Make Money Online - The Future Is Now
It’s time to put it on the phone line. No more 18 minutes to send a single fax. No more listening to the dialup tone while your family stand in line behind you. No more sending out a hand written order form and forgetting what you’ve ordered long before you receive it.
The future is now. It’s also still in the future, but some of it is now. And now is also now.
Well the past is definitely over. That much I know. And it’s time to move forward.
But it is truly an amazing time for human technology. If you’ve got something to sell and you want to make money reaching the largest possible group of customers, you get it on the interwebs. That’s where all the people are.
Sure, you could get a quaint little tinker’s cart and drag it through the farmer’s market trying to flog your online Adobe course. But unless you hate success, then you’ll probably want more customers.
Two sales to Jim the chicken guy and the lady who makes candles, does not a growing business make. Also, what on earth are you carrying around in that cart when it’s an online course? Selling your product to your mates is not making money online.
But I digress.
The world of online business is truly unique and profoundly life changing for new business owners.
Not just because you have access to an entire globe of potential customers, but also because your product no longer has to be physical. When you don’t have to build, print, and physically distribute a product, you are able to create ideas and options for customers that never existed before.
Of course many online businesses sell tangible products, but for the entrepreneur looking to create a start up online business, they are no longer bound by the physical. And if you do have an amazing physical product to sell what could be better than a store that every country on earth can access?
Do You Have A Great Idea?
Are you an entrepreneur with a great idea? Are you about to start building an online business from the ground up? Or are you just searching for ideas on how to make money online?
This article is dedicated to providing you with the framework for getting started on that idea, or what do you when you discover it. We will look at the different aspects of online business building that you will need to consider, such as planning, budgeting, marketing and using some amazing online tools.
We will also go into some additional advice for staying on track, with tips for time management and staying committed long term. If you are one of those people who want to be successful at making money online, escaping your day job, or even just taking your existing business online - the following tips, information and ideas are here to help you do it.
Planning is Key to Making Money Online
For an online business a hard and fast business plan is probably going to do you more harm than good. What you’re looking for is something far more flexible, that you review often and stay emotionally distant from.
How do you intend to manage that product, or manage your blog to ensure you make money? A business plan that’s too rigid can make it difficult to bend with the changing environment that is the online world. So stay bendy and don’t be afraid to adapt.
Where you’ll need your strict planning hat is behind the scenes. You’ll need to plan your daily workflow, and that of your team. You’ll need to plan your finances. You’ll need to plan how you’re going to achieve all these goals you’ve got piling up.
What kind of business are you trying to build?
What kind of a business are you trying to build? How are you hoping to make money online from it? Will you be selling a product in an online store, or collecting advertising revenue from your blog?
Once you know how you want your business to look at the end you can start working backwards. What are the steps that you need to take to reach that end result?
A great tool for plotting your world takeover is LeanStack. It’s a simple one page business plan that has the ability to paint the picture in your head.
A lot of planning out your future success in online business will involve scheduling. You might have to tweak each step as you go, but staying on track with your schedule is important. Plan out the working week: when you’re going to work, and what you’re going to be working on.
Some tasks will take longer than anticipated, some less, but maintaining good discipline will keep that train chugging along.
Live Within Your Means
Live within your means! If you haven’t started earning an income yet, then you can’t afford to get the best and greatest of everything. You might not be able to hire a staff of thousands and possibly only afford a few basic online tools to help you out. Prioritise! You’ll have to map out everything your business needs and decide what you can and can’t live without. If you don’t have a lot to spend don’t despair.
What you can learn for free online will boggle your mind. If you can’t pay someone to do something you might have to teach yourself how to do it. Which, by the way, is unbelievably good for your brain anyway. Never stop learning. I’ve been learning how to function on 4 hours sleep a night for what might be the rest of my life. I can see noises.
So think about what will be absolutely vital for this business to succeed when it goes live. Good SEO will help you show up in search results. Email automation will keep you in the minds of customers, and excellent website design will entice users. Which things are important to you?
Once you know what you want, work out how much you can spend. Avoid dipping into money that isn’t allocated to your business. Remember you still have bills to pay and until you’re earning an income throwing your whole pay cheque at your business might be ill advised. It’s great to be optimistic, just don’t confuse that with being crazy.
It can take time before you are making money online.
