Choose Your Flavor of Online Business Opportunity...

 First, let's get three things straight.

  • You don’t have to be a computer whiz to operate an online home business. You’ll inevitably become more proficient over time, but you can start with little or no computer know-how ... provided you are prepared to learn, and to work through some frustrations.

  • You don’t have to have a web site or web sites to make money on the ‘Net.  It's true that most of the online home business opportunities demand one, or benefit from one ... but some do not.

  • You don’t have to have a product or products of your own to profit from an online home business.

And ... a warning.

By taking an interest in an online Internet business opportunity, you just became part of a target market … you are one of the people interested in Internet Marketing. Or, "making money from home."

You Are The Target for the Best of the Best!

Now, these are HOT markets that have the best marketers in the world drooling. Point being, if you pursue your interest you are going to be visiting the web sites of some highly experienced marketers (and many up-and-comers) … and potentially giving them an e-mail address to reach you with. You are going to read some of the best-written sales copy ever written, and you're going to invite some of these people to e-mail you even more persuasive copy on a regular basis.

So do be aware that these guys are very, very good at what they do! One reason I spent $15,000 on courses etc is because I consciously set out to learn a lot. But another reason is that some of these guys are just incredibly good at writing sales material (called “copy”) that creates an instant, urgent craving to buy whatever it is they are selling. And I’m a sucker for a great sales pitch (just ask my frequently disgusted partner or my even more frequently disgusted wife). I don't think I've ever met an online business opportunity I didn't like ... or at least, that's what they'll tell you.

There’s good news here – you can learn from these guys. And you SHOULD! They have an encyclopedic knowledge of virtually every online homebased business opportunity, good or bad. But please do be selective about buying. In my opinion, if you're going to make money you NEED some of the things they offer ... if you don't buy some things, you'll pay a "stupid tax" in terms of wasted time, wasted money, lost opportunities. But I am one of those who regularly commits the crime of buying something “better,” when I already own something designed to do the same darned thing … and I haven’t even needed it yet or used it yet.  So this is a case of, I suggest you do what I say, not what I do!

Are you an Opportunity or an Entrepreneur?

One of the Internet Marketing gurus, Rich Schefren, recently came out with what he called a "Manifesto" and one of the things he highlighted is just how easy it is to be engaged with so many opportunities, each needing a suite of separate skills, that you end up working linger hours than ever and getting nowhere. He made a crucial differentiation - between "Opportunists" who see every new product as a potential path to riches, and "Entrepreneurs" who have a clear vision of whare they're going and then judge every new product in terms of it's role in achieving their goals. It might be a superb product, capable of makinbg you money ... but if it's NOT on your clear path to success, it's just a distraction. Walk away.

When I Offer My Opinion ...

One last thing – most of the time when I suggest or recommend a course or software, it’s because I have it, and have read it or used it, and genuinely believe it’s either essential, or else it's useful to accomplish something easier than you could do by hand, or useful to accomplish something more quickly than you could do otherwise (I’ll tell you which of these applies), … and I’m convinced it’s good value if you intend to operate the appropriate type of online home business. If there’s a question mark against it – for example, perhaps I haven’t been too impressed by the customer service – I’ll tell you that, too. Sometimes I'll tell you what I think is the best, or the most appropriate, even if I haven't bought it yet; there are a few people whose opinion I trust and I'll look for their endorsement. (To my wife's regret, if the product is highly regarded, and I don't have it yet ... the chances are I'm just biding my time to justify buying it myself.)

The Different Opportunities

Ok, let’s take a look at some of the main types of online internet business opportunities. In fact there are an infinite number of opportunities, I come across new ones every day; but these are the dominant ones, in my opinion. As new ones take their place I'll add these, too; so come back and check periodically.

