The next thing you need to start an online business for free and make money is a product to sell. This is different from a niche.
A niche is the type of product you plan on selling and helps you determine how you will sell your product and what you are going to say to promote it.
A product is the actual item you are going to sell. Of course, if you already have an idea of your own for a product then you are most of the way there. I will discuss more about selling your own product later. However, let’s start by assuming that you need one. There are a few options.
A downloadable product and it is by far the easiest product to create, store and sell. They have every advantage but one. If you are in Australia, you will have to set up the download page yourself. As of the time of writing, there is only one shopping cart platform online that allows for free storage and download of digital products that I am aware of. That shopping cart is called Groove Kart by Groove and it is only available in the USA. You can use all of Goove’s other products and link to your own payment processor in Australia except Groove Kart.
Your Own Digital Product
Selling your own digital product is the most profitable because once you have written it there is no more expense and almost every penny that you earn from it you get to keep. I say almost because, as you will see later every sale you make will incur a fee through your payment processor. Don’t worry though, you only pay that when you make a sale so it comes straight out of that sale and you still haven’t spent a penny.
Selling Someone Else’s Digital Product Affiliate Marketing
If you don’t have a product already then you need to get one.
Selling Someone Else’s Digital Product is called Affiliate Marketing.
There are lots of affiliate marketing sites and programs around, all with different products and different conditions and you do have to be careful here as some of them are scams. So you need to pick one with a good reputation. The main two that I recommend are Clickbank and Amazon.
Like I said there are lots of other affiliate sites out there but if you are new to the online world, and why would you be reading this if you weren’t, then I would stick with Clickbank and Amazon until you get to know what you are doing and learn how to recognise a scam.
The most well-known Digital product affiliate program is Clickbank. It is free to join. You will still need a PayPal account to get paid.
You will need to spend time learning how to use it but Google it. The information is out there and plenty of it is for free.
All the products on Clickbank, as with most affiliate sites, have landing pages. A place that you can use to direct potential customers so you don’t even need a website.
Once you are registered with Clickbank every time someone goes to that affiliate site and buys the product you get a commission. It is all automatic and you just have to keep sending traffic to that product.
Choose your product wisely though and only choose one. You are going to be busy enough with selling one product or at least one type of product. If you try to split your time between different types of products you will almost certainly will fail. I speak from experience.
You are better off choosing a popular product to start out with. Don’t worry about the competition you just do your work and you can begin to make money.
On this, you do have to be careful with using Clickbank. They have recently introduced a time limit on how long you can have an account before they lock you out. You can reapply and they will let you back in unless you did something really wrong but it does mean that once you sign up you need to get to work promoting the product. If your account lapses you will need to change the links (called hop links on click bank) on your page if you want to promote the same product.
Promoting Clickbank when you have no money means you will have to put in lots of hard work. My suggestion would be to create your blog and write lots of long content per page and a lot of pages on your niche. When you have about 200 posts then subscribe to click bank and add the product to your content or put an ad on all your pages. You will need lots of good quality content on your blog to get enough traffic for people to want to see your product and buy it.
“200 posts, That is a lot!” you say and it is. Is there a quicker way? Sure but it involves paying for ads. Yes, there is a way to do that if you have no money but it involves getting money to pay for the ads. Either by selling stuff on eBay or Gumtree or You can raise money by doing paid surveys.
“Surveys?” you say. “I like doing surveys,” you say. But before you get too excited about doing surveys read my stuff about the pros and pitfalls of doing them. It’s in my next post.
Amazon has an affiliate program. Basically, you put an ad for or a link to a specific Amazon product on your blog. Their returns are usually not as good as Clickbank and all the countries except the USA (and they look like they are planning to do it) have introduced a 3-month limit on your account. that is if you don’t sell anything in three months they will close your account. I am told that this doesn’t apply to Onelink. A program within the Amazon affiliate program so, particularly if you sign up for an Amazon affiliate in a country other than the USA, I recommend you use the Onelink program. That way you may get some income whilst you work hard on your blog. As I said it is not a lot of money but it is a good way to start.
