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Three Ways to Earn a Living Online

Updated on February 16, 2013

Make Money Online Without Investment... And Other Pirate Fantasies

Arrr... Captain Jack here. No, not really, it's just your friendly Auto Fanatic musing about doing business online.

I've been lucky enough to work online for the past fifteen plus years. For most of that time I've made a full-time living as an online marketer. In this lens I will share my story, as well as some lessons that I've learned.

In most lenses related to online marketing, the author works in their own product pitch. Let me assure you right up front that I won't be doing that. This is a gift to anyone that is struggling to understand how to build a viable, thriving business online.

The Very First Thing I Learned

Making a living online is a whole lot easier once you understand this!

Internet income comes in three forms:

  1. Selling other people's stuff;
  2. Selling your own stuff; and
  3. Renting your Internet property for advertising purposes.

If you know of another way to earn a living online (trading stocks does not count), please let me know.

Employment to Enjoyment

What I'm about to share with you is an idea. The idea is a seed I want to plant in your thought process.

For most people, the idea of "work" is a combination of need and enjoyment. When given the choice, we do the work we enjoy. With an above average income, we would enjoy the work even more!

Should selecting a home based business be any different?

Whatever your reason for looking for a new career, don't you owe it to yourself to make your work as enjoyable as possible?

I'd like you to reflect on that for a moment because it's really important. In my case, my work is part of my lifestyle. I work for enjoyment. I cannot imagine a J.O.B. doing something that is not fun and exciting to me... regardless of the financial reward.

What I'm about to share with you is an idea. The idea is a seed I want to plant in your thought process.

The combination of this seed and your personal thoughts of lifestyle, work and enjoyment will either guide you into the realm of possibility or wash you away like the great flood. It will be up to you.

Let's get started, shall we?

From Tiny Acorns Come Mighty Oaks

"It's important to remember that you have arrived at where you are right now because you are exploring."

Here's the seed. What if you can take something that you've always enjoyed doing or something that you've always wanted to do, or something you have great passion for, and make it your business?

Would you do it?

Your job at this very moment is not to know how. Your job is to give yourself permission to explore the idea. Where there is a will, there is a way, right? Sometimes you just have to be shown the way.

The Number One Road Block for most people is trying to conceive the leap from where they are right now to where they want to be. It reminds me of the movie "The Matrix", when Neo tries to make his first jump from one building to another. He fell, and it hurt. Why? Because he didn't believe it was possible. And at that moment he was right.

Right now I would like to get you into a creative process. No, we're not going to leap from tall buildings! In this creative process you will get to explore what you want, but you must believe that the building blocks will be created. "LEAP... and a net WILL appear!"

It's important to remember that you have arrived at where you are right now because you are exploring. Your exploration brought you to an Internet business as a potential path. If you take this path, the Internet will be your new office and your newest source of income. Got it?

Every Building Requires a Solid Foundation

Here's your first building block. It's an important one, too.

Remember this? Internet income comes in three forms:

1. Selling other people's stuff;

2. Selling your own stuff; and

3. Renting your Internet property for advertising purposes.

That's it!

There are no other ways to earn an income on the Internet.

The question you need to answer for yourself is which method of making money will you choose? Maybe the better question is... Why not have all three?

Oh, hey, that perked you up. Didn't it?

Indeed, why not put yourself in the flow of all three ways to earn money on the Internet? And, while you're at it, earn that money doing what you love doing.

Okay, stop dreaming about that fancy new whatever it was on your mind for a moment and let's get back to reality.

You've got some work to do. Here it is. Are you ready?

What Do You Want To Be... When You Grow Up?

Complete these three blank lines.

As crazy as it may sound, write down the three things you enjoy doing most in your spare time. You know what I mean, your hobbies and that sort of thing. Keep it short and sweet... three or four words per line about your topic works best.

1. ___________________________________________________________

2. ___________________________________________________________

3. ___________________________________________________________

Are you done yet? Come on now, chop, chop, we don't have all day!

If you're sitting there looking like a deer in the headlights, you're thinking way too hard. This is easy. Just write down what you enjoy. Pets, kids, cars, food, hunting, gardening... whatever! It's not a test, honest!

