So you want to get started with internet marketing?
But where do you begin?
There are literally thousands of ways to make money online, but what way should YOU choose?
This is an important question because the way that I’ve made money online might not work for you.
Understanding this point is CRITICAL for long-term success.
Because the process just takes so damn long.
If you choose a path that you hate, the chance of failure goes up quite a bit.
Most folks who get started fail because they simply give up, the motivation runs dry, they lose that spark.
Often this will result in the feeling of failure and/or they picked the wrong idea, etc, when in reality they didn’t give the process the time it needs to fully realize and become something.
If you pick the right path that would do well given your lifestyle, personality, or preference, the chance of success goes up tremendously!
If you’re new to internet marketing I HIGHLY encourage you to read this whole post and watch the associated video I have above. Hell, even if you’re experienced, I’d recommend you through this post to get a sense of my personal views of the internet marketing landscape.
With that out of the way, let’s get into your options.
Ways To Make Money Online
When it comes to making money online there are literally thousands of ways.
The internet has opened up a treasure trove of possibilities, which is great on one hand…
…but then a nightmare when deciding where the hell to start.
This creates “analysis paralysis” and a tendency to want to consume every guide, article, and opinion in an effort to make an informed decision on where to start.
In theory, this makes sense right?
But when the amount of things to read never ends… when do you begin?
That’s where Digital Business Prep comes into play.
With my 3.5 years of experience in the trenches building websites, I’m here to be your filter to sort through the mountains of information to provide you with what you need to know succeed and nothing more.
How am I going to do this?
Lots of over the shoulder videos on what successful internet marketers are doing to drive results TODAY!
Some questions I’ll be answering are…
- How to build a website to sell your product (regardless of what it is)
- How to increase conversions and sell more products on an existing website (i.e., what should be the layout of your website to maximize sales?)
- How to build a successful YouTube channel
- How to pick a product to sell in the first place
- How to sell services online (like dentists, lawyers, etc)
- How to build landing pages, write convincing copy, and create profitable sales funnels
- And much MUCH more…
If you read the above and thought, “I don’t know ANY of that stuff!” or “I already know ALL of that stuff!”, I have strategies and guides that’ll benefit all skill levels.
Again, that’s my mission here…
To distill the information that you NEED to know and provide guides only on what WORKS and ignore everything else.
What that said… let’s kick things off.
First off… I want to establish a baseline understanding of how people are currently making money online and findings success. This will provide a nice foundation for both you (the reader) and me (the teacher) to ensure we’re both on even ground.
For the purposes of simplification and to help narrow your focus, I’ll be outlining the following 5 main types of ways to make money online:
- Google (SEO) (The Best For Beginners)
- YouTube (2nd Best For Beginners)
I specifically picked these 5 because they are objectively the most accessible for just about anyone willing to learn and take the time to understand the platforms.
Are there other ways to make money?
Of course, but my intent is to maintain FOCUS not bombard you with absurd amounts of information, which will ultimately lead most people to frustration and even worse…. inaction.
Keep reading for more detail on each.
The first on my list is the one I have the most experience with personally and the one I recommend most people begin their internet marketing careers.
SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” is the practice of optimizing a website in such a way that it makes it easy for search engines (e.g., Google, Bing, etc) to read and index allowing its users to find and consume the content you’ve created.
When you make a website, without doing anything else, search engines will attempt to index your site.
Of course, if you do not optimize your site they’ll have a hard time understanding what your site is trying to convey.
If you DO optimize it with search engines in mind and abide by SEO best practices, this can be a very fruitful method of making money online.
The key to understand here is that Google, Bing, and the rest of the search engines only provide the TRAFFIC aka users visiting your site.
You still need to create a method for you to make MONEY.
This is where offers come into play.
Without going into too much detail (I will in future articles) there are three main ways people monetize their sites with traffic generated by Google.
Those methods are:
- Display Ads (Some Effort): Google gives you a code to put on your website that will display ads from advertisers (e.g., other people who have paid Google). Display ads are by far the easiest, lowest effort method of generating revenue from a website. The only issue is that you need a TON of traffic to make any sort of living from it. A good return is between $5-15/1,000 page views. It can take you 6-8 months of work before you’d be hitting that mark.
