Contrary to popular belief, working for an employer isn’t the only way of making a living.
How today’s entrepreneur-friendly culture plays into this opportunity
If you ask me, we live in the most entrepreneur-friendly culture in history. Hear me out.
At this moment, almost everyone in the U.S. (and a large portion of the global population) has access to the internet. Most people in the U.S. can get out of bed in the morning, walk to their computer, and open up a web browser.
We live in the Information Age. Because of the fact that anyone can ask Google any question, we can instantly have answers to almost any question we can think of! This is such an empowering concept for each individual’s knowledge base and society as a whole.
But it is even more empowering for aspiring entrepreneurs…
In the 1900’s, if you wanted to start your own business, that meant writing a business plan, getting a loan from the bank, finding an office or storefront to move into, and trying to attract customers to visit you and do business with you. For many brick-and-mortar stores, foot traffic (people walking by your store) plays a huge role in total sales.
Besides those customers who were just passing by and happened to come into your store, you also had to spend lots of time and energy on marketing your business to other prospective customers in your geographical area, hoping that your newspaper ad, radio ad, or billboard draws more people to your store sometime within the next month.
That is no longer the case.
Nowadays, if a person has a decent idea for a new company, there are many cases when it is very feasible to operate that business completely out of their house, depending on the complexity of the business.
Instead of having to rely on that foot traffic like in the 1900s, we can rely on internet traffic.
Let’s say, for example, you are passionate about brewing beer. You decide you want to start a business selling beer brewing supplies. Instead of having to get a physical storefront, stock it with inventory, and wait for people to come in, you can setup a Facebook page and a website (which anyone can learn to do with a small amount of work – more on that in a future post). This can be done in a weekend.
Once you have your homebrewing website created, you can find beer brewing communities all over the internet who are just as passionate as you are about the hobby! Within 3 minutes, I was able to find a couple Facebook pages of 20,000+ people and some Reddit communities of 200,000+ people.
Yes. 200,000 people. Who love homebrewing. That you can write to. On a free platform. Doing business just got much easier.
In 2017, 81% of the U.S. population used social media. That’s around 260 million people. I think it’s safe to say that, out of that many people, you can definitely find a sub-niche of people who enjoy the same things you do (or who fit your business’s target demographic).
Methods people are using to make a full-time income online
Although more and more people continue to catch on to the internet business trend, there are still many methods that still work very well in 2018 for making money online, from home.
This guide isn’t all-inclusive by any means, but is meant to cover the basics of each strategy as well as give you a good starting point to learn about these subjects.
It is definitely possible to incorporate a few of these methods at the same time, but I recommend starting with one and completely getting the hang of it before expanding to a new method.
Here are a few of the different strategies explained.
Note: Before pursuing any of these methods, I highly recommend that you do your own research and learn about it more in-depth, to see whether or not it’s for you. I’m providing a somewhat high-level description. If you would like me to cover more details of any of these topics, let me know in the comments!
Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA, has become more popular as Amazon continues to grow. I have seen 60-year-olds with no technology experience at all make $100,000+ per year doing FBA.
What is it?
Amazon relies on individuals sending them inventory, to keep things in stock. Yes, you read that right – Amazon, the multi-billion dollar company, relies on people like you and me to replenish their inventory in their warehouses.
How can I start?
You start by getting a free app on your phone called Amazon Seller. Then, go to a big-box store like WalMart, etc. Head to the clearance aisle and begin scanning items using the Amazon Seller app. The app will tell you what Amazon will pay you for that product. After you have that number, you compare that to the low price the product is being sold by Walmart for and determine whether or not it would be worth buying at Walmart and selling on Amazon.
The idea is to find products that are being sold for a really low price in physical retail stores (or online), buy them for that price, and send them to Amazon to sell at a higher price.
This practice is called Retail Arbitrage (or Online Arbitrage if you’re purchasing online), and is a real economic method of regulating the market.
It is very easy to find success using this method, as long as you’re willing to put in the legwork of driving to retail stores and scanning products. One reason I like this method because it doesn’t require much money to get started. Lots of people have bootstrapped their way up in the FBA world by starting with $100 and turning that into $250, then turning that into $750, and so on. The key is to stick with it.
If you would like to learn more about how to do Amazon FBA / retail arbitrage, I recommend checking out Charles Leslie’s YouTube channel.
