What’s The Best Way To Make Money?

I’ve been following a lot of online forums lately about internet marketing and how to make money online.  Over and over again I hear a similar question asked “what’s the best way to make money/make money online?”  This is typically followed by a litany of options such as “blogging, affiliate marketing, article marketing, creating an info product, a membership site, etc.”  I hear similar options thrown out in other fields such as “MLM, real estate, forex, trading stocks, etc.”  This is an atrocious place to start the conversation and these people are likely to be unsuccessful.  I thought I’d give a brief guide on where you should be looking to get the optimal results.

First, start by realizing that there is only one way to make money and that’s by selling something be it your time, your product, someone else’s product, eye balls, someone else’s time or product, etc.  The bottom line is the focus of making money needs to be on selling.  Every successful business is a sales organization, always and without exception.  So, for example, blogging or writing a book or article marketing won’t make you any money.  Selling a blog, or selling a book, or selling articles, or selling advertising will make you money potentially.  The starting question then is “what are you going to sell?”

Quick interjection here, some people might believe the initial question is “who are you going to sell it to?”  In building a marketing campaign that’s accurate but fundamentally you need something to sell before you can decide who to sell it to.  It is possible to look at a market find a gap in that market and fill it and understanding your market is critical but understanding your market won’t make you money, only selling something will make money.

So what to sell?  Understand that expertise adds value now and forever, in other words the best things for you to sell are things you’re an expert in and you might not be an expert in anything right now.  If that is the case you need to develop some expertise and the best thing to develop expertise in is something you’ve got a pre-existing interest in.  Trying to pick something you care nothing for and trying to become an expert in it can work but generally isn’t advisable because it can crush your motivation.

This area of interest will determine the industry/market you’ll be entering for example magic, or health, or dating, etc.  Generally, the more specific the better, though you can become too specific and consequently narrow your market so it’s too small.  Don’t be concerned about being too narrow initially just pick an area you have an interest in and have expertise or develop expertise, you can always widen later.

You might be asking doesn’t building expertise take a long time?  Yes, it does, this isn’t an overnight process it’s going to take learning but it’s going to be worth it long term.  There are lots of people trying to make money overnight, most of those people end up going broke fast, be committed to long term success and you’ll do much better the whole way along.

Having identified your market or industry you’ll be faced with “what do you sell within this market space?”  Here you need to recognize that you can sell anything, but what you sell will affect your lifestyle choices.  To quote Tim Ferris from “The 4 Hour Work Week” “I was sick of services and needed a product to sell”.  The message here is selling different things might be possible but each has consequences.  For example, if you were going to sell advertising then the key would be to produce a steady stream of content to attract an audience, which is what the advertisers will pay for, examples might be news, blogs, podcasts, online videos, etc.  If you’re going to sell services you might find you’re geographically restricted and you have to be present to deliver the service.  If you’re selling products you might have to physically purchase and ship them (though you could resell someone else’s products and use drop shipping), if you sell information you can deliver it easily electronically with virtually no capital investment required but the average dollar sale is typically lower.  Long term you’ll probably want to expand into multiple areas to maximize your assets but you need to start somewhere and where that is will depend on what resources you have available and what lifestyle you’re pursuing.  Typically the fastest easiest way to make larger amounts of money is by selling services, this is because your time adds value not found in other areas and each sale can be worth quite a lot.  Selling advertising takes a while because you need to build an audience so isn’t great if you want money quickly.  Selling products often requires up front capital so isn’t good for those who don’t have capital.  This means for most people getting started selling information, or services, or selling for someone else (affiliate) tend to be best because you can lower the capital required to get started and decrease the cycle time (services and affiliate sales are the fastest cycle time).

A quick note about being an affiliate, often people jump into this and they can make money at it, but the best way to do it is to be an affiliate for something in a field where you have an interest and expertise.  For example, what do you buy?  The reason this is helpful is because many people will get into a business only to discover what they are promoting isn’t that great and they have to invest in changing whereas if you have expertise you can promote what’s best and you’ll build sustainability, which offers better returns and is easier to promote.

The situation is a little more complex than this though, to make money at something you need to be able to not just sell it but sell it profitably.  What this means is your costs need to be low enough relative to what you’re selling it for that you’re keeping some of the money you bring in.  For many people this is the hardest part, anyone can make sales, but to make sales profitably is quite another matter.  This is part of the reason being an expert and selling something outstanding is helpful because it will make it easier to sell and potentially allow you to sell it for a premium but you still need sufficiently high margins to make it worthwhile.  Look for products where what you’re getting for selling them is higher for example say you’re acting as an affiliate for internet hosting services.  Yes, you want to select the best one, but you also want to select ones that will pay you well and that tend to convert well.

You also need to look for something where you can make repeat sales; this is where building a list comes in.  Understand this, virtually all the profit in business is made off repeat business.  The costs to get the customer to buy the first time will almost always eat up virtually all of your profit on that first sale, so long as you’re breaking even or slightly profitable on that first sale you’re in a good situation…assuming you can make subsequent sales to them because your cost to make those sales will be much lower.  In other words look for something to sell where you can get them to come back and buy something else, there’s very little money in one time sales and you have to be good at it to make it work.

There’s something else, your fastest, easiest, cheapest sales will come from people in your immediate circle, so pick something to sell that might appeal to people within that circle, it will give you someplace to start and build from.  This can apply to any area, products your friends buy, subjects your friends are interested in (in the case of providing news, information, etc.), or services your friends (or their friends) want or need.

That’s as good a start as any:

  • Focus on what you’re going to sell
  • Pick an area you have expertise in or develop expertise in an area you’re interested in
  • Sell something that supports you where you’re at and where you want to go
  • Sell something with good margins so you can do so profitably
  • Build a list and sell something where you can have repeat sales
  • Sell something your existing circle is interested in to kick start the process if possible

You’ll notice we haven’t talked about whether you should blog or article market or use PPC or social media or solo ads or print or direct sales, etc.  Those things all come later once you’ve got these fundamentals established.  Once you have those fundamentals established you look to answer the question “where are my most profitable buyers?” and then invest in marketing to them through those channels using compelling offers.  Test and measure what’s working, correct and continue.  That’s the formula.  For example, if you’ve decided to sell an information product on rose bush care you might do keyword research to see if people are searching for anything related, test it with PPC and then do SEO.   On the other hand maybe they aren’t searching for it and so you need to look at guest blogging on related blogs for people who love gardening, or get in the media, etc.  You need to do that research after you’ve determined what you’re going to sell and in fact you don’t even need to have anything to sell in order to do that research.

One of the best things you can do is test your assumptions by doing market research prior to producing the product to make sure there is sufficient demand.  This again is where going for something you’re interested in and some people in your immediate social circle are interested in is helpful because that proves there’s at least some demand probably fairly reasonable demand if you know 5-10 people who are interested because that’s a pretty significant percentage of the total people you know.

Start there and then come back to us for the next steps.  Contact us with any questions you might have by clicking “Ask a Business Question” in the lower right of the screen.

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