Now, there are many different ways to slice and dice the opportunities to help you decide whether they are what you are looking for – for example, whether an opportunity is best suited to pocket money or a candidate to help you make a full-time living, whether the technique demands that you sell to anyone within 3 feet of you, or whether you want to avoid contact with people entirely, I could categorize by what suits your personality or your skills or your level of computer literacy, whether you’re willing to break a few rules (but NOT the law! Everything I explain here is 100% legitimate).

I have a page dedicated to each of the opportunities I describe below where I go into much more detail on each.

1. The approach known as "GoogleCash." I LOVE this. No website, no product ... but with a half-hour to kill in a hotel room before dinner, or even while using the WiFi service at an airport, I can launch a campaign that makes money within a day ... or even within hours. However! While this is one of the approaches that sounds like a dream come true, and can indeed be very, very sweet, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. What I mean is that it's genuinely simple to do, technically, but it's not quite so easy to make money from it. But when you "get" it ... you can do very well. And you can do it in such a way that your risk is minimal. There’s an excellent download-able manual that explains how to do this, called GoogleCash by Chris Carpenter, but if you want to read my explanation first, click here.

The good: In theory you can be making money inside 15 minutes, no web site needed (so no web development software or hosting fees), no contact with people (so no selling!), no credit card processing, no customer service. And there is a decent dollar potential – while most people doing this probably make under $2000 a month from this approach, there are some making 5 figures a month just from this.

The bad: There's very little bad about it, except that in practice it’s not quite so easy as it sounds. And you CAN lose money while you learn the ropes if you're stupid enough to try to work it out for yourself. Sorry to be so blunt but the GoogleCash downloadable manual, supported by several how-to videos, is dirt cheap and excellent value because it teaches you about EVERY element you need for success, in thorough detail. Much of the material is relevant to several of the other online home business opportunities, too. It's extremely well written, and among the top 3 how-to courses I've bought. This book gave me the single biggest "aha!" of anything I've bought.

2. The Adsense Opportunity. While it DOES require you to build a website, or (much easier!) a Blog, this is almost a sure-thing to make at least pocket-money; and there are individuals earning $20,000+ per month from this. But the reality is that it it getting harder all the time to move beyond $30 to $50 per month per web site. (The good news is that you can build lots of sites relatively easily and inexpensively). Essentially, you place ads (Google Adwords) on a website, and attract traffic. People click on an ad ... Google pays you money. No customers, no products, no credit cards, no selling. This Introduction to Adsense walks you through the nature of the opportunity, but then there are 3 specific variations, each of which justifies it's own page:

3. Adsense on a Value-Added Content Site. You build a Content-filled theme web site, the more pages the merrier, using content that you personally write, or content that you pay a ghostwriter to write, or content that a ghost writer makes available to a limited number of people for a monthly fee, or else content that's free and already written, and available to you already on the Internet just for the asking. Guess which of these I prefer to start with?

With little effort you can make $30 per site per month on a site that takes 15 minutes to build. You can make anywhere between $50 (or less) and $300 (or more) a month from a site that takes you 10 - 40 hours. If you develop a well-conceived, good quality site you can earn $1000+ a month ... but be aware, what makes the difference is simple - how many visitors you get to your site. You'll find it much easier to get higher traffic levels to a better site. You'll find I provide a wealth of information on the Adsense-with-Content opportunity.

The good: No customers, no products, no credit cards, no selling, and if you do a few things right you almost can't miss. Plus, a content-filled site can have literally years of staying-power, years of income generation, without you doing a whole lot to it. Better still, if your site proves to be in a decent market (lots of traffic, lots of clicks) you can invest time and money to greatly improve the site and add Affiliate offers to make it MUCH more profitable.

The bad: You do have a learning curve on several skills that are probably new to you, you do have to spend a little cash on domain registrations and web hosting, and you do have to put some real time into it.

