In January 2003, I decided that I needed to have a website for my business. I knew nothing about design, hosting, databases, domain registration, etc. And had to teach myself all aspects of building a site thanks to searching online, trial and error, and W3schools. It took only a few months before I became fairly skilled and in about a year, people were calling on me for advice, design, and assistance with marketing their own sites. What a difference a year makes!
Let’s face it, the Internet is here to stay. It has changed the way we communicate, the way we research, and the way we do business. Luckily, technology is growing every day so you don’t have to suffer through learning how to code or do obnoxiously techie things, (unless you want to!) A ton of programs have been created to make your life much, much easier!
There are several ways of using the Internet to create income. Choosing the one that works for you takes a bit of finesse, but maybe one of the following options will appeal to you.
Ways to make money online:
Affiliate programs: this is where you have a website, you drive traffic to it, and then you sell other people’s products. Examples of this range from MSN (look for links to the Gap, etc) to marketing your own, or other people’s ebooks from Clickbank.com. Start your research by Googling “affiliate marketing” or invest in Coffee Shop Millionaire, a great “how to” for internet and affiliate marketing.
Website design: this takes time and effort and a bit of a learning curve. Believe it or not, the money is not in the design, it’s in the marketing. Anyone can put together a half-decent site, (heck, look at mine!) but not everyone knows how to market the website once it’s built! You can start by learning the ins and outs of WordPress, (a user-friendly platform for website creation–check out my friend Bob Dunn’s FREE tutorials at Bobwp.com) and you can get a good grasp on internet marketing basics from Dot Com Secrets.
Flipping Websites: If you don’t own a website, you can go to web brokers to buy, build, and flip other sites that had previous been developed for a profit. Flippa is a great resource to get you going.
Social Media: Small businesses give better customer service when they’re accessible beyond their website. You can learn how to manage Social Media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Don’t know where to start? For a great training program I recommend Let’s Get Social.
Selling your own products online: either through a traditional site, or through an auction house like Ebay, Etsy, Amazon, or Craigslist. The problem with this is that you’ll have to deal with inventory and shipping. A friend of mine earns extra income by finding old concert t-shirts at Goodwill, and then turns around to sell them on eBay. Since they’re collectibles, they sell fairly quickly! It’s just a matter of finding the right niche.
Selling subscriptions and memberships: if you have a knack for something, and like to write, you can sell subscriptions of your newsletter or create a membership based site. I have paid for memberships to various small business networking sites (Biznik.com and Meetup.com) and I also have paid for listings of artist grants. Again, it’s a matter of finding a niche that works for you, and then building an audience of willing subscribers.
Network Marketing: The Internet really lends itself to MLM and network marketing because you can do online training and conference calls with people all over the globe, and sell products directly from the warehouse, where your customers just punch in a code so that you get the credit. For this, you want to find a company that you really believe in. And make sure that you research the company thoroughly before signing up!
Using the internet is a relatively painless and inexpensive way to earn extra income. If you don’t know where to begin, check out recommended resources for various tools and programs to help narrow down your interests.
Before you jump into the internet waters however, make sure you fully develop your business plan and know your target audience. There’s no use in spending money on marketing or taking time to learn various programs, if you’re not willing to first plan out your business structure and goals.