Keep in mind that even once businesses are launched it can take some time before you are making money online. However, as you do start to earn money you can decide how you’re going to pump up your business. Perhaps add some updates you couldn’t afford before?
The main focus should be getting a fantastic site active as soon as possible. Stress about good functionality, not about bells and whistles.
There’s no one size fits all for budgeting. Make sure you’re on top of every possible outgoing so you know what money you have left over to put into your business.
Oh that sweet precious time! Do you remember when you actually had some? Yeah. Back when you spent 90% of it plotting your brother’s demise. I’m still trying to figure out what I actually did in the 90s besides stare at posters of Hanson and write angrily in my diary.
But now I’m an adult. And I have no time. I’m confident the days haven’t changed in length, but I feel like a spare five minutes is a holiday. Sometimes when the screaming and clawing at my legs stops I just stand there and gaze at the wall: I’m on a white beach with a pina colada. All I want for Christmas is a cone of silence.
Managing Time Is Like Managing A Budget
So back to managing that time. It is very much like managing a budget. You have a finite amount of both time and money and you need to allocate it accordingly. If you do have unlimited money maybe skip the section on budgeting. And toss some twenties out the window as you drive past my house.
As you plan how to spend your money, you need to plan how to spend your day. Businesses do not build themselves. Right now, my allocated time for my own work is after my children go to bed. It’s not ideal, and it’s often a struggle, especially as my daughter’s wake up time is circa 4am. I eat lunch at 9am and start hallucinating around 6. Then work starts at 8. Caffeine is an amazing drug.
What’s important is that it’s part of a plan. Like anyone working from home, schedules have to be flexible to deal with the demands of families and friends, but your commitment will pay off.
If you know you are going to get interrupted, don’t book in work time. Wait until you can sit down and fully commit, so that your time isn’t wasted. Whenever you have to split yourself between 2 demands, neither receives the best you can give.
I might be able to squeeze in 30 minutes between the tent assembling and the bandage applying, but it would be a completely useless 30 minutes.
Thinking about how to manage your time is a lesson in efficiency. How can you group the hours of the day together to get better results? If you’re working full time, those hours are nicely grouped together. You can be focused. But when you get home it can start to unravel.
When you’re home, try to group all your recreational hours together. Relax either before or after you work, but keep them separate. Jumping back and forth between will waste time and disrupt your productivity. Any time you can sit and concentrate on a task is great for your brain. Relax and enjoy your down time, then focus and get stuck into it in your work time.
Try to pinpoint where you are losing time.
Continually look at your day and try to pinpoint where you are losing time. For full time workers, it’s easy to lose time in the morning. Time you can gain back before work is time you get back at night. If you’re taking 2 hours to get ready for work how can you reduce that to an hour? Or half an hour? That’s 90 minutes you can sleep in, and 90 minutes you can add to your business at night.
There is any number of ways to use that strategy. It’s all about determining what time you need to get up in the morning, and how to package those 24 hours to make the most of your day.
This is a vital skill that only develops through practice. This is a real test of willpower. There’s going to be a myriad of opportunities for you to skip steps because you are impatient to reach the finish line. Trying to get your website up and running and don’t want to waste another minute?
You also need to balance this urgency to skip to the end with the knowledge that you need to get something operational up sooner rather than later.
You might have run your new website through its alpha tests and everyone involved has given it the thumbs up. If you’ve been agonising over this start up for months or years, you might think it’s time to just launch and start making some money. Forget about beta testing.
Perseverance means taking the time to follow proven steps.
Perseverance means taking the time to follow the proven steps. You don’t want to just launch your product and find out there is a whole host of functionality issues.
A friend of mine launched a new website with zero testing. They simply designed it, launched it, and advertised it as ready to use through their social media site.
What followed was a series of complaints from users who couldn’t use the app properly. The registration function didn’t always work and there were problems viewing the app on mobile devices.
And to make matters worse, it’s a really fantastic idea. Someone else saw it and created the same app within weeks that worked exactly as they had hoped their original would.
Now there’s still hope, don’t get me wrong. Those problems have been fixed and it’s been an important learning curve. But this is not the sort of stumbling block you want right out of the gate.
The fundamentals need to be rock solid.
The fundamentals need to be rock solid. This business will rely so heavily on it’s initial usability to its customers. If a website is too complicated to use, or simply does not function as advertised, you are driving away business.
