How to start making money online
|Usually when you see those words, what you read is total BS. It's the answer for how the author makes money online, by getting you to buy stuff or sign up for a mailing list so you'll buy stuff later. I'm not going to do that. In fact, I'm not going to ask you to do anything, and no link on this page pays me money for any reason. I'm just going to share what I've learned so far, along with costs to consider, potential pitfalls and my personal plan of action.
What it is:
Affiliate marketing is the most popular way to attempt to make money online. Note the word "attempt", because a lot of people surely fail. But many succeed big, because they have learned to do it right. Affiliate marketing in a nutshell is paid advertising for some online product or service.
How it works:
As an affiliate marketer, your job is to spread the word. Think of it as freelance advertising. You use everything at your disposal to get people to click on your affiliate links. Some links will pay per click (PPC) and others pay a percentage of sales resulting from clicks. Affiliate marketing programs are all over the web. Some examples:
please note: I do not endorse or recommend any of these sites. I don't know enough about them. Use your own judgement.
First, choose your product. For best results, pick something you're passionate about. You should be able to find affiliate products to fit most interests. The most popular ideas involve concerns that huge numbers of people share...health, weight loss, making money online, baby products, pet products, sports themed products, etc. The more mass appeal your product has, the more money you will make. A secondary consideration is marketing specialty products to a younger consumer - products that may have less commercial appeal but a more dedicated audience. Example: products aimed at wannabe vampires. You've seen them. They have to buy black lipstick and spiked dog collars somewhere.
Next, you'll need to decide how to advertise, and there are several options. Personally, I say go big or go home. Utilize every advantage.
Domain and website. You can make money without them, but one of the most important assets for any business is a mailing list. A database of loyal customers is the path to real riches. You can set this up for a fairly small amount of money if you know a little programming or can afford to invest some money to get started.
Your website needs:
Article and blog marketing is currently the hottest trend in web advertising. If you have writing skills, just sign up at an article submission site and write articles that link directly to your product, your blog or your website. Read the terms of service carefully. I like Ezine, but there are plenty to choose from. I recently wrote an Ezine article about article marketing, if you'd like a little more information. It's free to submit articles and you can easily find a free blog as well. The key to making money with article marketing is to write real content and not just advertising. People are sick of advertising. Aren't you?
Social media marketing is huge. This is basically a way to use your personality to build an audience. I've blogged about this here on GB once or twice. I do have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, and probably every other site on the web, but I don't use them to market. I don't know that I ever will...I've never been fond of marketing to friends. On the other hand, if you write something interesting, a loyal network of friends will help you spread the word voluntarily, or at least that's how it seems to work. The bottom line is that if you write something people like, they are happy to spread it around...so if you're going to do this, be as entertaining and original as you can be.
Paid advertising - most of the people making the big bucks use paid advertising, like Google Adsense, to get their links into the sponsored ad section of the search page. It can be expensive, but it's well worth it. The good news is that you don't need it to get started. If money's tight, use the free methods I've outlined, then invest in paid advertising later.
Costs: The bottom line is that cost depends on how much skill you have and how hard you're willing to work at this. Someone with programming skills, writing skills and plenty of time can get started for a very low cost. Free wesbites are usually supported by competing ads, the last thing you want. But you can shortcut the programming by using a simple email form to collect your mailing list and keep up with it manually in a spreadsheet. Unfortunately, if you are successful, you'll soon be flooded with emails and if you aren't prepared to handle them automatically, you could lose business. First rule of internet marketing: immediate response. When they sign up, send them something. A simple thank you, a link to your latest newsletter, a link to some valuable free content...something.
Some additional things to consider:
My personal plan of action:
I've spent weeks learning about all this stuff, and I've come to the conclusion that there are too many factors that make it difficult to get started. So I've decided to combine my experiences and create a website that ties all these things together and makes it easy for an affiliate marketer to get started. I've been developing websites for ten years, and I think I've got a handle on what affiliate marketers need to start making money online (<--this is a longtail keyword. Note that it's also in the title and elsewhere in the text, and related keywords are scattered throughout).
My plan has three parts:
1. Create a template website with a built in mailing list, an email communications center, and a login area to tell people how to use the website to make money (what's in this blog post, only in more detail). We already have all these features, so all I need to do is set up an autoresponder feature that allows marketers to send an automatic response to people who sign up.
2. Institute an affiliate program of my own to allow people to sell the website I design and earn a commission, probably about $50.
3. Follow my own instructions and set up an affiliate site, then start seeding the web with articles, videos and blog posts in both directions, company sales and personal focus. I'm pretty passionate about diabetic health, so I'll probably choose affiliate products in that area.
As odd as this sounds, it took me a while to get a handle on this and get a plan together. Somehow, I overlooked how I could tie the business I work for in with the knowledge I've picked up about SEO and affiliate marketing. I hope that my experience will help you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, by comment, GB message, Twitter, or email sgray.marketing AT gmail.com. I may not have the answer, but I'll do my best.
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