- Affiliate Links (More Effort): You sign up for a program and promote someone else’s product or service. When that other person buys the product or service you get a commission. This method takes a good bit of effort because you need to research the product to ensure you’re making a good recommendation and align it with the interests of the traffic your getting.
- Personal Product/Service (The Most Effort): You create a product or sell a service directly to consumers. This takes the most effort because you need to come up with the product and convert the customer, but offers the greatest opportunity to make money!
Another method of making money online is by establishing an e-commerce website and listing products to sell to customers who visit.
A good example of an e-commerce website is the biggest player in the world… Amazon.
They have e-commerce down to such a science, that they regularly convert a visiting customer at about a 10-15% rate.
When compared to a normal (non-Amazon) eCommerce property, you’re looking at a 2-3% conversion rate, which is GOOD.
And when I mean “converting” I’m referring to a single person coming to your shop, browsing your selection, adding to cart, then completing checkout.
Also, something worth noting is that simply having an e-commerce store doesn’t do anything.
You’ll still need traffic or else no one will know your store exists…
Typically, people fill this need by buying ads from Google or Facebook.
This then gets into retargeting and email marketing and other more advanced methods of driving traffic that can help increase your conversion percentage.
See below for a couple of ad examples from both platforms.
Amazon is an interesting one.
Given the fact that they’ve built an e-commerce empire there is an entire sect of internet marketers making money by leveraging their platform.
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): Where you set up shop directly on Amazon, listing your products, and sending your goods directly to Amazon to ship to customers when they place an order on Amazon’s website. This method grants the seller the ability to sell to “Prime” customers (all 100 million of them).
- Amazon Associates Program: Instead of selling your own product, you upsell someone else’s and link to Amazon as an affiliate and get a commission ranging from 2-8% of the product’s price. As mentioned in the Google (SEO) section, affiliate links are a great way to make money an Amazon has a great program.
Now you may be thinking… I can sell directly on Amazon and take advantage of their great conversion rates and e-commerce “king” status… great sign me up!!!
Well… yes that’s great BUT (and there’s a big but)
Amazon is NOTORIOUS for changing the rules of the game fairly often.
From an FBA perspective, there are reports that they monitor the sales of certain sales categories and copy products that are doing well and list their own products above others siphoning prospective customers and leaving less business on the table for the original entrepreneur.
From an affiliate perspective, Amazon just recently changed the commission percentages paid out to its affiliates. Given its wide-spread effect on internet marketers, it was dubbed, Amazongeddon.
For some folks, this change cut profits in half overnight.
When you’re playing on someone else’s platform, you’re always increasing your business’s exposure to these types of risks.
But despite the risks… Amazon is STILL a great place to be to make money online, but you should include it as apart of a comprehensive business model not a sole source of income.
Did you know YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world?
It’s crazy to think that one company (Google) owns the #1 AND #2 places people turn to search for answers.
Given this fact, YouTube has been a place where many folks have turned to create entire businesses.
By accumulating hundreds, thousands, sometimes millions of subscribers, normal people are able to accumulate enough of an audience to turn healthy profits.
But similar to Google and SEO, YouTube should be looked at as a source of traffic and/or a place to build a following. Personally, I like to think of YouTube as a tool in my arsenal to accumulate an audience around a particular subject matter or more commonly referred to as a “niche” audience.
Once you’ve established a following by producing high-quality videos you can pretty much direct them to do anything you want because you’ve established a line of trust. This process does take a considerable amount of time and energy, however.
Most people that I know who have found success on YouTube have been producing videos every week consistently for a year straight before things took off.
But once you’ve gained traction and YouTube starts suggesting your videos to more and more people, things can really take off and doors start opening up.
For example, you can make money in a multitude of ways such as…
- Display Ads: YouTube has its own display ad system built into its platform that pays out based on views. Similar to Google Ads, you’re going to need a TON of views before you’ll start to accumulate any sort of real cash flow. But once you have the views, this can add up quickly.
- Product Offers: Once you’ve established an audience in a specific niche you then have an opportunity to present a relevant product offer to them. For example, if you have a YouTube channel about men’s fashion, you could present an offer for a shirt you had manufactured, or shoes you want to sell. A popular men’s blogger I Am Alpha M, got his start on YouTube I think around 2008-2009 and has now accumulated over 3.7 million subscribers. A couple years ago he launched a hair product brand and more recently he just launched a skincare brand for men all on the back of his YouTube channel.
