When I first started trying to understand internet marketing business models, I knew absolutely nothing. I did not understand how advertising worked, how credit card payments were accepted, how money moved around — nothing. All I knew was that I wanted to have an internet business. What I needed to know was what types of internet businesses were out there. What were my options? I address that topic in this issue of the Late Night Internet Marketing Minute.
Welcome to Episode 3 of the Late Night Internet Marketing Minute.
In Episode 1 we talked about what internet marketing was. In Episode 2 we talked about some of the things that can be attractive about starting an online business. In Episode 3 I’d like to talk about what these businesses look like.
What is an internet business?
What do they feel like?
How does the money get made?
I remember when I was starting my online adventure in 2007 I didn’t really understand any of this about how money moved around the internet.
Let me say that I feel like there are several different kinds of internet businesses that are approachable for the beginning entrepreneur. We’ll talk about each one of those here very briefly and then you can do some more research and work on your own to figure out the kinds of things that might interest you.
In general, one of the things that you can do to start an internet business is you can sell stuff online. You can get physical products, you can put up a website, and you can sell those physical products online. People can send you their credit card information and you can take that money to pay your costs and keep the profits.
That’s sort of like a traditional brick and mortar business, and there are lots of variations of that. You can get products drop-shipped directly from the manufacturer, a lot of times from China, and you can never touch the product. Or you can have products that for some reason live in your house.
I have a friend who has a very successful internet business in the beads industry making beaded jewelry and so forth, she’s able to ship products that she puts together by hand directly from her home. She’s able to do that very successfully and it’s become very famous in the beading community. One of the magical things about the internet is that you can pull these communities together from across the world and build a business out of those communities.
You can recommend or drive traffic to products and get a commission for those recommendations. This is known as affiliate marketing. It’s one of the things that I talk a lot about at LateNightInternetMarketing.com, it’s the way that I think is the best way to start an internet business if you’re going to start one on your own.
Start an affiliate marketing business where, for whatever reason, because you have an excellent blog, because you’ve created helpful content, you’ve generated traffic, you have viewers and people, you recommend products to those people or review products to mention products, and when people click on your very special link that’s coded to you and then subsequently buy that product you get a commission.
That’s another kind of internet business, this sort of commission sales or affiliate marketing business. You can be very strategic about that and choose to pick products and topics and subjects that are profitable, or you can really just focus on something that you care about. Maybe there’s something that you’re really passionate about where a lot of products are sold in the marketplace on the internet, there are ways you can build a business around that by putting helpful content out online and then monetizing those referrals in order to get business.
Another way that you can create an internet business that’s very straightforward is by being a publisher. You can have an online business where you create wonderful content and people read it. You can think of Time Magazine. Then with that traffic you decide to present them ads and you can sell those ads based on the number of visitors that you get or you can sell those ads based on the number of clicks that those ads draw.
One of the most popular programs for selling ads on the internet for these kinds of websites is Adsense from Google, which is a very famous ad program. A lot of times if you’re surfing the internet and you’re looking for information you may see that little “Ads by Google” sign, that’s Adsense. If you own that website and someone clicks on that ad, then you get a small fee for placing that ad. That fee can range from a few pennies to a few dollars, in some cases and in some niches. So that kind of publisher business is another internet business that you can create.
Another one that I think is really good for beginners is if you have a service that you can offer online, you can put up a website and start offering that service. Maybe you’re a bookkeeper and maybe you have a day job as a bookkeeper, but at night you want to be someone’s virtual bookkeeper. You get yourself four or five clients and you can do that. Maybe you’re a graphic artist and you can do great graphics, you can put up a website offering those services online. Maybe you’re a copywriter, or maybe you can edit things. There’s lots of things that you can do virtually these days through the magic of Dropbox and other tools that can help you build an online business.
The final thing that I’ll mention – and there’s lots of other good examples and this is certainly not an exhaustive list – is you can buy and sell things on eBay, or actually even these days on Amazon. That’s also a viable business model. I don’t think eBay is particularly great for beginners anymore, but once upon a time it was great.
Speaking of once upon a time, if you’re interested in a more detailed explanation of these sorts of things, a book that was great when it came out (back in 2008 or 2009) and is still good today for giving you an overview is Yanik Silver’s book Moonlighting on the Internet. You can get that at LateNightIM.com/moonlighting. That book is very inexpensive to buy and it gives a great overview. I will admit it’s a little dated, depending on when you’re hearing this, but from a fundamental standpoint it’s really good and it’s incredibly cheap. You can get it used for just a few pennies.
I hope that helps give you an overview of the kind of businesses that are possible with internet marketing. As always, I’m your host of the Late Night Internet Marketing Minute, Mark Mason. I’d love it if you’d come by the blog and tell me what you think about the show.