Great, I'm glad that's done.

Oh... if you didn't fill in the three lines above, YOU'RE FIRED!

No, really, I mean it.

You might as well quit right now before you ever get started, because you don't have what it takes to imagine your own future. For everyone else, you're ready for the next task. We're going on an adventure.

Let's Go To The Amazon!

Open a web browser on your computer and surf to Amazon.com. When you get there, put your mouse cursor in the search box. Type what you put on line "1." above, and click on the "GO" button.

Did Amazon come back with products related to what you put on line 1? Fantastic!

Next, look under the Amazon.com search bar and you will see what you typed in quotes. Below that Amazon will say "Showing 1 of xxx results". Put the "xxx" number on line 1 above and repeat what you just did for lines 2 and 3.

Hopefully you have three monster-size numbers on each line. If not, don’t worry about it, because you’ll understand in a moment and you can go back and revise your answers. (You see, I told you it wasn’t a test!)

When you’re finished on Amazon.com, head over to Ebay.com and do the exact same thing. I hope you get some big numbers on Ebay, too.

What those numbers represent is Internet Income Opportunity #1, "selling other people's stuff". And guess what? It happens to be something you enjoy!

Now, before you go and get all freaky thinking about this, get focused. Your job right now is not to know how. Your job is to know what. Are you still with me?

Take what you wrote on lines 1, 2 and 3 above and put it on the blank line below to create three sentences:

"I love ______________________ and would love helping other people enjoy it too!"

Now say it!

I mean it. Say it out loud, and put some feeling in it.

Which one of the three statements you said out loud really feels right? That could be your next business. Why? Because professional sales people help us make our most important purchase decisions.

Helping other people make buying decisions is important to them and it will make you feel good doing it.

The things you wrote above are important to you. What I can promise you is that they are important to other people, too. So, helping other people make buying decisions is important to them and it will make you feel good doing it.

Savvy?

The Answers Are Coming

Stop worrying about the "how". The answers will come. Keep focused on the what. In case you forgot what the "what" is, it's work - your new business -- you love doing it, and it's on the Internet.

At this point a practical example will help. So, let's assume that you love working on cars, and one of the most fun and relaxing things for you is automobile detailing (Yes, I know, that's my story... just work with me, okay?).

Just think of all the fun products there are to make cars shine. You've got polishes, polishers, waxes, and leather products, too. Don't forget the water... with hoses, buckets, wash mitts, drying towels, and more. Just think of all the fun things!

And here's the best part of all. There are thousands of other people out there who speak your same language. You might even say they are your peeps. You're all part of the same tribe of car enthusiasts who love clean, shiny cars! All you have to do is find them. Or, do you?

Maybe there's a way they can find you. Remember what I said about believing?

You see, the Internet makes it possible for people to find each other. It's just a matter of learning how. You can! And you will! But not right now. Let's finish what we started.

So, you've decided to do what you love and help others find and purchase all of the cool products that will make their car shine like new. As you survey the competition, you find an opening to sell Orbital Car Polishers with changeable foam polishing pads to car crazy people, just like you.

You decide this is a great idea because new car paint is simply too hard to polish by hand. Plus, it's a consumables market because the pads wear out and the polish gets used up. What could be better?

Unfortunately, you don't have the money to buy the polishers, pads and polish at wholesale prices in order to resell at a profit. You don't have a warehouse, either. But wait, this is the Internet, and you don't need these resources. You can simply use a supplier; let them process the orders, while you take a commission for bringing the sale. Perfect!

Now we can get back to the nagging, unanswered question above. How will people find you on the Internet? And I have the answer for you! Once you understand this point it will really begin to unlock the doors of possibility for you. This is a biggie.

Internet Success Secret #1

Search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing are really decision engines. Every day these magnificent resources help people make decisions.

Think about the last ten things you used your favorite search engine for. Was at least one of those uses to help you make a buying decision? I'll bet it was.

This single piece of knowledge is the key to your future success on the Internet. All you really need to know is that people are looking for the answers that you have. As Trinity whispered to Neo in "The Matrix", "It's the question that drives us..."

