It is indeed possible to make money on the Internet

Tips for Entrepreneurs: Money isn’t destroyed or lost; it just moves to a different place. You need to as well.

Control room of Internet provider in Iran 311 (R) (photo credit: Caren Firouz / Reuters)
Control room of Internet provider in Iran 311 (R)
(photo credit: Caren Firouz / Reuters)
It’s hard to believe, but many people (alright I won’t call them “old fogies”) still see the Internet as a place to play games, get their news, share pictures, watch funny cat videos and sometimes use something remotely helpful called “e-mail.”
Those same people are the ones who you feel uncomfortable with when you say, “I sell products on Amazon.” You feel even worse, when explaining your job description: “I get paid to create virtual horses that feed on virtual hay in an online world...” Such explanations make people who don’t live on the Internet like you do think that you are out of your mind. They also think that you can’t possibly be making money doing that and wonder what you “really” do.
The secret of how to profit in a bad economy
The secret of profiting in a bad economy is: there is no secret! It’s only common sense and how economies work. The general economy may be bad, but it’s not like there’s no one out there profiting – because they are. Some are profiting in spite of the recession; others because of it.
The Internet is a lot like your local mall. There are shops of all kinds, with businesses that sell everything from syrup of ipecac (e-mail me if you know what that is – first response gets a free single-size serving!) to designer sweaters for pets.
Some stores survive and thrive and eventually grow into nationwide chains. Others succumb to bad planning or unfortunate circumstances beyond their control and need to close. Trust me, closing is never a fun thing to have to go through after all the effort you put into making a go of it.
So when someone says, “You can’t make money on the Internet, I’ve tried,” what they really mean is: “I can’t make money on the Internet doing [whatever they tried] in the fashion that I tried it and with the skills and budget that I had.”
However, saying that “the Internet” is not a place where you can make money is just as wrong just as saying that “Opening a business in the United States cannot be successful.” People who make that claim are projecting their own failures on the Internet. They’re claiming their particular and personal failure is a truer reflection of reality than the obviously millions of successful enterprises of all kinds who are flourishing.
The power of social media is in your grasp
Many folks talk about “social media” as though it was a whole new form of marketing. People chase it, thinking it is something new and different. What it really is, truth be told, is just another medium to advertise. It has inherent advantages and disadvantages. Like old-school marketing, it has ways for getting your friends to convince their friends to buy the same book or attend the same seminar that you are attending. Those “ways,” like word-ofmouth advertising, are essentially the same; they’re just digitally based, work faster and spread more quickly.
In other situations, old-school marketing can actually work better. I’d bet you get tons of e-mail newsletters every week; you read a few that you look forward to because of the sender or that come at just the right time when you have a moment to scan it... or because the headline and hook was so compelling that you just kept reading.
How much physical mail do you get these days? How much of the physical mail “junk” do you read? I’d venture a guess that an e-mail advertisement gets deleted far faster and with less thought than a physical one.
A proper combination of both online and off-line marketing can work wonders for a business in a way that simply digital advertising will not.
My advice for making money on the Internet
What’s my advice for making money on the Internet? Look carefully at who is making money and find the niche where you can too. Oh, and never give up. Please, if you are looking for opportunity to make money using the Internet in the same way your local mall does, with foot traffic, then don’t be discouraged if you haven’t been successful. You may be in the wrong business or simply focusing on the wrong angle or product.
This economy is a gold mine in so many ways. Customers of existing businesses are much more sensitive to price or perks than ever before. Family ties or long-standing arrangements aren’t the “etched in stone” agreements they once were. Established, long-time arrangements are much more open to new approaches, new contacts and new businesses precisely because of the economic turmoil.
Luxury stores are mostly hurting because of the financial crises. But the lower-end shops that normally pick up the slack or capture the crumbs of the luxury trade actually have more customers coming in because of it. Many shoppers went from buying expensive organic fruit to eating regular fruit. They opted from buying the more expensive free-roaming-chicken eggs to buying eggs made by animals that live in wire condos, just to save money.
At the same time, the super-luxury shops are making more money because those that are making a mint during the recession are willing to spend even more. Stores and manufacturers find they have lower expenses because they can pay less to vendors or negotiate a lower rent because of less demand for commercial space and goods.
So break out of the negative patterns of thinking and use this column as your springboard: What will YOU change starting from right now to profit off the recession?
When the family goes out to eat, are they eating more pizza and less-fancy dinners out? If you’re in the pizza business, then chances are you’re making more than the fancy restaurants. Are you using a different mobile provider or bank, or are you shopping more at the supermarket instead of at the corner market? Renting something instead of buying it? Ka-ching! Someone’s making money that they weren’t making when the economy was healthy.
Think of it in scientific terms: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Energy, or money, isn’t destroyed or lost; it just moves to a different place. That is what is happening in the economy. The money and opportunities just moved, so you need to as well.
Get my point? Good. I knew you would!
Now go out there and make it happen. I’m rooting for you!
Issamar Ginzberg is a rabbi, businessman, public speaker and marketer.