How to plan your online marketing venture. Before you undertake the task of starting an online enterprise it is important to have an idea of what options you have. There are really no rules and no limits except your imagination, as long as you’re ethical and within the legal boundries of business practices. However, there are certain logical and successful business models that currently exist which you can base your business upon.
You may choose to incorporate more than just one of these business approaches or all of them, but by developing a strong foundation in one area you will increase the likelihood of success in your future online experience. This post will outline the different ways you can generate money on the web.
First of all, it is important to note that in order for you to make any kind of an income in any type of system, something has to be purchased by someone, sometime, somewhere. Free programs, for example, abound and many people dismiss them because they are suspicious of something which is free.
These free programs may very well be free, but they usually are supported by being exposed to and exposing others to advertisements paid by a sponsor. This is a very powerful principle that keeps the majority of internet entities going. More on this later, but for now an outline of the top ways to make an income from your computer.
I will briefly describe each approach. It is up to you to decide what you believe to be the best fit for you and most suited to your strengths and talents. Also, many of these business models overlap. For instance, as a blogger you may sell advertising space on your blog, directly sell your coaching services, and recommend several other products that you indirectly represent as an affiliate.
Ways to Make Money Online:
This is when you are selling your product. It may be clothing, handmade jewelry, artwork, or almost anything. This is when you are the seller and take payments directly. You handle the product delivery, money exchange, and customer service. The buck truly stops with you.
Selling something for somone else as a referral:
This is when you create an arrangement with a seller to promote their product and get a commission in doing so. This may be set up in a number of ways; by a handshake, a unique link or a tracking system. Usually a sophisticated tracking system is used that is encoded with your information to keep track of the money you have earned by the sales generated by your links. This leads to the next form of marketing online which is affiliate marketing.
Probably the most lucrative way to make money online, as well as the easiest to get started. That does not mean easy to make a fortune overnight or easy to learn all there is to know, but relatively easy to grasp the basics and begin to see a profit in a short period of time. This is when you receive a commission by promoting a product or service via ads, links, banners, etc. You can join an affiliate network that specializes in this or you can become a direct affiliate of a company. Almost all retail companies and most business or tech web entities offer such programs.
You probably weren’t looking for it before, but usually somewhere near the bottom of the homepage of these sites there will be a link with information about how to become an “affiliate” or “associate” or “partner”. Many people think it is beyond their own expertise to be an affiliate for say Target, Walmart, Amazon, or Bass Pro Shops; but it is in their best interest to have people promoting their wares and they are more than willing to take affiliates on for free if you follow the terms of service (TOS) of that program. This is not limited to retail giants either, web services, hosting companies, and many other businesses offer these programs.
This is very self explanatory and one of the earliest ways people started generating an online income. Ebay, of course is the best known service. This may be done by selling your own possessions and handling the shipping yourself or by using a drop-shipping service, whereby you are only handling the orders and a third party supplier ships the product.
Maintaining a weblog or blog and monetizing it.This requires extensive explanation but suffice it to say the other forms of web commerce can be incorporated into your blogging efforts. Niche blogging is a term for zeroing in on a specific topic, like “fishing” and promoting fishing related products on the blog via links or ads that you would get a share of the commission.
Selling Ad Space:
This is when your website is well known, high ranked, or heavily trafficked enough for others to want to place their ads or banners in designated areas on your site. This is much like ads in a newspaper or magazine and the profit is dependant upon the readership or number of eyes that may see the ads.
Displaying ads on a commission per click basis:
This is a form of passive income, however, it takes time to set up and be in a position to generate any revenue. This is when you own a blog or website and agree to display ads on your site. Google AdSense is a prime example of this model at work. If your site receives a significant amount of traffic some of this traffic may happen to see the ads displayed and click them thereby giving you a percentage.
Performing web work, writing or tech support and contracting your services:
This can range anywhere from designing websites and blogs to being a virtual assistant for an arranged fee and exchanging the said monies through a third party pay service like Paypal, your own shopping cart, or the pay system of the site your working through. This is probably the most abundant type of internet commerce on both sides; those offering and those seeking. As always you will have to promote and make an effort to get this kind of work. A good place to start would be somewhere like Elance.
Also refered to as “Direct Selling”. Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) originated offline with companies such as Amway, Avon, Mary Kay, etc. It relies on recruiting other people into your business and being compensated by such recruitment and by the sales of whatever the companies’ products happen to be. Tread carefully before deciding on a company to join as thousands of startups bite the dust or face legal issues regardless of the talent and promotion behind them. It is best to do a lot of research and make sure there is support and training and above all a product or service people want at a fair price.
This is kind of a broad term but in this case I mean the selling of information people want in the form of info-products or ebooks (electronic books). Wherever there is a hunger or thirst for knowledge of a subject there is an opportunity to quench it with the right instruction manual, book, course etc. The explosion of readers made by Google, Amazon, and Kindle prove this.
Becoming a web personality:
This one is hard to define really, but much like the movies or television there are those on the internet who have created a following and made a name for themselves. Some are funny characters, some are tech-savvy sages who dispense wisdom, and some are just themselves. There are various channels of being compensated financially either directly or indirectly by being a popular web personality. Many YouTubers have profit sharing with the site, Twitter has spawned many internet stars; also Pete Cashmore of Mashable fame, and Gary Vaynerchuk of WineLibraryTV, the list goes on and on.
Using the web to bring added exposure to a conventional offline business:
This would not really be considered making money online, however, you can certainly increase whatever offline business you have by means of internet promotion. This is not only a recommendation but an absolute necessity now. Not having some kind of web presence to promote a bricks and morter business does not make good business sense.
All of these models are legitimate ways to make money online and operate a business and I’m sure there are many other ways. As with any business it takes diligence, dedication, focus, and time. Some people make money immediately and for others it takes a while but it will take consistent attention no matter who you are or what anybody tells you.
Luckily many of the obstacles regarding technical aptitude are not a huge factor anymore, but it is important to gain a running understanding of the basics. You should learn the terminology of web marketers which will further increase your understanding and ability to adapt to new trends and techniques. It is equally important to become comfortable with the basic technical principles of setting up links, webpages, attracting leads, and the usual everyday actions involved.
As with any business online or offline, the lifeblood of that business is its reputation and customer base. Usually the term traffic or web visitors is the biggest concern for any web marketer. Just as if you owned a gift shop you would need people to come in your store. It would be naive to state that it is not a numbers game, but that does not mean to treat your clients like a number. It is this distinction that will determine your future success.
You must learn to convert traffic to sales and be accountable and available to those customers who buy from you. If you are, then you can count on more repeat customers and business longevity. As for affiliate programs you may not be held completely accountable to customers who are referred through one of your links. However, it is still a reflection on your name and reputation as to what you recommend or display on a webpage you own.
As an online business owner and practitioner you are entitled to the same advantages extended to an offline business. Whether it is your intention to make more money than you ever dreamed of or just to make some extra money to make ends meet, you are still operating a business so treat it as such. Keep records of your expenditures and profits and consult with professionals about any deductions available.
I hope this introduction to internet marketing was helpful. It is meant to provide you with an overview and foundation to marketing online. Future posts will probably not be this long and detailed, however, they will provide a wealth and variety of information. Most of the focus will be on marketing techniques, current trends in technology, social media, business options, tools, recommendations, and the occassional inspiration.