Get out your virtual fine-toothed comb, and be prepared to get it right. It’ll be worth it when your first customers easily access your product and then tell their friends about it.
With all this in mind, it is equally important to get a great functioning product up and running fast. What you are looking for is quality, not quantity. You might anticipate this product or app having ten additional features. But if you’ve got a basic version ready to go that works brilliantly, then launch it.
You want your first release to work great, but it doesn’t have to have every single feature included from the get go. That’s what updates and upgrades are for.
It is a balancing act, this business of online business. You’ll need the patience to get it right, plus the confidence to get it out there ASAP in its fledgling form.
Make sure you set goals and work studiously towards them. Reward yourself for your efforts and take the time to breath and relax. Then can back to work. Your perseverance will pay off.
Search Engine Optimisation. I used to think it was a method for efficiently locating the clanking sound in your car. There is plenty to talk about on the matter, but simply put: SEO is about making the most of how search engines operate to bring traffic to your page.
And this is done through the use of keywords and key phrases. A search engine might pick up the first 50 or so words on your page, so this is the zone where you should include the majority of those keywords. Not to mention where ever else they are appropriate on the page.
If you’re selling tie-dyed kaftans you want to attract people who are on the hunt for tie-dyed kaftans. So the words ‘tie-dyed’ and ‘kaftan’ might be your ‘key’ keywords. And a key phrase might be ‘buy quality tie-dyed kaftans’.
Search engines use little internet bots to investigate your site.
Search engines send out their little Internet bots to judge you so don’t go too nuts: A reasonable amount of keywords, not an absolute flood of kaftans in every sentence. There is a fine line between attracting the right customers and outright spam. Search engines are judgmental and will penalise you if you get cray cray.
When you’re entering in your blog, you will have the option to fill out the Meta Tags. The Meta Tags are essentially the HTML code that waves the flag for search engines to find you. So when you fill out your Meta Tags, make them keyword heavy and to the point. Think about what your visitors might type into the search engine to find your product. Try to avoid epic sentences (says the girl who can’t write short sentences). Key phrases are best. If you want to make money online, getting SEO right is a huge part of making that happen.
Pay Per Click. Which is exactly the way it sounds. You pay every time you get a click. But obviously there’s a little bit more to it than that. Now you might be thinking hold on, I want to make money online, not spend it. PPC is one of the best tools to generate traffic consistently which will be very important in building your business. Especially while you are working on your SEO.
PPC is a system of advertising that allows you to essentially purchase traffic to your page. You know how you go to Google and type in diamond studded dog collars and instantly see a website in the top spot that specialises in that very item?
Well Diamond Dogs Are Us paid for you to see them in that top spot. And more than just paying, they’ve crafted their website to react precisely to your search input. PPC is advertising you pay for, but not in the traditional ad in the Sunday paper sense.
Adwords is a combination of good writing and how much you are willing to pay.
So let’s say you and a truckload of other online business want to sell the same product. You’ve all signed up for PPC with Google Adwords. You have all just entered into an auction for that top spot.
This auction considers two factors when it decides whose ad gets to show up in response to a search. Your maximum bid per click, multiplied by your Adwords ranking.
Firstly, the amount of your bid will depend entirely on your budget for advertising. You might only be able to afford to pay $1 a click. Maybe you can pay $10.
This is where the effectiveness of your keywords is absolutely vital. If you only have a small budget for advertising, your website needs to be absolutely top notch. If you want to make the most of this form of marketing, then you want to take the time to craft a great campaign.
Google wants to make sure that your page is relevant to the search.
That’s good news for you AND the user.
Users do not want to type in How To Decorate A Bed hoping to find interior design tips, only to stumble onto your blog about turning bed heads into garden gates.
That’s a click you pay for, but don’t earn any revenue from. Take your keyword research seriously. What would a crafty up-cycler put in a search engine to find your DIY tips?
Google Adwords will give you a ranking based on the quality of your page. And this ranking matters every time you enter into one of these multiple auctions.
If you have relevant keywords, and content to back it up, you can reduce your cost.
So hypothetically, if you have a ranking of 10, but can only pay $1 per click, then your chances of winning the auction are as good as someone who can pay $5, but only has a ranking of 2. So it’s not always about the money.
