the targeting options to make your post visible to the right people.
#5) YouTube Advertising
Same with YouTube the best way to get maximum value from it is to first create a YouTube channel. Its free and simple to get a YouTube channel set up & going. You’ll find plenty of YouTube wizards on Fiverr. Again, for less than $100 you can have a great looking YouTube channel set up.
You’ll need to link your YouTube Channel with Google Ads to get started with paid advertising and obviously you’ll need to create a video advertisement to run. Super easy to do and you’ll find great people who can help you on Fiverr.
Alternatively, YouTube has become a popular search engine of sorts unto itself, with many people using it instead of searching on Google. They prefer to watch videos that help them learn something, solve a problem or help understand something better.
Spend some time doing careful keyword research and see what your competitors are doing on YouTube. Then get an article created around those keywords. Gather together some pictures and use some simple to use software like Vidnami (highly recommend you grab their YouTube SEO Cheat-Sheet) and create your own videos. You can share those videos across all your social media accounts, not just YouTube.
There’s so many other ways to generate sales online from digital advertising, social media, content & video marketing and even from your local online classifieds & directories sites like Craigslist in your city. If you’re looking for more tactics then please read “6 Digital Marketing Tactics to Increase Your Sales“.
The bottom line is, if you aren’t advertising your online business on a daily basis you’re going to find it very difficult to generate regular sales and income from your business. Hopefully these five tips will help you get started!
In Part 2 of our “How to REALLY Make Money Online” series we’re going to cover starting a Print-On-Demand (POD) eCommerce store & a Dropshipping store using Shopify or Woo Commerce – no eBay or Amazon required!