Amazon Private Labeling
This method also involves the great Amazon, but in a slightly different capacity. Instead of buying products and reselling them on Amazon, by using the Private Labelling method, you actually source your own products and sell them on Amazon.
The main difference between this program and the FBA explanation above is that this route involves slightly more research but tends to provide a much better profit margin.
You could do this in almost any niche on Amazon. The key is to find products that are popular, but where there aren’t many sellers that are completely overpowering the other products in the category.
For example, let’s say you want to sell dog leashes. After looking at number of reviews for different products within certain keyword searches on Amazon, you’ve found that it fits your criteria for a potentially feasible niche (Check out The AZ Code if you’d like to know precisely what to look for in a good Amazon product). At this point, you look at the other dog leashes on the Amazon marketplace, their descriptions, images, reviews, etc. Analyze the hell out of each listing to see if you can find any opportunities.
One really effective tool when analyzing your potential competition on Amazon is to look at their reviews – specifically, 3-star reviews. These are comprised of people who are overall not completely dissatisfied with the product, but can clearly think of some improvements that should be made to the product to make it 5-star worthy (1-2 star reviews mostly completely dislike the product, while 4-5 star reviews mostly appreciate the product).
If you look at the 3-star reviews and see that lots of users with the retractable dog leash was 20 feet long instead of 10 (for example), you check out the competition to see if any of them offer a 20 foot leash. If not, you may have a solid differentiator.
After all, that’s what you’re looking for – a slight differentiator to give the customer a firm reason to buy your product instead of someone else’s.
I could go into many more paragraphs of detail here, but for the sake of brevity, I recommend you check out the The AZ Code to learn more about this topic. There is lots to learn, and you need to learn it absolutely correctly if you’re going to invest $1,000 or so into your first run of private label products.
Long story short, once you’ve done your research and have found the product you want to list on Amazon, this process involves finding a supplier (easy once you know the steps), getting the product created, then having it shipped directly to the Amazon warehouses.
This is typically around a 2-month process from research to the time your Amazon listing is posted and selling, but it can be well worth the wait, as lots of people have shown crazy profit margins using this method.
I’ve seen successful Amazon private labelers buy their product for $1.50 after shipping and sell it for $20 on Amazon, again and again and again and again.
The possibilities are truly endless here.
You don’t need a million subscribers/followers to be an effective YouTuber or Instagram influencer. Believe it or not, most of us are knowledgeable in something. I define the term ‘knowledgeable’ as knowing more than 95% of the population about a certain topic – not necessarily being an absolutely authoritarian on a topic.
People are constantly searching Google and other sites for How To tips in every topic imaginable.
One way of becoming an influencer (whether on YouTube, Instagram, or other platforms) is to find that thing (or one of those things) that you’re an knowledgeable in, and create a channel around it. This gets you focused on a certain niche, and the more content you create on that channel, the more of an authority you’ll become in the niche.
Back to the beer brewing example, you don’t need to have 20 years of brewing experience in order to create content teaching someone how to follow the brewing process, the difference between different styles of beer, or which supplies to have on hand for their first brew day.
YouTubers are able to monetize their channels using two main methods:
- Ad revenue: Once they begin getting subscribers and a few thousand views per video, turn on ads through YouTube’s settings. YouTube then sends them a check for ad revenue for each of their videos, regularly.
- Sponsorships: Let’s say I have a YouTube channel about bicycles – bike maintenance, races, helmet cam footage, etc. If my videos are attracting a somewhat large audience, it’s in the best interest of large bicycle companies like Specialized or Trek to reach out to me (or if they don’t reach out to me, I could reach out to them) to have me mention their products in my videos. In return, they would pay me $x,xxx per video. This is just a hypothetical situation, but that’s essentially how YouTubers make money through sponsorships.
How can I start?
To start a YouTube channel, you don’t need a $1,000 camera or a home studio complete with a green screen. All you need is your smartphone’s camera.
The whole goal of creating a niche YouTube channel should be to simply get the information out into the world. It doesn’t need to be a professionally-produced 4k video in order for people to get value from it. They’re searching for an explanation on a certain topic, and as long as you’re able to communicate that to them effectively and they get some value out of your video, it’s effective.
This is basically the same idea as the YouTube influencer method above, but in blog form. Blogs can consist of writing, photos, videos, and any other type of media you would like to incorporate.
Again, the idea here is to provide as much value on a niche-specific topic as possible.