Now the actual price you pay per click can work out to be even less than your maximum bid. If you win the auction, Google will use the website who came second in ranking to calculate what you pay for that click. So if their ranking is significantly lower than yours, the actual price you pay for that click will be lower.
You could have a bucket load of advertising money, but if your page isn’t up to snuff you might find you are paying the full bid price every time you win an auction, but aren’t getting the sales you need.
There is more to Google Adwords than I’ve covered here, but PPC is another way to finesse your marketing campaign.
If you want to make money online, you need to connect with your customers.
Social media is really the ultimate place to connect with your market. This is where you get to talk and relate to your demographic and keep them engaged with your product.
Getting with the times was never more important: Everything from Twitter and Facebook, to Instagram and Snapchat. The world is your virtual oyster.
Social media takes an enormous amount of dedication, primarily because people are fickle. If you’re not active and constantly engaged, you’ll be forgotten. There were some Facebook pages I followed five years ago and completely forgot they existed until a post showed up apologising for the absence. Insert awkward wide-eyed emoji here. Deleted.
You might not want to be a daily Facebooker for your business. Perhaps weekly or monthly? And perhaps you want to keep it formal and simply about the product changes or upgrades. Whatever you decide consistency is important. Your followers will learn what to expect from you, and then connect with you based on the parameters you set up.
If you are super gung-ho you might have a cracking daily joke on Twitter. Maybe put selfies up every day on Instagram with your product balanced on your head. Whatever you do, stay on it.
Be consistent in your communication.
Users are going to find it confusing and off-putting if you are formal with business related statuses every day, then suddenly shredding your ex in a Twitter rant.
This might be a good time to suggest thinking about whether or not you connect your business and personal social media pages. You can’t post rude videos on your personal page and have it linked to your business page that’s selling children’s books. Think about your credibility and the type of image you want to have.
Being active on your social pages is important because it gives your audience something to distribute on your behalf. If you’ve just added a new feature to your app, it might appeal to a whole new group of customers. By keeping your followers informed on upgrades or new products, you give them the opportunity to share that information to their friends.
Think about how often you see something in your Facebook feed just because one of your friends ‘liked’ it.
Now you are accessible by more than just your friend’s list, you are branching out. Exposure baby! Anyone who loves what you do is going to tell his or her friends about it. So be loveable.
So we know about that aspect of social media. But you have the option to use PPC within social media platforms as well. Think about that ‘suggested post’ you saw in your news feed that was oddly connected to a recent search. That’s no coincidence.
Although the first time I noticed it I got the creeps. I had no idea a Google search I’d done that morning could show up in a Facebook ad later that day. I thought I was being recorded and put gaff over my webcam.
What were the odds that Facebook knew so much about me? Aside from the fact that it’s a page dedicated to my personal ramblings. Well it’s just those pesky keywords again and businesses making the most of PPC advertising campaigns.
Do not neglect your social media. ‘tis the future.
Make Money Online With The Best Tools
This is probably the most exciting aspect of running an online business. It’s like the virtual equivalent to handbags and shoes. It’s all the cool toys you can get to make your business a cyber machine.
And also, unless you’re a team of many, starting up from scratch without utilising any online tools is risky business.
Outsourcing & Stock Photos
Now you might like to take every photograph yourself, but sometimes you aren’t going to have time. The blog has to go up, and all you’ve got is this Internet thingy. You can source stock photos to suit almost any purpose. Shutterstock and iStockphoto are amazing resources for stock photos.
Type into the search whatever you need and take your pick of any number of stock photos. Sure it’d be great to take and edit your own authentic photos every time, but if it isn’t viable you have some great options.
When it comes to outsourcing, there are so many things that you can get done by someone else. Perhaps you’re trying to upload a daily blog but struggling with the writing. You could find yourself a great writer. Outsourcing through sites like Fiverr and Freelancer is a great option for finding talented artists for writing and graphic design. You don’t have to be good at everything. There are people out there whose skills you can use.
So with all this talk of keywords how do you know what keywords to use? Well, in the vast world of the interwebs, there is a tool for every job. Apps like AccuRanker and KWFinder can help you find out what keywords are going to be best for you.
They can research which keywords are getting the most hits and best rankings for your particular product. You can even look up what’s going on in your neighbourhood, or any neighbourhood in the world that has Google.
