We all know that a lot of money is changing hands on the internet and the amount is growing every day, but how do you get your hand into the game? This article will show you how to get started and start climbing the internet money ladder no matter your level of experience. Never in history have you had so many options available to you at so little expense.
The First Thing To Understand
Platforms! You must understand platforms to get off to a real start to making money on the internet and you have come to the right place. Just because you have an internet connection doesn’t mean you are set to make money, you have to plug into some internet platform to make money. What is an internet platform? The simple answer is they are an organized way to communicate offers and take in the money. A platform is the nuts and bolts that enables you to make an offer, someone see that offer, accept it, then purchase it and often to have it shipped to them. When it comes to making money, platforms are everything.
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Here is an important point whether you are on the internet or in the real world: To make significant money you must understand commercial platforms, that means what they are, how they work and how to use them, even how to make them.
Let’s start with a real world example and then take it to the internet world. A Walmart store is a huge money platform. Go to Walmart and you can see the item, pick up the item, know the price of the item, buy the item and go home with it. That is a real world, bricks and mortar platform for making money, but get this, they do pretty much the same thing over the internet on their website as they do in the store. You can’t handle the merchandise, but you can see it in several pictures. Just like the store you can check it out, see the price and buy it. The Walmart brick and mortar store is the Walmart brick and mortar platform and the Walmart internet site is the Walmart internet platform. Simple so far, right? Right!
Take Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Craigslist and Walmart, the internet sites of these companies are all internet money platforms. All of these and many, many more dot-coms are internet money platforms. Not all dot-coms are internet money platforms, but all traditional internet platforms are dot-coms or have a commercial “company name”.com internet address. This may seem obvious, but bear with me. It gets better.
Your First Decision
The first decision you will have to make when it comes to your online business and platform is whose platform will you use, yours or someone else’s? You can sell items on Amazon’s platform or eBay’s platform, any other company’s platform or you can make your own platform. It doesn’t have to be expensive to make your own, but it probably will be time-consuming and even frustrating if you aren’t familiar with things like shopping carts, payment systems and figuring state to state sales tax.
If you aren’t familiar with internet sales and marketing I suggest you practice first by buying some things online and then selling some things online using someone else’s platform. Just about anything you can buy at a bricks and mortar store you can buy online. Get your shopping list and get started. Once you learn how it works you can climb the internet ladder from buyer to seller and on to your own platform if you wish.
What Are The Successful Companies Doing?
When you buy things online first pay attention to how they are presented. Did they use a picture? More than one picture? Other graphics? Buyers Reviews? Did they offer other options? Did they offer an up-sale; offering something more expensive or maybe an accessory or a bulk package of multiple items to make the value of the total sale go up, hence the term up-sale?
Next, notice how you check out. Did you go to another page? Did you go to another company’s website that processed the order? What logo’s did you see along the way? Different credit card companies? Processing companies? Did you see a refund policy?
What options did they offer for shipping? Did they have a standard shipping choice that was included in the purchase price? Did they offer different shipping companies and perhaps the United States Postal Service as an option? Do they offer international shipping? You had better figure that one out when you offer something or you might be unpleasantly surprised to find out how expensive it is to ship 30 pounds of merchandise to a remote area of the world and you were offering free shipping!
Starting With Someone Else’s Platform
So you make oak widgets for the dining room. You thought it would be nice to sell them on the internet. Great idea, but how are you going to do it and how will you get paid? Why not start with someone that has figured that all out? Etsy is a platform for selling arts, crafts and certain other merchandise. That might be a good place to start. Then there is eBay where you can auction off products. Put “selling arts and crafts” into a search engine and you will find many more.
Here is the advantage with eBay or some similar online auction company, if you don’t know what to charge for your product put a few up for auction on eBay and see what they bring. Cheaper than paying a company to analyze your product, search the market for similar items and prices, get back to you in a few months with an estimated market price and a big bill!
PayPal and eBay have split, but it still is nice to have a PayPal account. You can get one and a business debit card for free. I have one in my pocket. Square and other companies process payments online. There was a time you had to go to a bank and pay ridiculously high fees and sign contracts to have a merchant account to process payments online. Not anymore. Don’t like PayPal or Square? Other payment processors are a search engine search away. Speaking of search engines Google has a payment system and so does Apple. It seems like everyone is getting into this, even Microsoft.
What about Craigslist for the things around the house you could trade for cash and not miss? Craigslist is a little different because people often meet in person, exchange the money at the meeting and the buyer simply carries the item home. Still it is a platform and you could learn some things while cleaning out the basement or garage and make money to boot!
Your Very Own Platform
Creating your very own platform doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does involve some work. Buy your domain name from a domain name registrar. Go back to the search engine and find one you like, then enter some choices you like on the registrar’s available name search engine and pick one that is not taken. Should cost about ten bucks and the price of a coffee give or take. Now find someone to host it, that is put it online for you. You can find free hosting using a search engine and if you are learning free is good enough to start.
Follow the hosting company’s instructions to link your domain to their hosting site and you are now on the internet. Well, you do need to put up a website, but you can drag and drop to do that with a little text editing and maybe a picture or two from your smartphone. YouTube has videos that show you how. Weebly is one popular free hosting company, but there are others. Start for free and if you need more options you pick a monthly paid plan that fits your needs.
Digital Product Options
So you finally finished that great novel you have been working on since the kids were in diapers. Amazon has a Kindle eBook service where you can publish a digital book and keep most of the money that comes in from the sales. Maybe you made a three mp3 recorded series on fly fishing or making chocolate cakes or how to do anything. Gumroad is a popular platform for the sales of digital products like these, that means eBooks, videos and courses with multimedia including PDF files for guide and workbooks. Once again, they aren’t the only one.
With digital products there are so many options that it is hard to justify creating your own sales machine from start to finish. I have websites that promote my products and then seamlessly link the buyer to another site and company that handles the sales and downloads.
People have to find what you have to sell. If you put your son’s skateboard on Craigslist someone will see it, probably a lot of people. If you put it on your new website there is a good chance that only you and your close friends you show your neat new website to will see it. You have to promote your website and your products if you use your own platform and it doesn’t hurt if you promote them if you use someone else’s platform.
The topic of promotion is much too big to cover here, in fact, if you were to count the content on the internet a large percentage is on this one topic and that is too much to cover in an article. On the other hand I can’t leave you without a clue, back to the search engine and enter terms like “internet marketing,” “internet promotion,” “product promotion,” “advertising on the internet” and you should find more than enough to keep you busy for a lifetime or two. While you are looking, you might as well learn about AdWords, Facebook ads, banner ads and network ads, so enter that in too.
What To Do Next
So what do you do next? Start! Sell something on Craigslist and learn how to set up an account. See how they handle sales. Make a digital trip over to eBay and Etsy to see how they work. If you don’t have something to sell, then keep your eye out for something you can resell. Since you have got that search engine warmed up enter “drop shipping,” “drop ship services” and “drop ship products” to find something you can resell.