4. Adsense on a Software-Generated Site.  If the idea of generating the content for a 40 - 100-page website seems daunting ... then this is probably of interest! You use a software program to churn out web sites with (potentially) thousands of pages in just minutes; and you include Google Adsense ads on every page. Anytime a visitor to your site clicks on one of these ads, Google gets paid by the advertiser … and Google immediately pays you. You'll find a thorough review of the process on my page Adsense with a PC-Generated Site.

The good: These are relatively easy for someone who’s not afraid of computers, ideally someone who's not a complete beginner with computers. You don’t have to deal with customers or credit cards or bother with stuff like customer service. There's no selling. There are no customers. You almost can’t fail to make some money – $30 a month per site is common, and up to $300 a month do-able, I used this approach to generate 12 sites in a few hours and these made me $1500 in my first 45 days, just while testing. Unfortunately, the Adsense opportunity has changed and it's now much less common to hear of people doing $100+ a month (although many do).

The bad: Unless you’re prepared to invest more time in customizing them once built, these types of “generated” sites often don’t last long … the Search Engines don’t like them, and when they identify them, they effectively stop them from making much money for you by giving you a low position on ther Searches. Sometimes they'll spot you almost as soon as you're "up" and your site never gets any Rank in the Search Engines. Other sites ... it can take weeks, months, even years, for the Search Engines to identify you as an undesirable, during which time you can make some nice moolah from a few hours work, and you CAN extend the lifetime of a site by taking time to “disguise” it. Unfortunately, that takes more time, which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid by turning to automation.

Realistically, you have to assume they'll keep dying on you, so you have to keep generating them if you want to keep an income stream. And, you really need to assume that you'll put time into "disguising" them. At some point you have to wonder if you're better off going the Content-filled route. But even so ... using one technique I can build 5+ sites a day, comfortably, each of which is a potential added $30 and more a month.

While this site-generation route is still a very viable route - I'm still doing this, and expect to do so for a long time yet - there is another caution; the value of the clicks that advertisers pay Google, and Google pays you, has declined enormously and is likely to decline more. This might be countered as Yahoo and MSN services emerge and mature, and offer to pay more per click to entice you from Google.

5. Adsense with a Blog.  Blogging is 'hot" these days, and you can create Blogs on topics with the potential to attract a lot of visitors; then, put Adsense on the Blogs. Just as with the other two Adsense opportunities, if a visitor clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays Google, and Google immediately pays you. It's easy to generate a few dollars a month from this, and a Blog on a hot topic can generate $100 or $150 a month.

But if you're anything like me - meaning, fundamantally lazy - a red flag is already hitting you upside the head; do you have to post articles to the Blog on a regular basis? Because that could get real old, real fast. So, there are options to have software make automatic posts to your Blog. I devote a whole page to the Adsense on Blogs opportunity.

The good: Very, very easy to put into place if you aren't looking for the best results; and pretty easy even if you are looking for the best results and prepared to invest a little time.

The bad: If you want the Adsense income to be significant, you really need multiple Blogs, and they really should be WordPress Blogs, which means you need at least one domain registering plus a web hosting account. Then, in my opinion, you really need to have some software making automatic posts to the Blog for you; else, with multiple Blogs, it's a time killer. However, with the automated approach ... this can be useful!

Now, I have to tell you that #4 and #5 above are sort of “quick and dirty” ways to make some money with relatively little commitment and a short learning curve. Nothing wrong with that … but let’s be clear, you’re not really building a business with these (there are exceptions). You might also see debates where you are accused of creating the same kind of problem as satellite debris … creating “junk” sites. Meaning, the sites are truly not of much value to visitors (to be honest, from a selfish perspective of making money, this is an advantage; your content is so poor they feel obliged to click on an Ad!).

Should that bother you? It’s your call. But do remember, the Search Engine companies are NOT the law – they don’t own the Internet! If you choose to conform to their requirements, or not, that’s purely a commercial decision. No ethical or moral issue here! Putting a so-called “junk” site that creates income for you and provides qualified traffic for the advertiser who’s paying and praying for exactly what you’re giving them … remember, most billion-dollar Wall Street darling advertising companies do little but provide intense aggravation to everyone else (think, TV commercials, billboards on highways, pages and pages of ads in magazines) in order to make money for themselves while elevating their client’s brand name to make money for them, too.

