(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
For years now, we've been giving to the Internet - whether we've been shopping, uploading stuff to sites, sending e-mails to public forums or talkback pages to protest this or that - and of course, giving out real money to the phone or cable company in order to pay for our connections to the virtual world.
Now it's time to take something back. How? By getting into an on-line business, and make some money! Surely you've seen the e-mail messages (read: spam) in your inbox, and wondered whether you, too, could get in on the gravy train. Of course, you would build a legitimate model, selling a legitimate product or service; we have to much self-respect to build an on-line pharmacy selling discount Pakistani meds to Americans, or Viagra wannabe treatments (although I hear say that the money there is pretty good!).
Fortunately, though, there are plenty of legitimate ways to make money on the Net, giving you a solid side income - and maybe even a new career, if you come up with the right idea! I want to make something very clear at the outset, though: I do not claim to be a major expert on Internet marketing - but that's the rationale behind this article. If you Google "Web site promotion techniques," you'll get thousands of hits with advice on what to do, or not. But when you review the information on the sites, you realize that much of the information is very general in nature, and a lot of the sites seem to have copied concepts or whole articles one from another (in fact, a lot of them probably got the same articles from a site like http://www.articlepillar.com/, which supplies free "filler" content to sites - not that there's anything wrong with that!). Most of these sites, I have found, urge you to sign up for advanced information - which sometimes is or is not worthwhile. And many of these sites, in addition, urge you to click on various links at external sites (with which they have affiliate deals) in order to get at more information - which may or may not be helpful.
My point is that for a beginner in this space, getting proper direction can be difficult. For the forest of Web sites that purport to help you to get into "the business," there is a relative dearth of trees where you can actually get useful ideas on what to actually do in order to make money - what kind of business to build, how and where to promote it, and how to actually make money from it. While there are definitely "gems" of information out there that will help you with different aspects of getting into the Internet business, many of the sites that offer to help you with your site's SEO (search engine optimization) actually want to sell you promotion services. Again, not that there's anything wrong with that; but an educated consumer is the best customer, and if you're a beginner in the area of trying to sell on the Internet or have never tried it before, there are some basic questions you need to answer before you lay out money for Web site design and pay someone to promote the site - such as, "is this an idea I can make money from?"
What's lacking is a business model for Web success from start to finish - starting with, "where do I begin?" If you're a beginner, that would be the place to start! And so, keeping in mind that I am not, as I mentioned an "expert" in the sense that the (seemingly) millions of SEO and promotion site webmasters are - but am someone who has dabbled in "real-life" Web promotion - I bring some ideas to the table that you may or may not find useful.
Product and/or service: Should you offer a product or a service? And if so, which one? This Web page (http://tinyurl.com/oo4f2), which lists the "Top 10 Dumbest Online Business Ideas That Made It Big Time," has been dug on Digg.com over 3,000 times - a pretty respectable number of diggs, and indicative of the heavy interest in figuring out how to make money on the Web. Hard to imagine some of the sites making the big money the author says they did - as in the millions generated by, for example, "doggles" (http://doggles.com/) - but there you have it.
Unfortunately for most of us, producing a product is a full budget, full time commitment - not for folks getting their first taste of marketing of any sort. Many people in the US make good money on Ebay, selling specialty items, and if you're willing to lay out for inventory (and, if you live in Israel, you have a place to store and ship your goods - international shipping and customs will probably price you out of the market), Ebay and other auction sites could provide a good income. Of course, whatever you're selling, you can be sure that thousands of others are selling as well. And unless the item you're selling is something that people will want on a regular basis (like a food item), you have to keep searching out new customers. Still, there are people in Israel who do have successful Ebay stores, as well as successful commercial sales sites, selling stuff to Israelis and/or Americans. But that route isn't one most newbies will want to take either.
It's a lot easier, cheaper - and potentially more lucrative - to set yourself up in the information business. Meaning, that you share with the world information about which you are passionate and/or knowledgeable. With easy to use blogging software at sites like http://www.blogspot.com, you could set yourself up with a blog - which, in essence, is an information distribution service - and work from there, using it as your springboard to fame and fortune. A blog can be just a blog, of course - but many blogs make big money for their writers, in a number of ways - and yours can, too.
A simple example of what I'm talking about can be seen at the site mentioned above (the one with the smart dumb business ideas) and its sister site (http://uncommonbusiness.blogspot.com/). Note how he weaves in recommendations for books related to the subject as part of his blog; if you click through on the link for the book, you'll see that you've credited his affiliate link with a click - with payment for the click through, and a commission on the book, if a referral from his site buys one. According to his Blogspot profile, the person who runs this site has a bunch of other sites sharing odd information about businesses, Web sites, and the computer business. Great idea! And while I didn't review all his sites, I would have to imagine he is actively promoting a few of them. And how would he (or you) go about promoting his "information business?" I'll give you the hard facts next time.
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