Making Money Online: What Every Beginner Should Know

The following is a guest post from Will at Former Banker.

It’s no secret that I love the concept of passive income. I often tell my friends that I would rather earn $40K/year from passive income than $100K/year where I hold a 9-to-5. So you can imagine that as soon as I learned that people were actually making money online, my interest was piqued!

Another thing that I make no secret of is that I lined the pockets of countless “gurus” in my eagerness to make money online quickly. The only people who made money were the ones I was buying those “guaranteed” programs and systems from. It took me a while before I finally admitted that I wasn’t going about it right. It was time to come to grips with the fact that I was going to have to put in the work.

There are so many people out there peddling get-rich-quick programs aimed at newbies that it’s sickening. There is no silver bullet. Making money online requires work, and lots of it, before you reap the rewards. Oh well, enough ranting, here’s what I wish I knew as a beginner, and that I think in turn every beginner ought to know if they’re going to make it in this business.

  1. Internet Marketing is marketing.  The Internet is just a medium. If your goal is to build a viable online business, you’re going to have to hone your marketing skills. And yes, that means reading good old marketing books that are a reference on the subject.
  2. SEO matters… Search Engine Optimization is an essential tool if you want to put your website in front of people when they’re looking for what you have to offer. If you’re selling, say, Dragonball action figures, your business will do much better if your site is in the top 3 results for people searching “rare dragonball action figures”. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is not important. Expand into keyword selection and keyword targeting is way beyond the scope of this article, but you should start your research on the question “what’s a buying keyword”.
  3. but is only part of the picture. While you’re feasting on search engine traffic, keep in mind that search engines are a notoriously fickle bunch and constantly update their algorithms. Your #1 ranking today can become a #57 ranking tomorrow. You need to implement ways to 1) retain a part of that traffic and 2) develop other sources of traffic. This way you have a built-in audience and that part of your business is impervious to changes in your rankings, and you can upsell a certain percentage of those people.
  4. Getting your business off the ground will be a full-time job. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your website will grow by leaps and bounds while you’re putting an hour or two into it. Getting a website off the ground requires a lot. You will be learning about marketing, learning about SEO, brushing up on your technical knowledge to make your site look and work the way you want it to, developing a twitter following, growing your Facebook fan count, networking with other bloggers, writing guest posts to drive traffic. Oh and this is on top of actual writing content on your website.
  5. To succeed you need to specialize first, and then diversify. This sort of sums up points 2 and 3. SEO will give you the highest return on investment in a relatively short amount of time. To do it successfully, you’re going to have to focus on a handful of niches and go after them. Once you gain a foothold, you can’t afford to stand still; you have to diversify into other income streams and sources of traffic. If well put together, those income streams will be complementary your initial product/service and (ideally) more profitable.

Each of these points could easily be a post or series of posts. I can even argue that there’s enough there to build 5 whole blogs! There is a lot to learn, but there is also a limit to how much you can learn if you’re not actually DOING anything.

You won’t be able to learn EVERYTHING there is to know before you start. Starbucks as we know it isn’t what Howard Schultz had in mind. He came up with an idea, tested, kept what worked, and discarded what didn’t. But he was only able to test and refine because he took action. You need to do the same. And don’t be surprised if you end up with something totally different from what you had imagined in the first place.

Draw inspiration from Yoda (yeah, I’m a Star Wars fan):

Try not! Do or do not. There is no try.”

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