One major benefit of blogging versus Youtubing is the fact that you own the content on your blog.
Why does this matter?
If for some reason YouTube doesn’t like your videos, or worse, YouTube shuts down or changes their policies to make it harder for users to upload videos, users would run the risk of that income stream being completely wiped out. (For the record, this is another totally hypothetical explanation. Something to consider, nonetheless.)
This is why niche blogging is desirable to lots of people. It’s also relatively easy and inexpensive to get into.
Really all you need is a domain name (around $11.99/year through GoDaddy), and a hosting plan (I highly recommend BlueHost for its ease-of-use and customizability).
There is a large community of people online who make a full-time income with affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is essentially getting a “referral commission” by recommending products to people, and those people eventually buying the products.
You’ve seen the YouTube videos of people reviewing products, right? Those videos typically have an Amazon affiliate link in the description. Once the user (who was very interested in the product already, hence why they searched for the review video on YouTube) clicks the Amazon link and buys the product, the original video-poster is paid some commission by Amazon. From Amazon’s perspective, it’s basically a ‘thank you’ for sending them a buyer.
This can be a really effective strategy if you have a captive audience of people who are already in the market for a certain category of products. You’re essentially acting as a middle-man to introduce the warm leads to products that would solve their problems or fit their needs.
If you’re interested in pursuing the Amazon affiliate program, search Google for “Amazon Associates” and you can sign-up for free. It’s very easy and doesn’t need to be expensive to promote whatsoever.
Besides Amazon, there are also many digital products for affiliate marketers to promote. To dive into a massive affiliate marketplace (again, for free), sign up for an account with Clickbank and click on Marketplace to start searching by category.
If you would like to learn more about this method, check out Zach Crawford’s YouTube channel. He has been in the affiliate marketing game (among others) for many years and is wildly successful. Zach suggests some excellent tips for getting started.
Are you already skilled in some specific area like graphic design, web design, copywriting, data entry, programming, video production, market research, presentations, transcription, translation, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Quality Assurance (QA), or something similar? If so, there are lots of people who would happily pay you for your services.
Combo that online work with offline advertising around your city and you can easily make a full-time income out of that.
In the meantime, you’ll be working your ass off and continuing to develop those skills (becoming even better at them, so people will eventually pay you even more), and getting a healthy paycheck.
Sounds like a good gig if you ask me!
Creating and selling a digital course
If you ask me, this method is the most work upfront, but can potentially yield ridiculous results.
First, find a niche that you’re knowledgeable about, such as beer, internet marketing, horse grooming and caring, fashion, bike maintenance, car repair, etc.
Then, put together a series of videos teaching the audience everything they need to know about that topic. The key here is to not put these videos on YouTube, but to build a website (fairly simple to do, it just takes walking through a few tutorials) and close it off to the public. Only people with membership access to your website can access the videos (typically called modules).
Building an e-commerce store
Technology today makes it very easy to start your own e-commerce web store.
Much like the other methods, choose a niche that you want to focus on: outdoors, fashion, weird gadgets, household appliances, etc.
After you have chosen your desired niche, I recommend using Shopify to create your storefront. Shopify is incredibly intuitive – almost a drag-and-drop type of interface.
Once you’ve added your products to the store and have a plan in place to set your brand apart – give your store a sense of style to differentiate it from the other stores across the web.
Of course, there are many more methods than these 8 that can be used to make a living online, but these stand out to me as the most used. I also intentionally chose these methods because, with some research, you can find a lot of solid insight on each of them for free on YouTube. Essentially, no matter which method you choose, you can find the resources for free online to know everything you need to know to become successful in that venture.
The other absolutely critical key to success when pursuing the dream of making a living online is a person’s ability to choose one method and stick with it until they’re successful at it. In our ‘shiny object’ culture, it is really easy to not find success with one of these methods after 2 weeks of trying, then see the next big opportunity promising to make you a million dollars by next week. Whichever method you choose, try your best to remain 100% focused on that and only that until it is generating you a healthy income, then perhaps pursue additional ventures.
Either way you slice it, YOU CAN DO THIS!
Have you tried, or are you currently pursuing any of the methods I mentioned above? If so, I’d love if you left a comment sharing your experience. It could help others reading this!
Do you have questions about a specific tactic I mentioned, or want me to cover one of them in more detail? Let me know in the comments.