Many are inspired to start their own online business after hearing about the success of mine.  While the business is doing great, I’d like to again reinforce that this path is not for everyone; it required years of work without any guarantee of a reward.

One of the biggest questions people have is how I figured all this stuff out.  Google is my best friend.  If there is something I want more information on, I’ll just Google it.  If you have any questions or want more info on anything, I highly recommend Googling it, and you will find your answer!

If you would still like to venture into the online world of business, I’ll break down the main three strategies I have used.

PPC (Pay Per Click) Affiliate Marketing

  • Months before turning a profit: 1 to 2
  • Capital investment: ~$500
  • Profit potential: You can make or lose lots of money
  • Sustainability: Low

Buying Traffic

There are two types of listings that appear when you do a Google search.  Paid and unpaid.  The paid listings are at the top, right and bottom under the title “Sponsored”.  If you click one of these “Sponsored” listings, Google charges the advertiser a few cents for sending them a visitor.

Anyone can sign up and start advertising on Google with a Google Adwords account.  You will pick the keywords you want to target, create a little ad, and pay google for any clicks they send you.  Buying visitors on Adwords is about one hundred times more complicated than I just made it out to be, so just search Google for more info on how to use Adwords.

If you are going to sign up to Google Adwords, make sure you Google the term “Adwords Credit” and you will find a coupon code to get up to $100 worth of free Google advertising.

You can also run ads like this on Yahoo Search Marketing, Facebook and MSN.

Selling Traffic

You are basically running ads for someone else’s business.  You will get paid every time you send this 3rd party a “lead”, or a visitor that signs up to their service or completes some sort of transaction.

As an example, we will use the site “Fitness-Singles.com”.  For everyone I send to their site through my unique tracking link (http://www.myaffiliateprogram.com/u/fit4it/b.asp?id=3622&img=250×250_fitness-pic.jpg) who signs up for a free profile, I get paid $3.00.

So, I’ll advertise on Google for search terms such as “Fit Singles”, “Buff Dating”, etc. I’ll pay Google $0.25 per visitor they send to me.  1 in 10 of these visitors will sign up to the offer, and earn me $3.0o.  In the end, I’m paying $2.50 to get $3.00, creating a profit for my efforts.

Anyone can sign up to these “Affiliate Programs” and can start advertising other people’s stuff and start making money.  Here are a few programs you can check out right now:

  • Commission Junction: http://www.cj.com
  • Azoogle: http://www.Azoogle.com
  • NeverBlue Ads: http://www.NeverBlue.com

There are literally hundreds of these programs, and anyone can sign up for free with no strings attached.

PPC Affiliate Marketing Pros

Using this model, you can turn a profit pretty quickly.  You can set up your first campaign and be in the black that night.

Google Adwords also has a million controls, so you can set daily spending limits, track keyword performance, test different ads, etc.  You can also see what is making you money and then easily scale up from there.

PPC Affiliate Marketing Cons

Although also a pro, the complexity of Adwords can be extremely frustrating.  It is a very powerful program, and can be difficult for the newbie to figure out what they are doing.

While you can  make a lot of money quickly, you can also lose a lot of money quickly.  In the real world, you won’t be paying $0.25 for each click like in the example above.  You will likely be paying over a buck a click, and losing $7 for every lead you send Fitness-Singles.com.

You will spend lots of hours tweaking ads and keywords, testing offers, and ultimately finding what works by finding a hundred configurations that don’t work.  Once you do find something that is working for you, one little change can push you into the red.

Why I Don’t Use This Method

While I have had success with this method in the past, I have entirely stopped pursuing it because of the instability, and the potential for losing a good deal of money.  I have also shifted my efforts away because I personally find it boring, and I don’t feel as though I am creating any value to anyone other than myself.  The only thing I find rewarding about it is the profit.

Building Content-Based Websites

  • Months before turning a profit: 4+
  • Capital investment: <$100
  • Profit potential: You will probably make a few bucks.
  • Sustainability: Moderate

Building Your Website

First, you are going to want to pick some sort of niche that people use the internet to find out more about.  This can be pretty much anything from dog training to weight loss supplements.

Building a website is easier than you think.  You can get a domain for under $10 a year and host as many sites as you want for a total of $7 per month.  Visit GoDaddy.com or BlueHost.com for more info.

If you have never built a website before, I would recommend using Wordpress (free) so that you don’t have to learn any HTML or web programming.  Wordpress is a very powerful tool, so expect to spend a while learning about it before you become a master.  This blog is actually built on Wordpress.

If you have some cash to spend, or just want to get more ideas on what websites to build, you can check out established websites for sale on Flippa.com.  Flippa is basically the eBay for websites.  You can learn a lot by browsing the listings, because sellers will often disclose exactly how much they make, and how they went about starting and marketing the site.