- Affiliate Links: Similar to Google SEO mentioned above, you can upsell products made by other people and take a commission by linking to them in your video description. Alternatively, you can send your audience to your website and have them click your links there.
- Sponsorships: The last popular way to make money with YouTube is through direct sponsorships with brands. Again, because you’ve gained the trust of your subscribers, other businesses are EXTREMELY eager to pay you money to promote their products. This is called influencer marketing and is still very much in its infancy. Going back to I Am Alpha M, he regularly accepts paid sponsorships and even has someone representing him to negotiate the offers!
Don’t all these ways to make money on YouTube just get you excited!?
Of course, when you develop your audience, keeping their trust is pivotable in maintaining a strong channel. Just because you have 3.7 million subscribers doesn’t mean you should sell them everything under the sun.
If you want them to be loyal you need to qualify every offer you get and vet the products. When a business comes to you and offers you $2,000 to promote a crappy product, will you take them up on it?
Or will you pass because you know your audience would lose trust in your opinion?
These are types of things that go into making a successful channel.
For the last section, I wanted to add a couple “honorable mentions” that can be a source to make money online but are not my recommended methods for those who are just getting started.
Not because they aren’t good options, but because of the amount of work you’d need to put in as well as the associated risk of building an asset on someone else’s platform.
Admittedly, this is a source of internet spoils I am less familiar with, but it does have some serious potential to help you build a highly engaged audience.
Although I have had some success with Instagram by upselling my e-commerce products, others folks I know have been killing it with sponsored posts.
Similar to YouTube and Google (SEO), you’re going to have to put in a lot of time and energy into producing quality posts and networking with other already established influencers to grow your following through cross-postings.
And even still you’re going to need 100,000 followers before your Instagram starts to become large enough to begin attracting brands for sponsorships.
One of the main drawbacks of Instagram is how difficult it is to get users to leave the platform. This is mostly because there is only one spot you can place a clickable link (in the biography).
And if people aren’t leaving the platform, they aren’t buying products or seeing your ads, which doesn’t make you any money.
Overall, Instagram is great for engagement but terrible at driving traffic to specific offers away from the platform (i.e., your website).
Something that’s grown wildly in popularity over the last 5 years is podcasting.
How it works is that you’d get a microphone, a co-host possibly, and pick a topic that is inline with a product offering you have.
You’ll record your shows to an MP3 then upload them to a hosting company (Libsyn, Soundcloud, etc).
The way to grow here is to leverage other platforms like iTunes to syndicate your content and get it in front of a wider audience of people who might be interested in listening to it.
The keys to growth are dialing in a specific niche topic and then getting lots of reviews.
Once your podcast starts ranking and people begin finding it, you’ll get subscribers and downloads. This is when you can start informing your audience about products you sell or take on sponsorships from businesses to make money.
Because there is a lot of infrastructure involved and tools needed, I wouldn’t recommend a podcast until you’ve developed an audience somewhere else (like on YouTube or your website via an email list) that could help support it out of the gate.
Final Thoughts & My Recommendation
So I’ve gone through a bunch of methods of making money online.
Personally, I think building a website, mastering Google, and develop the skills needed to properly optimize a site for search engines is the best place to start for just about anyone. If you feel really comfortable in front of a camera, I would also encourage you to create a YouTube channel alongside your site.
(hint: this is actually what I am doing for Digital Business Prep!)
This works because it should take you about 1-2 years to develop the skills needed to become proficient in SEO. During that time you’ll be exposed to the other elements of internet marketing allowing you to make a more informed decision about how to market yourself and your website next.
By building a site first and getting your SEO right, you create a strong foundation to then expand into other areas of making money and developing your business.
It’s important that you don’t want to start TOO MANY things because you run the risk of burnout and spreading your resources thin. If you start a website, an Instagram, a podcast, and a YouTube channel all at the same time I guarantee you that you’ll end up giving up before any of those channels become something.
How do I know?
Because I made that mistake when I first started out.
EVEN IF your content is amazing and people really value what you’re creating it just takes time for things to gain traction. Focusing on 1 MAYBE 2 channels MAX will result in a much higher likelihood of project success.
Once a site is established and ranking for keywords relevant to its niche, you can branch out into other forms of traffic generation and monetization (e.g., Instagram, Podcasting, Pinterest, etc) in a way that’s smart and more strategic.