Internet Success Secret #1 is the questions. Moreover, the secret is in finding where people are asking the questions. Once you find the questions, all you have to do is answer them in a way that guides people to the solution (the product).

Author Dean Rieck once wrote, "Selling is simply offering the right product to the right people at the right time in the right way. You aren't forcing your customer to say yes; you're taking away his reasons to say no." This is exactly what you're doing by answering questions.

The Internet is full of amazing resources where people go to have their questions answered.

The Internet is full of amazing resources where people go to have their questions answered. One of the most popular places people go is Yahoo! Answers, a massive question and answer site that ranks in the top 100 of all Internet destinations.

Some of the more popular categories on Yahoo Answers! Include:

Arts & Humanities, Beauty & Style, Business & Finance, Computers & Internet, Consumer Electronics, Entertainment & Music, Family & Relationships, Games & Recreation, Health, Home & Garden, Pets, Pregnancy & Parenting, Society & Culture, Sports, Travel, and my favorite, Cars & Transportation!

Yahoo! Answers is really just the beginning when it comes to finding the questions people are asking. Another site like Yahoo! Answers is Amazon's Askville.

Forums and blogs are another great resource. Use the BoardReader search engine to find forums. A great resource for blogs is Technorati.

Internet Success Secret #2

Internet Success Secret #2 is using other people’s questions to generate content for a website. After all, you need to have some place for people to go to read or hear your answers to their questions. And here’s the most amazing part... The very questions you discover and use will guide you in the creation of your website’s pages, and those pages will guide your visitors to the products they need to buy.

Do you understand how powerful this concept is? Please take a few seconds to reflect on it:

The very questions you discover and use will guide you in the creation of your website’s pages, and those pages will guide your visitors to the products they need to buy.

Let’s get back to our example about Orbital Car Polishers. Now assume that you discovered 57 questions people are asking that are related to orbital car polishers, similar to:

1. Is an orbital polisher safe to use on my new car?

2. How do I remove swirl marks and scratches from my car?

3. How do I get rid of severe water spot on my paint?

4. How do I know what polishing pad to use with my polisher?

5. Do I polish my car first or wax it?

6. Can I use my car polisher to wax my car?

7. What’s the difference between a car polisher and a buffer?

As you begin answering these questions for people on your website, you notice that Google is sending people to your pages because they asked the same basic question at the Google search page. Now you’re getting excited because you can see a direct response to your work.

The Breath Of Life!

After a month or so answering a few questions a day, you also notice that the questions you’re answering fall into a few similar categories, so you decide to organize the information you’ve written into longer, more comprehensive articles that give more thorough advice.

Now three months later, you’re not only seeing a large volume of highly-targeted traffic from Google and Yahoo, you’re also beginning to receive commissions for the sales that you have generated. Pretty exciting, isn’t it? And fantastic work, too, I might add. But don’t stop there. Not yet!

What if you were to take this success and replicated it? Only this time, instead of a website about orbital car polishers, make it a website about the proper way to wash a car. Or, how about going for a fresh topic, like how to wash your car without water?

Now you have two highly targeted websites related to detailing cars. But why stop there? You could have a complete family of highly targeted websites that you enjoy, right?

Pick Your Battles Wisely!

You may be wondering why I’m not suggesting just one big website, and that would be a great question. The answer is simple. You need to pick your battles carefully. Pick battles you can win. You can’t fight a big competitor with deep pockets head-on. You’ll lose!

Let’s get back to our small, highly-targeted websites. Consider these as topics for additional mini-sites:

- How to wash a car

- How to clean a car without water

- How to polish a car

- How to remove swirls and scratches

- How to wax a car

- How to clean a car engine

- How to clean and treat a convertible top

- How to repair cloudy headlight lenses

- How to clean and condition leather

- How to clean automotive carpet and upholstery

If you looked at the list of topics and thought, “Hey, that’s starting to look like the table of contents for a book!”, then you can congratulate yourself, because you just graduated to the next level. You now have everything you need to create your very own Internet product – your first e-book!

Here’s the coolest thing of all. You’re creating your e-book through the process of building your websites. Isn’t that amazing? As they say, you’re killing two birds with one stone. You are creating your e-book one website at a time... Without pain!

