Building a successful internet business on a solid foundation

four ways to make money online

How does this guy do it?

One of my friends is now learning the ropes of internet marketing. I’m a little further down the road than he is. As I thought about this whole process again, it made me wonder:

How does somebody make money online?

There are four ways that regular, everyday people make money online. These four ways – or a combination of them – is the foundation for any solid internet business. In other words, if you’re just starting out and you have no idea where to begin, look to build your online business in one of these four areas.

#1 – Sell Products

One of the primary ways people make money online is by selling products. By acting as the distributor, a person can sell products to customers online.  For instance, if you have an offline, brick-and-mortar business that sells custom desks, you can probably sell those desks online. I know of one businessman who made a tidy sum doing exactly that. He bought an offline custom desk manufacturer. He then used the internet as a lead-generation tool to find prospective customers and sold them his custom desks.

Ebay, Amazon, Dell, Etsy, and countless other Ecommerce shops are built on the foundation of selling products. As I mentioned above, you don’t have to sell online products like Ebooks, subscriptions, or domains. Now-a-days, an internet marketing novice may do better if they can find an offline product to sell online. Still, everyday people can make money by selling products online.

#2 – Sell services

Another way to make money online is by selling services. By harnessing the power of groups and searchers on the internet, you can provide a needed service for those people. For instance, I’m using this website as a lead generation tool for my search marketing business. Each of these posts is to demonstrate my understanding of the online world. The idea is for prospective buyers of online services to see my uncanny wisdom and subscribe to my weekly updates, and ultimately buy my services.

Elance, Rent-a-Coder, Guru, and other service providers do the same thing. They provide a marketplace for buyers and sellers of services. The nice thing about going through those companies is that you don’t have to own a website to sell your services. The bad thing – buyers on those sites don’t pay very well. Still, everyday people can make money by selling services online.

#3 – Sell Advertising

Another way everyday people make money online is by selling advertising. Blogging is now the primary way ordinary people do that. By posting useful, consistent, content in a particular niche, you can attract readers and monetize your blog with advertising. The two primary types of advertising is cost per thousand impression (CPM) and cost per click (CPC) advertising. If you attract enough visitors to your website you can make money by placing CPM and CPC advertising.

Although selling online advertising is a tricky method, but it can be a very lucrative for the right site in the right niche. I met one such site owner at a conference who made $75,000 a month on his site selling advertising – almost a million bucks a year. I don’t know about you, but I could live with $75K each month. The mighty Google itself is nothing more than a tripped-out website that pulls in billions each year selling advertising. Selling CPM and CPC advertising is one way everyday people make money online.

#4 – Sell Other People’s Products or Services

Finally, you can sell other people’s products or services. This is often called “affiliate” or “performance” marketing. It’s also called cost per acquisition (CPA) advertising. But there’s a big difference between performance marketing and the CPM/CPA advertising.

Affiliate marketing is when companies pay someone a commission for each qualified lead or sale they drive to a company’s website. It’s a great deal for the company. They only pay the affiliate marketer when someone buys something or when a prospect fills out a form. That allows the company to pay commissions out of revenue or expected revenue – a much more attractive proposition than buying clicks or impressions.

Like CPM/CPC advertising, it takes time and effort to build up a solid performance marketing business. But it can be lucrative. Some affiliate marketers, aka “super-affiliates” pull in six and seven figure paychecks every month. Selling other people’s products and services is another way everyday people make money online.

Did I miss any? Feel free to contribute to the list.