Getting Organic (Free) Google Traffic to your Site

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the term used for making your site rank higher on the search engines.  It basically involves placing your target keywords (eg. Dog Training) in various locations that help search engines know that your site is about Dog Training.  It also involves getting people to link to your site so that search engines know that you’re site is something worth looking at.

I could write you a book on SEO, but I don’t have the time or desire.  There is TONS of info on the web about how to do SEO, so just use Google and you will find plenty of reading material.

One of the biggest factors of getting ranked on Google is time.  You won’t start appearing at the top of the search results overnight.  You really have to wait several months before Google starts sending you any traffic.

Another factor is having high quality, unique content.  You will be the writer, so make sure that you have quality info, and ideally this will be your best bet to attract visitors.

Turning Traffic into Money

The easiest way to turn your visitors into money in your pocket is through Google Adsense.  This is a free account that anyone with a website can sign up for.  Google gives you a piece of code that you insert into your web pages, and it automatically reads the content and then displays ads related to your site.  Every time a visitor clicks one of these ads, you get paid a few cents.

The payout really depends on your niche.  If you have a site relating to some general interest topic like jokes or cats, you shouldn’t expect more than $0.05 to $0.10 per click.  If you have a site relating to foreclosures, mortgages, cash advances, loan consolidation, DUI attorneys, or anything expensive like that, you can expect over a dollar per click.

Content-Based Website Pros

Because you aren’t paying for advertising, this method has minimal monetary risk.  If your websites don’t succeed, you aren’t really out much money.  Also, all your work is done up front, and once the site is established, it basically generates residual income for you with no continued effort.

Content-Based Website Cons

The scalability of this business model isn’t great.  If you have the patience to create two sites a day for a year straight, you could be making decent money.  Otherwise, you might not be making much more than a couple hundred a month.

Why I Use this Method to Diversify

I don’t invest all of my effort into building sites like these because I would be bored to tears.  I’ve bought a number of established websites just to help diversify my earnings.

Creating Communities Online

  • Months before turning a profit: 5+
  • Capital investment: <$200
  • Profit potential: With enough persistence, skill and luck, you could make lots.
  • Sustainability: Decent

Building a Content-Based Website on Steroids

The idea is basically the same as building a content based site, but focus more on user interactivity.  In the model listed above, you are doing all the writing for the entire site.  In this model, your users are creating all of the content for you.  Because your users are constantly writing content for your site, your site continually grows and does better in the search engines.

The difficulty lies in getting the community started and keeping the community going.  A few examples of my community-based sites are: SupplementReviews.com and MotoredBikes.com.  Trying to attract new members when the site was just starting proved to be very difficult.  Keeping things running smoothly when members create drama between one-another is also a constant challenge.

Turning Traffic into Money

Turning traffic into money is pretty much the same as content-based sites.  Using Google Adsense is a pretty simple solution, but with a big enough site, you can test out other avenues.

You can sell advertising directly to a sponsor, or sign up to other advertising opportunities that can prove to be more profitable than Google Adsense.

You can also test affiliate offers on your site; getting paid every time a visitor clicks an ad and completes a transaction.  It is often tough to find products that your visitors will be interested in.

Community-Based Website Pros

Community sites often seem to be more helpful for individuals than basic content sites.  Your members will be making friends with each other and providing personalized help to your visitors.

I have been personally thanked dozens of times for creating these communities.  I feel good intrinsically when I know that I am actually helping people and providing something of value to the internet.

Content-Based Website Cons

The obvious hurdle is getting the site started, but the not-so-obvious hurdle is continuing to keep the place running smoothly.  There numerous battles all the time, from members not playing nice to members promoting their own business on your site.  The way you handle these issues ultimately determines the success of your community.

Why I This is my Favorite Method

This is my favorite method because it allows me to be very proud of my work.  It is also the most enjoyable to work on.  I am working with people most of the time, rather than doing monotonous writing or tweaking of ads and keywords.

Because my community-based sites are much larger, I end up doing a much more diverse set of tasks to keep them running smoothly.  I’ll do everything from establishing advertising relationships to running contests to mailing out free stickers to designing t-shirts.

I also feel very important knowing that I created these sites and I am in charge of keeping them running smoothly.  It is fun getting to call the shots and being the leader of the group.

Where to Start?

If you really want to start making money online, I would recommend jumping in head first and just starting a website.  You will have tons of questions, but you will learn tons by finding the answers to your questions online.  Don’t worry about doing everything perfectly; just focus on getting it done.

Here are some links to help you come up with ideas and get your business started:

 

3 Responses to “How You Can Start Your Own Online Business”

  1. will says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write all this.

  2. JohnAdled says:

    Excellent post! Really loved it, havent seen an artice this good in a while.

  3. Justin says:

    very inspiring – keep writing post please

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