The web is the great equalizer. In business specifically, it has leveled the playing field. Anyone can start a money-making online business anyone with a computer, that is. But here’s the thing: virtually no technical experience is needed. Today there are plenty of tools you can use to build an online business that makes the technical work a lot easier than it was in the past. You can also live anywhere you want, set your own schedule, and work as little or as much as you want, depending on how fast or big you want your business to grow. No business or marketing experience is needed either. It’s a truly democratic medium for entrepreneurship.
Let’s consider four of the top ways to start an online business and make money online with little or no cost at all.
- Drop Shipping
- Affiliate Marketing
- Online Video
1. Drop Shipping:
The basic idea behind an online drop shipping business is that, as a small business owner, you don’t have to maintain a large inventory (or any inventory whatsoever) of products or handle any delivery to your customers. That eliminates the financial cost and risk of having a warehouse full of stuff you might not sell, and the hassle of arranging to send orders all over the country or the world. In fact, you don’t have to manufacture or store any products at all.
The only thing you have to focus on is marketing and advertising to find the customers and make the sales. Once the sale is made the rest is handled by others. Your only cost is the expense of marketing and advertising to acquire a new customer.
When that is done, you’ll work with an organization that has some expertise in outsourcing. Here’s the manner by which it works:
- You list products for sale on your website or a platform like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy.
- When one of your customers makes a purchase, you purchase the product from a third-party company (the drop shipper, usually a manufacturer or wholesaler) for a lower price. This process is as simple as forwarding the order from your customer, a process that can actually be completely automated. (Remember you don’t have any risk here of buying inventory because the sale has already been made).
- Your drop shipper then sends the product to the customer.
Easy enough, right? With drop shipping, you can offer a wide range of products, so the operating expenses for your business are super low.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is somewhat similar to drop shipping but with some key differences. With this e-commerce model, you again don’t maintain an inventory of your own products, and you don’t have to worry about shipping products to customers.
With affiliate marketing, you offer the products for sale, for example, on your blog or e-commerce website. Each product has a unique link that tracks back to your account with your affiliate partner. A prospect who clicks on the link is taken to your partner’s shopping cart for checkout. Once they buy, that purchase is recorded and you receive a commission. Commission amounts vary depending on the affiliate partner, but is generally 5 percent to 25 percent, or 50 percent or more with digital information products. As you can see, there’s little risk on your part and virtually no investment needed either. Just like with drop shipping your only costs will be marketing and advertising to drive traffic and generate the sale.
If you have the expertise or a passion or interest for a subject, you’re ready to start making money with a blog. With a service like Blogger (www.blogger.com), you can start up your blog totally free. You can also create your own site and secure your own hosting for a low price, which is generally the route I recommend, as many free blogging sites have restrictions on what you can say or do, including making money or advertising.
4. Online Video
Have you watched a YouTube video lately? Of course you have! This is one of the world’s most popular websites, with more than 1 billion users watching hundreds of millions of hours of video each day. And it’s not all cats doing funny things, by any means.
You can leverage YouTube’s reach to make money online. No, you’re not trying to create a viral video, so to speak, although if it does go worldwide and is seen by millions, that’s a good thing.
You make money with ad revenue. Your first step is to create a YouTube account and start uploading videos. Then you enable monetization on your YouTube settings. Basically, this gives Google the go-ahead to include short AdSense ads with your videos, which you’ve seen if you’ve watched a YouTube video. When viewers click on those ads, you get paid.
Some tips to create professional-looking videos (no expensive pro equipment needed):
- You can use your smartphone or a simple video camera.
- Make sure the audio is clear.
- Use simple editing software
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