OK, are you sitting down? Good.
I'm going to be giving you some straight, honest talk for the next few minutes. It's not going to be pretty,
and you might not like what I have to say, but I think you might need to hear it.
I know I did.
In The Beginning...
Before I get into it, let me take you back before the dawn of time, back before the last ice age, back when I first decided to try making money online.
I was taking care of my 80 year old grandmother who needed 24/7 care. Our family did not have enough money to put her in a care facility, and we certainly could not afford a live-in caretaker.
As the only grandchild who was not married, I ended up moving in with her so I could take care of her during her final few years.
I couldn't go out and get a job, so I turned on my computer to see what I could find.
I'll save ALL the gory details for another time, but suffice it to say, I got hooked on the idea of Easy money.
Boatloads of money, without the hassles or headaches one has when running a "real" business.
This was obviously a way lazy people could make tons of money.
And since I myself was NOT lazy, I figured that I would make an absolute killing.
I could outwork and outperform ANY of those lazy people who just wanted a way to make money without having to actually DO anything to earn it.
My first go was a huge success. Without very much effort at all, I was able to get 4,000 people on my email list in less than two months.
But I couldn't figure out why nobody was replying to me, or buying anything I offered.
In month number 4, I discovered by accident, that out of the (by then) over 5,000 people on my email list, only 300 of them were ever getting my emails.
I was connecting through AOL, and the page would "time out" any time I send a broadcast mailing to my list.
Only about the first 300 messages ever got sent at a time.
The moment I discovered that, I sent to my list through a different service provider, but still didn't get any response.
By itself, that would have been something that could be overcome. But before I ever got to send a second non-timed out broadcast, the A/R (Auto responder) system I was on temporarily shut down all accounts.
It was an early-days shared auto responder, and some people were using the system to spam the heck out of everybody with a computer.
All us honest folks were forced to email a FORM email to our lists, which required people to double opt-in to a different list if they wanted to keep getting emails from us.
Most of the people on my list only ever got two emails from me: The welcome email when they first signed up,
and the form email asking them to double opt-in to a completely "strange" list.
So, in the course of less than a week, my list went from "5,000" to 3, and my confidence and desire for this "whole internet thing" went to ZERO.
All of that is just to tell you, that it has been a long, hard struggle which continues to this day.
Some of us are working hard to get that first sale. Others are pulling their hair out over how to best scale up a moderately successful business.
Don't worry, and don't give up...
I'm not a guru, or an expert, but I do have quite a bit of experience with the struggles we are all facing, and here are some completely true things I have learned about making money online.
It's about people.
Business and making money anywhere, any time, online or offline, comes down to People.
It's about relationships, building and nurturing those relationships with actual real human beings, and then ...
offering them something they might find useful.
Don't even think about the Product or your offer.
Think about the "interest" or "idea" that brings you together.
(Why are these people talking to you? Why did they sign up to your list? Why did they join your Facebook group?)
Generally, this is called a "niche".
By interacting (back and forth) with the people in your group/email/etc., you can find out what it is they...
need to know,
or want to know,
or would be willing to pay for. (HINT: ASK THEM!)
Then, and ONLY then, do you find/create/source a product or create an offer, that you KNOW for a FACT that they ALREADY want or need.
Promoting some product as an affiliate because it's less work, or has a great pay-out, or because it's the popular flavor of the week, is the pathway to long-term ruin.
Only promote offers to your audience that you KNOW they already want.
Fine. You've probably heard something like all this before.
I know, I know.
It always feels like you're running out of time.
What we really need is something that will happen right now!
The relationship stuff sounds like it is the way to go, but building an audience,
building a relationship with each person in that audience,
and then offering a product after finding out what they need or want,
sounds like it is going to take a lot of time.
"I don't feel like I have a lot of time to get it done. I have bills that need to be paid NOW, and with
everything else I have going on, I'm barely hanging on by a thread as it is."
Even if that isn't your exact situation, that's sort of what it feels like every month, right?
Relax, you got this...
Let's forget about making a living. Let's even put thoughts of money to one side for the moment.
We need to put something together which will focus on relationships and needs, instead of putting the focus on marketing and money.
We need to do it quickly. We need to do it as cheaply as possible, while still looking professional.
Why don't we try this...
So, here's an idea. It's not the ONLY way, and maybe not even the BEST way, but it is a way. It will get the job done.
I'm going to include links. I'm not going to make them clickable, and none of them are affiliate links or properties owned or related to me. If you find a better resource, then by all means use it.
I'm going to walk you through old-school, but using up-to-the-minute techniques and tools.
Away we go...
First things first, you need a group, an audience, some people with a common interest.
It helps very much if it is an interest that you share with them, but that part is not absolutely necessary.
You want to build a relationship with them. It doesn't mean you need to be "the expert", just have an honest curiosity when it comes to them and their interests.
Build an email list
I'd recommend sendfox.com as the easiest and fastest way to get started building your email list. They have a pretty good free version that lets you accomplish quite a bit.
You can set up a list, pre-load it with a few emails, and have an opt-in page that looks about as professional as anything out there, and you don't even need to have your own website.
Then, with a few clicks in their system, you can even promote your opt-in page to a number of social media sites.
And yes, take an hour or so to register an account with the social media sites. I mean, that's where the people are, so you might as well go hang out with them.
The main sites to focus on: Facebook (obviously), Youtube, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest.
Those will be the main ones. There are a few others like Quora, which are also decent.