OK, I’ll climb off my hobbyhorse here.

LIke the Adsense with Content opportunity, the opportunities I describe below come more under the heading of businesses that you can establish and grow.

6. Selling on eBay. Almost everyone has heard of eBay these days; but did you realize that more than 400,000 people make a full-time income by selling stuff on eBay? My write-up of The eBay Opportunity covers a lot of this ground.

The good: It really isn’t hard to make SOME money. There are an incredible number of different ways to use eBay for profit. And, you CAN build a business from eBay. And that business can be a very, very nice business indeed! In fact, there’s more good stuff here – eBay is one of the few businesses where instead of trying to find customers, millions of customers a day go to eBay, unprompted, wanting to buy something!  Another plus … you can often get into eBay business with little initial expense. And one more … you can often make SOME money, very quickly.

The bad: Unless you learn from the experts, this can be hard work for relatively little return.

7.  The Affiliate Marketing Opportunity.  Using the same type of Content-filled theme site that we use for Adsense marketing, you can attract traffic to web pages that promote other merchant's products. The 'Net is filled with merchants who'd love to find people willing to promote their products in return for a commission. So, the visitor arrives, clicks on a link that takes them to the merchant's own selling web site, and when they buy something the merchant credits you with the appropriate commission. This can be a few bucks for the sale of a book at Amazon, for example; or, several hundred dollars commmission on the sale of a piece of home fitness equipment. This is big business; many people on the Internet make a 6-figure income from selling other people’s products on the ‘Net and collecting a commission. I go through the whole thing in some depth in my page on Affiliate Marketing.

The good: this is a genuine opportunity to build a substantial, robust business. You can make anywhere from $100s to 100s of thousands of dollars a year from this route; with no products of your own, no credit cards to process, no customer service, and (optionally) no customer contact whatsoever. More, people with products are begging to find people willing to sell them on their behalf! You find a company willing to pay you commission, in a market with reasonable opportunities, build a site, attract traffic, and pocket the money. These sites can be money-makers for many, many years; if a merchant doesn't perform, or goes out of business, you simply replace the links on your site! And by the way ... if you take the smart route, you DO have customer contact; you collect opt-in names for your list and, over time, this list will yield you far more money than the sales off your site.

The bad: unless you outsource the content as I describe in the Adsense with Content section, or use pre-written Articles as I describe in that same section, which is what many do ... then this does take some real work; up front research, designing and building a website, developing a flow of traffic. You also have the learning curve of keyword research, web hosting, and site-building.

One variation of this is to use your web site to capture (voluntarily, and legitimately) the names of people interested in a local service; for example, insurance. Then “sell” (or loan) those names to a local business, for a fee per name, or a commission on closed deals. This can be quite lucrative.

There is also a form of automation available; many larger merchants have "datafeeds" which give affiliate marketers access to their databases, including product names, descriptions, photographs, pricing, etc. People with a bit of techie know-how can take this feed and generate enormous web sites, one or more products per page. I haven't done this, but I'm going to!

8. “Information Product,” or “How-to” product sales. You can develop an information product on almost anything ... although the recommended route includes research that pretty much guarantees that you have a market for the product, and that people are willing to spend money. Examples of information products include teaching parrots to talk, playing better golf, (teaching parrots to play better golf?), how to sell your house "for sale by owner," make better business decisions, cure back-ache … anything. Scrap-booking was “big” this year. Ditto dog training; weight loss is always big. And so on. More information can be found on my Information Products page.