If Amazon ever makes it so all their programs are time-limited you will just have to do what I suggested for Clickcank above.
There are a number of ways you can utilise Amazon to make money outside of a blog. Including using eBay and Gumtree or doing surveys (see next post) as I said for Clickbank. There are others that will promise you that you can make a fortune for little money down but they all require you to join their program that often costs thousands of dollars. The simplest way to make money for free is to put Amazon ads on your blog.
A Word about Amazon Money Making Systems
There are systems that say you can use Amazon to make money for you. I suspect that like all these things some of them are actually good. But they all cost quite a bit of money to get into and get started. Even if once you get them started they may cost you next to nothing to keep them going. Even if you can make a fortune with these systems, that is not what this series is about. This is about making money online for no money. Buy them if you want, but wait until you are at least starting to make regular money and test them with money you can afford to lose.
Other Products To Sell: Dropshipping
There are other things that you can sell online without having to buy the product first.
The most common one is called Dropshipping.
Dropshipping is where other people let you sell their products. You receive the money take your cut and send the rest to the company you are dropshipping for and they do the rest.
You are going to need a website with some sort of sales cart. I recommend ECWID because you can sell up to 5 or more physical products on this platform for free. They even let you build a web page you can promote. But it does mean that you are going to have to learn to build and operate it. However, they do make it pretty simple with good instructions and helplines. If you can raise some money as I suggested above, you can even do paid ads directly to your ECWID page. But the big advantage of ECWID is that you can add their product page, by copying and pasting a little bit of code they give you, directly to your blog. Including a Google Blogger blog. I will comment more about ECWID in another post.
The Pitfalls of Dropshipping:
- Make sure you join up with a reputable drop shipper. I myself have been taken for a ride by a couple of them and I don’t want you to. The problem is that I don’t know how to advise you on how to make sure that the drop shipper is reputable. The best I can say is to ask around, check reviews and think of lots of questions and if they are happy to answer them to your satisfaction then they should be Ok. With that in mind, World Wide Brands seems to be the most reliable source for this. But they are only USA businesses. Although many of them will ship internationally.
- Dropshippers can be slow to update you on out-of-stock products. You have to be comfortable enough with the product that emailing your customers about an item that is out of stock will not lose them as future customers.
- You are in competition with everybody else who uses that company for products. Sometimes including big company stores. It needs to be a product that sells.
- Disreputable drop shippers may even hold out on you for their own customers. Telling you a product is out of stock and then selling it directly to your customer that you gave them.
- At the time of writing, there are no reputable Australian Dropship sites. You will have to ask local businesses for products you really have an affinity for if they are willing to dropship for you. Then be prepared to explain it to them. I did this with Judo suits for a while and I was quite happy with it.
- The margin of profit can be very low. But, particularly when you are starting out anything is better than nothing.
Don’t get me wrong if you get a good partnership with a drop shipper you can do very well out of it. As long as you don’t sell a product that locks you into only one drop shipper and you are prepared to quickly Drop any Drop shipper who does anything disreputable.
Your own Physical Product To Sell
Better than dropshipping is having your own physical product.
The upside to this method is you get to control stock and quality.
The downside is you have to be in charge of all the costs associated with it including shipping.
If you make it yourself or if you have a credit arrangement with suppliers the downside to this is always paying for it.
Again ECWID is my recommendation for processing payments and displaying products.
Now you have all the parts it’s time to build them into a method of making money.
- Build a blog
- Promote your free digital book or products, physical or digital. Preferably by placing an ad on your blog using tools on your blogging platform or manually if you have to. Avoid sales talk about your product in your blog directly it makes things boring. See my swim teaching blog and my Martial Arts Judo blog as examples.
- When you make enough money buy traffic through ads on your favourite social media or Google (yet another learning curve).