Okay everyone. So let’s say you’re committed to the idea of starting your own business, and maybe you’ve even came up with some pretty rad business ideas (or if you still need a little help with that, check out our post on how to make money online to learn how to brainstorm a business idea), but you’re not quite sure what to do next. The next step is figuring out how you can deliver your awesomeness to people. True fact: you can’t make money if you don’t have something that people can buy. Sure, you can plop some ads on your blog and maybe generate a little income that way, but unless you’re majorly popular (and, let’s face it, not many of us are, especially if you’re just starting out), you aren’t going to be making more than pocket change for a while. Sponsored blog posts and affiliate programs can also be lucrative if you’re already an established, popular blogger, but again, not many of us are. Besides, all of those things help grow someone else’s business and brand, not yours. So let’s focus on things that you can do or create to grow your OWN brand.
How To Make Money Online
The secret? In order to make a lot of money online, you’ve got to have:
1. A product you can sell, or
2. A service you can offer, or
Without this, you have nothing. So today what I’d like to do is introduce you to some ways you can start making REAL money with your blog or website.
If you already are running a business or a blog, I want to challenge you to think about exploring new opportunities to grow your stuff. For example, I’ve seen a lot of photographers who have started out in the traditional way (taking photos for people) expand their biz into creating workshops geared toward budding photographers who are trying to learn or perfect their craft. And those workshops sell out LIKE CRAZY.
A service-based business is, quite simply, when you offer a certain service to your clients in exchange for money. Dinosaur Stew is partially a service-based business: I offer custom web & graphic design, as well as other services like SEO strategy, to my clients. Usually, work is conducted on a one-on-one basis and the client you’re working with is, essentially, your boss. If you’re super good at something, having a service-based business can be pretty lucrative because you can charge $$$ for your expertise and skill.
The downside is that, because there are only 24 hours in a day, you can only take on so many projects, which limits the amount of money you can make. For example, let’s say I can only take four web design projects each month. If I’m charging $500 per project, but my business expenses and cost of living are like, $4000, that ain’t gonna work out. However, if you can charge enough for your services, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Here are some basic examples of service-based businesses you may want to consider. If you’re interested in running a service-based business, I totally recommend that you brainstorm some services you can do that really fill a gap or are related to a particular niche.
Virtual assistants are kinda like personal assistants, only they do online tasks. This is great if you’re tech savvy and like working behind the scenes. Virtual assistants take the load off for busy blog and business owners by doing tasks for them. You can check emails for clients, schedule social media posts, and more.
2. Writing & Editing
If you like writing, the good news is there are a lot of writing opportunities out there on the web. The bad news is that a lot of these jobs pay absolutely terribly. If you’re going to make a lot of money as a writer online, you’ll probably have to spend a while gaining exposure and recognition as a good writer so people will actually pay you what you’re worth.
3. Photography & Photo Editing
If you’re passionate about photography and you’re good at it, it just makes sense to start making money with it! If you love photography but don’t LOVE working with people or would rather just do something where you don’t have to leave the house (I’m all about working from the comfort of my own couch), you can still do something photography-related, like photo editing.
4. Planning, Coaching, or Consulting
If you’re good at a particular thing and you find people coming to you all the time for something, you may be able to turn that into a part-time or full-time consulting business! I think this is always easier if you’ve already established some authority, either online or offline, otherwise it may be difficult to convince people that paying you for your advice is worth it. I’m also including “planning” in this section since wedding planners and the like are essentially specialized consultants.
There are two types of products: passive and non-passive income products. Passive income products are things that you create, sell, and sell over and over and over again. Dinosaur Stew’s WordPress themes, for example, are passive income: I create one product and it sells multiple times. I can sell my product regardless of if I’m at my computer or not. I can make money in my sleep. Non-passive income products are going to be more physical in nature, and you only have so many in your inventory before your supply runs out and you have to get more. You also generally have to do SOMETHING to get your non-passive income products to your buyers, whether it be package and ship them out or physically sell them at a storefront.
1. Stock Photography (Passive Income)
Maybe you love taking photos but don’t want to deal with the stress of working with clients. Stock photography is a great idea if your pics are out of this world. People who need them will notice, and you can sell them repeatedly.
2. Ebooks, Ecourses, and Workshops (Passive Income)
If you’re really good at something and it’s something that OTHER people want to be really good at, I seriously would recommend considering creating an ebook, ecourse, or educational workshop (particularly if you are good at calligraphy…I need major help with that and will attend your workshop!). You do have to pour a lot of time and effort into these ahead of time, but when you’re done, you have a very marketable product.
Pro-tip: If deciding between an ebook and an ecourse, always go for the ecourse. These two things oftentimes contain the same information, but courses can be packaged up in a more user-friendly way that usually sell for a bajillion more times than the ebook does. No one pays $150 for an ebook, but an ecourse? All the time.
3. Membership Website (Passive Income)
A membership website charges people a small monthly or yearly fee in exchange for access to ultra-exclusive, premium content. Again, if you’re really good at something and it’s something that people will definitely be interested in, this can be a good moneymaker. The most successful membership websites will keep in touch with their audience and their changing needs, and update content regularly.
4. Physical Products (Non-Passive Income)
Examples of physical products are things like handmade jewelry, homemade soaps, art prints, clothing, and so on. Selling physical products can obviously be super lucrative — I mean, people have been doing it for years — however, start-up costs can be higher, especially if you have to invest in materials and inventory before you get started selling. Also, absolutely do not underestimate the cost and time involved in shipping your stuff out to people. It’s smart to try to pick a physical product that:
- Is small & easy to move around: not only will these products be easier & cheaper to ship to people, they’ll also be easier to store.
- Is mid-range in price: if you’re selling a super cheap product, your competition consists of discount stores like Walmart, and there’s no way you can win that game. A high-range product may work for you, but your start-up costs will be lower if you pick something more mid-range.
- Sells for at least double the price it costs you: you should always aim for a 100% markup. If it costs you $9.00, your selling price should be at least $18.00. If you make your product by hand, you need to remember to factor in how long it takes you to make and pay yourself too.
I hope this post gave you some ideas for ways you turn your awesome business idea into a tangible thing that people can buy! Again, if you need some help coming up with a business idea, be sure to check out our this post for a little help! Remember to always consider your likes, your skills, and what people really need when choosing a product or service you can sell. Happy creating!