The good: lots of dollar potential, and being an information product means it can be downloaded by the purchaser so there’s no physical product to print, package, and ship. There are also some excellent services that mean you don’t have to get involved in credit cards, either, or deal with returns or complaints or download problems and so on. They take care of all that.  Incidentally, you don’t have to be a good writer, or even knowledgeable on any topic, to take advantage of this. Also, the selling web sites are relatively small and simple. There is some serious money to be made on Information Products. Many marketers consider it to be the perfect business.

The bad: unless you outsource it (many do) this does take some real work; up front research, developing a product (this doesn’t have to be a daunting task), and building a selling web site (again, this does not have to be a daunting task).

9. Selling Physical Products from a store-front or catalog-type website; typically, products you’ll buy from the manufacturer or a distributor (unless you are yourself the manufacturer). This isn't an opportunity that appeals to me too much, to be honest, but I point you in the right direction in my section on selling physical products.

The good: well, the upside of this is that if you do a good job with the right products in the right markets you could end up with 7-figure sales just from the ‘Net. You make much more per sale than you would as an Affiliate; there are some astonishingly large sales figures from ecommerce sites operated by individuals.

The bad: this is a real business, it does mean real work! You can also find yourself having to deal with issues of purchasing, inventory, and shipping (although this is NOT inevitable; you can often work with manufacturers or distributors who drop-ship their products, or else work with fulfilment houses who handle all the stocking and shipping and even sometimes the order-taking and credit cards etc).

10. Joint Ventures (or JV’s as they are known). Now, these are interesting; essentially you find someone who has a list of people to which they regularly send e-mails or newsletters or ezines (some lists can be 100,000+ names, although this is a rare extreme); and you find someone who has a product that will appeal to those people on that list; and you coordinate the get-together of the two in return for a percentage of the profit. There are people able to generate 6 figure incomes from just one or two such JV’s a month. Of course, if you yourself have a product, or a list ... you can do the JV and cut out the middle man. If this appeals, take a more detailed look at the opportunity on my JV Opportunity page.

The good: no web site, no direct selling, no credit card transactions, and when you get one JV success under your belt more doors open to you, because this is very much a word-of-mouth world where building trust is important.

The bad: lots of networking, facilitation, coordination, … well, these are all negative from my perspective, I know others who revel in this type of work!

11. The Opt-in list and e-mail marketing Opportunity. For many of the different money-making channels I've already described, the REAL money is in getting a person’s e-mail address, then e-mailing offers, newsletters (with offers) or ezines (with offers) or mini-courses (with offers) or … you get the picture. In reality, you can get such a list without ever having a website as such; just from directing traffic to a name-capture page. It's far more common to do this via a respectable website, though.

List-building tends to be the skill, and the activity that separates the amateurs from the professionals. Many amateurs want the income from the sale or the Click and can't be bothered with all the work that goes into developing and maintaining and "milking" a list. But for the professionals, they'd happily trade the 1-time sale in return for the opportunity to sell to the person again and again ... which is what they get from having their e-mail address on their Opt-In List. Most Internet Marketers will tell you that if they lost everything in their business ... if they kept their list, they'd be making money within 24 hours. The potential is enormous; you'll find people who earn 5 figures in 2 or 3 days from a single mailing to a good List. There are a few things to consider, as I discuss in my page on Opt-In Lists and e-mail Marketing.

The good: If you have a decent list, you can convert it into income on demand! This is close to the ultimate "make more money almost at will" objective I mentioned on the home page. It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to maintain a list and "work" it effectively, and the dollar potential is substantial.

The bad: There is more work involved than simply putting Adsense on your site, or links to merchant sites. You need to "nurture" your list, with regular but not-too-frequent mailing, to establish credibility and build trust.

And finally, one opportunity that is highly-touted on the 'Net but one I’m not going to address:

12. Multi-level marketing, or MLM. I hear that MLM CAN be a very lucrative business, and the Internet CAN be a wonderful place to grow an MLM business, but I simply don’t have any affinity whatsoever for MLM so I’m not going to talk about it. Sorry.