One Stone, Two Birds

I'll bet you have a few questions about this just now, don't you? For instance, how will the e-book be sold? And, how can you sell the e-book if you're giving the information away online? Or, how much will the e-book sell for?

Those are all great questions. Let's take them one at a time.

First, it's important to realize that someone who is searching for "how to polish a car" is also likely to be interested in "how to clean a car engine". That is the huge benefit of having a network of linked topics.

Think about it. If you promote your e-book on each of your sites, a percentage of your visitors will buy it because they connected with the free information you provided to them on the website and they now want the rest of the information in your book. The great information on your websites is "pre-selling!"

For planning purposes, you should assume that 1% of your buyers will purchase your e-book. A very typical sales conversion rate for decent websites is 1-2%. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

If you have worked hard on your websites answering questions and build your traffic to 100 visitors a day per site, you will sell 10 to 20 books a day (across all sites). Given a buy-it-now price of $19.95, you're earning a modest $199 a day, or roughly $73,000 per year. You'll be subtracting about 5% from that figure for the cost of processing the money and hosting your websites.

Here's some news that should excite you. You don't have to do all of the promotion of your e-book yourself! One of the largest sellers of e-book products is Clickbank, a marketplace for digital goods.

Clickbank claims to make a sale somewhere in the wold every three seconds. If my math is right, that's about 27,000 sales a day! More importantly, they have over 100,000 hungry affiliate marketers constantly looking for new products to promote. By offering a generous commission on your e-book product, you will attract their attention.

Isn't this getting exciting?

Now, don't go counting your chickens before they've hatched. Use the numbers and figures I have provided for planning purpose. They are not a guarantee. You have a lot of work to do to get 8 to 12 websites completed. If you're a real go-getter, you can complete a website and a chapter for your book in a few weeks.

What's exciting to me is to watch the creative planning process happen. Then, bit by bit it is assembled and becomes an entity that's always growing and changing.

And now comes the really exciting part.

Internet Success Secret #3

And now comes the really exciting part. It’s the third way of making money on the Internet, and it fits perfectly with what you have already built.

The third way to make money on the Internet is to rent space on your websites to advertisers. Advertisers are always looking for ways to reach their audience.

If you worked super-hard you might be able to generate an average of 400 to 500 visitors a day to your each of your highly-targeted websites. Let’s assume that brings you a total of 4,000 visitors a day across your network of sites.

That’s not bad, and you can definitely earn income advertising to that traffic. The problem is that it’s very hard work to maintain that level of traffic to highly-targeted sites. And, there is a better way.

The better way is to use your rapidly growing list of e-book buyers (remember, your list is growing at 70+ people per week!) to create an authority website that gives people a reason to keep coming back day after day. It’s called a Community Forum. In other words, build a cool place for your peeps to come and hang out with you and talk about what they enjoy most.

Here’s the most amazing thing about Community Forums; once they get started they take on a life of their own and start growing. All of a sudden, you’re no longer in the website promotion business, because your enthusiastic members do the promotion for you, word-of-mouth style. That’s Internet Success Secret #3.

With a successful forum, you have an advertising platform. And, let me tell you, there are far more ways to monetize a forum than there are with any other type of website.

It's A Triple Cash Cow!

There you have it. It's a realistic plan to get from a place of having no Internet income to having three great sources of Internet income:

1. Affiliate sales commissions from recommending other people's products;

2. Massively profitable sales from your own e-book; and

3. Adverting sales from your own community forum.

Can you imagine the feeling you will have surveying all that you have accomplished? I know how it feels, because I have done it, and I'm doing it again right now. This very document is part of the materials I have created to help people like you master the skills needed to create an Internet business.

The question now becomes, will you do it? Will you take charge of your own destiny and create the lifestyle that you want for you and your family?

The BIG secret I have discovered in this business is URGENCY. If you make it a do or die task, you can get it done and finish in record time. This very document was created that way. I knew I had to get it done because I had other deadlines. The basic document took me less than a day to create. I gave it urgency and didn't let myself off the hook until it was done.

This isn't theory... it's real! Read my personal story below.