These sorts of tools allow you to make the best decision to improve the likelihood of traffic to your page. And not just traffic: traffic that wants what you have. It’s not just having the cars drive by your shop: you want them to pull over and throw money at you.
To me this is one of the coolest kinds of software available to online businesses. Email is still vital for marketing your products and staying engaged with your customers.
The thing about customers and potential customers is they hate junk advertising that just shows up in their inbox. It’s the digital equivalent to those flyers you get from real estate agents wanting to sell your house.
That’s why emails need to be personalised. Hi Jenny, we noticed it’s your birthday! Merry Christmas Barry, here’s a 20% voucher for all of December! Billy, we noticed it’s a year since you signed up. Here’s a free gift!
These are the sorts of emails that make a difference. I just got a 3-month magazine subscription from my mobile phone provider as an anniversary gift. Will that keep me as a customer for a bit longer? Yes indeed!
Email automation can be personalised, planned and scheduled.
Now these sorts of emails can be whatever you want them to be. What you need is a great email automation tool to handle it all for you. Because unless you are ten people in one, you’re never going to have the time to write these personalised emails yourself.
With email automation tools like GetResponse and Campaign Monitor you can set it up so they do all the work for you. They take the information your clients provide when they sign up with your site, and simply follow your instructions. Think about the kinds of emails you want your clients to receive, and write it once.
These email automation tools can then personalise each one based on the customer’s personal details. They’ll receive their free birthday gift on their birthday, and they can get advertising based on what they’re viewing on your site. Amazing stuff.
So you might wonder how an online tool might make you more productive. But it’s not just about your airtight discipline. It’s about getting things done fast and efficiently in a highly competitive world. In the last twenty plus years we’ve gone from snail mail to immediate gratification. So you need to be ready to shoot. If you want to make money online, you'll need to be as productive as you possible can.
You need to get those files over to your designer? Dropbox them. They can have the files straight away and get to work. Then they can Dropbox it straight back. You can have changes authorised and view new ideas as quickly as they are finished.
What about note taking? Perhaps you’ve had an amazing burst of inspiration and you updated your bio and your landing page while on the train. Type it in to Evernote and share it with your website guru. It’s updated before you get to work.
Know your purpose and use the right tools.
You’ve got a meeting with some prospective clients and need to show them your growth over the last 12 months. Try an online service like Lucidchart so you can stick it all onto a graph and let them see it in professional layout. Share your brainstorming with your team members and delegate work with flow charts.
It’s a smorgasbord of online buffoonery out there. Know your purpose and find the best tools for the job.
Don't lose track of your online tools, it'll cost you time and money.
When you’ve gathered your tools, consider how you might manage all these new subscriptions. Without something to track all these monthly payments, it’s easy for something to get lost in the chaos.
You’ll have 30-day trials going on all over the place; expiration dates looming, and direct debits coming out every which way. There is only so much space on your white board. And in your head.
But if you find yourself an excellent app to track all your subscriptions, you will be the epitome of organised. Not having something in place to manage all your tools is a recipe for disaster.
Well we’ve covered a few things on a way you can make money online but not nearly everything there is to know. But hopefully I’ve given you a basic outline of what you’ll need to arm yourself with going forward.
It’s exciting and it’s daunting. Back in the fifties if you opened Bob’s Drapery on the main road you were probably the only one on the street. You weren’t wrestling against ten other people trying to open draperies on the same block. You were in between the baker and the soda shoppe and everyone did their own thing. You got free bread and ice cream and life was good.
You probably also worked a 50 hour week for 90 cents. You had about twenty customers, 9 of whom were your children and they never paid.
Aren’t you glad times have changed?
Now you’re up against thousands upon thousands of people all clamoring for the best spot on the main street. But this gives you the opportunity to be really creative and add a personal twist to your product.
You aren’t bound by what you can order from a wholesaler’s catalogue. You can create what you want and be what you want.
And you can take your product or blog right into the home of someone who wants what you have to give. That sounds dirty too. But you see the point.
Human beings are so nuanced, which is perfect for online business. It means there’s always a niche market, no matter what crazy scheme you’ve got going on. Within reason and presumably international law…
What I hope I’ve provided you with is some motivation and inspiration. You know that you have hard work ahead of you. But with some amazing online tools and some dedicated planning you can get this idea off the ground.