How I Got Started Online

My Internet marketing story dates back to the late 1990’s when I worked as a consultant for the State of California. It was a hurry-up and wait kind of job, as much of my time was spent waiting for legislature hearings. In my considerable down time I did what all good geeks do. I surfed the net!

At the time I was hanging out on a forum called Porsche Pete’s Boxter Board. After a couple of weeks, I started noticing an interesting trend at Pete’s place. Respected members of the forum would speak with authority about such things as exhaust system upgrades or tire and wheel packages. When they spoke, hordes of people would follow them and purchase the same products.

The phenomenon interested me so much that I wanted to know if I could replicate it. Moreover, I wanted to replicate it and be the seller of the products! Having nothing to sell, I decided to pursue one of my favorite hobbies, car detailing.

I started by building three websites. The first website was an e-commerce site for selling car detailing supplies. The second was a forum to start a car detailing enthusiast community. The third was a site to promote a car detailing book I had outlined.

All of the websites started out very modestly. I worked diligently every day to build pages and generate content. In the evenings I packed customer orders, which wasn’t so bad because it started out very slow, however, before the end of the first year, I had my first $15,000 month. I was having a blast!

The forum was taking shape, too. A year after its launch the forum had a few hundred faithful members that showed up almost daily.

Then the worst thing possible happened. The State of California canceled the project I was on and I was out of a full-time job. Ouch!

I’m not sure if it was luck, or a curse, but a week later I received a call from a recruiter. Sony Pictures Entertainment in Los Angeles was looking for a new VP to head their information systems department. A few weeks later I was on the job and back in the money again.

That’s when all Hell broke loose!

Just as I took the new position with Sony my little hobby business went through a GROWTH EXPLOSION! Almost overnight the membership on my forum doubled... then doubled again! Six months after taking the position with Sony my e-commerce sales doubled. Thank goodness my girlfriend was able to step in for me and take over daily operations.

At my one year anniversary with Sony I had to make a decision to renew my employment contract for another two years or ride the wave my little business was on. Can you guess what I did? Yep... I waved goodbye to my $200k-a-year J.O.B. and got the heck out of Los Angeles!

For the next two months I worked on my car detailing book. My goal was to finish the book and use it to take my business to the next level. I was a week from completing the book when the 9/11 disaster happened. D’oh!

First, my e-commerce sales dropped to zilch – because everyone was glued to the television – but then my phone rang. In an instant I was RECALLED back to active duty with the U.S. Navy Reserve.

The good news is that I was in town behind a desk. So at least I was home every night. The bad news was that my pay check got cut in half... overnight!

The saving grace was my new book. Two weeks later than planned I finished the book and launched it. In a matter of weeks, my income was back. The following spring, my business doubled, in large part due to the book.

My car detailing guide sold as an e-book and went through four revisions in five years. In its very first year, income from the book was just under $19,000. Total sales on the book (at $14.95 each from my own website) exceeded $200,000.

After its fifth year online my forum had 25,000 members and I openly invited my competitors to come and join me. In fact, I was hired by Meguiar’s, Inc. in Irvine, California – the largest name in car care – to create and run their forum for two years.

In 2008 I sold my e-commerce business and turned all of my attention to the forum, where in less than 60 days I was able to generate a steady five figure income month-after-month through advertising sales. A year later I sold the forum for $232,000 to a car detailing chemical manufacture in Santa Clarita, California.

From my e-book sales, affiliate sales, advertising sales, and the final sale of the forum I put more than $1-million in my pocket. That does not include any of the income from the e-commerce business, which benefited significantly from the forum and the e-book, as well.

Thanks for Stopping By!

If you are a Google Plus user, I'm David Bynon on G+. Please follow me and I'll follow you back.

I write about car detailing on my Guide to Detailing blog and I gripe and complain about healthcare reform and Medicare on my MedicareWire.com blog.

Chime in... - Please let me know you were here by signing my guest book.

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    • oddobjective profile image

      oddobjective 4 years ago

      Wow a really great lens. It is great to see your passion for the subject in every sentence of the article. I really like the part where you asked the questions what are three things you enjoy doing and if you didn't fill it out you should just quit now. So true. I like it so much I posted a comment on my facebook...and trust me I very rarely do that.