There's also linkedin, but I always got the impression linkedin is more "business" oriented and not as well suited for connecting with a "niche" audience.
I could be wrong about that. Nothing wrong with linkedin, I just never spent a lot of time with it.
Try them all out. See which sites work for you. Start by signing up with the social sites Sendfox will help you promote to. Or whichever sites the service you use is integrated with. Makes sense.
In addition to building your own groups*, use those social media sites to contact people who have already built audiences on those sites.
Find out what they might want or need, and offer to help them get it. (HINT: ASK THEM)
Talking with the right person, might build your own audience faster than you can say "Joint Venture".
Connecting with people who already have audiences, is the fastest way to being profitable, as long as you can provide value.
Show that you can nurture and build upon the relationships they have already built with their audience. That relationship is special.
If you treat it delicately, and prove that you will never do anything to damage that relationship, you might do quite well.
The least expensive, professional web presence...
Maybe, for some reason, you need your own website. Like you want to host your own opt-in page, or thank you page, or download page, or something.
You don't need to spend a lot of money to begin with. Starting "free" and "cheap" doesn't have to be a permanent situation.
If you need to upgrade your presence, you can always do so after you have made some money.
Register a free domain at freenom.com, and then get decent hosting at getprofithost.com.
At the time I write this it's still under $20 one-time for lifetime hosting. However, there are about 10 OTO's on the back-end which you should just skip for now.
(I have already migrated two of my domains to ProfitHost and so far, so good. If I do run into any issues I will post in this thread. Or if you do, please let me know.)
You really can get by without a website, but it does make some things a bit easier. And it's quite affordable even on the smallest budget.
So, for right now, that's the one-two-three punch: Sendfox, Freenom, and Profithost.
Setting up accounts with the major social websites.
Sending direct email (Gmail is probably the best free option), to those people who already have audiences built in the niches you are interested in.
At the very least, post in Facebook groups, on niche forums, interact with bloggers in the niche you want to be in, etc.
Just make yourself "known" in the community. Get to know the people. Let them get to know you.
Other than the few bucks for profithost, it's all free. You just need to put in the time and effort.
It will happen sooner than you realize, but it will NEVER happen if you don't do it.
Run like hell from selling anything that has to do with Internet marketing, or making money online. The niche has become WAY too incestuous.
(And if you ever consider purchasing an offer or product with a "Done-For-You" option, don't even think about buying it. Just run.)
Stick with any one of the thousands of evergreen niches which have nothing to do with IM, Online business, or helping people make money online.
I'm talking things like Gardening, Weight Loss, Travel, etc.
There is quite a bit of competition in some niches, but your success is going to be based on building and nurturing relationships with people in and around an area of common interest.
It is NOT going to be based on shilling "internet marketing" affiliate products to a bunch of desperate wantepreneurs, and trying to be their Hero by imparting your wisdom for becoming wealthy.
If that really is something in your heart and soul, then go ahead and give it try AFTER you have made your fortune OUTSIDE of the IM and make money online niche.
Build a relationship with multiple individuals at the same time...
Use Loom for Chrome and freeconferencecall.com to create presentations and webinars.
Talking to people, and interacting with them LIVE, is the best way to build a relationship with them.
When you have the money or desire to "improve" things a bit, webinarloop is a good value.
Just don't get sucked into the idea of "on demand" presentations, or pre-recorded webinars. Of course they work for specific purposes...
but for building a relationship of trust and value nothing beats being on a webinar LIVE talking to the people you want to build a relationship with.
You can create slides and make a presentation in OpenOffice if you want to go that route. It's also free.
I suggest that once you can afford to upgrade Loom and Freeconferencecall, you do so, if for no other reason, than to thank them for helping you out when you needed to use their services for free.
But, until then, here is a quick work around for putting a Video-Sales-Letter on your sale pages.
Use Loom to record your presentation. Then download the video file.
In your Youtube account, create a channel, and upload your VSL videos there.
Make them Private and "Only people with the url can watch this video".
Then use the Youtube embed codes to put the video on your sales page, if you have one.
Not perfect, but if you don't have any extra money to spend, it will do.
How about selling something...
At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, you will have an audience, and you will know what it is they need and want. (Because you have built a relationship with them, and you have asked them what they want, right?)
Go with Private Label Rights...
Google PLR NICHE, where "NICHE" is the product you are looking for, based on what your audience wants.
Once you find the product you need, even if you don't have the money at the moment, you can still sell it.
Pretend your audience is looking for the "best exercises for weight loss". (I'm doing this right now, so as I write this, I KNOW it's out there.)
I did a google search for (without the quotes) "plr best exercises for weight loss". I would do more research if I were really doing this, but right off the bat I saw:
$5 for 35 articles, one of which is "8 best exercises to lose weight quickly".
You can pop those articles into openoffice, edit to your heart's content, maybe even add a few public domain images, and you've got a book.
Save it as a PDF. (You can do that with Openoffice)
That's your product, or you can use it as part of a larger package.
Public Domain images: pexels.com and unsplash.com and I'm sure many other places if you search.
Other than the time it took you, and the $5 dollars for the 35 articles, you have a finished product.
Sure, you can put together a cover image, but you don't "need" a cover image in order to sell the pdf file.
Sign up and get your free Paypal account, and start selling your product.
Ask people to click on your order link and buy your product.
You can always email a list, or hold a webinar, write a sales page, whatever floats your boat. Pin a quick Facebook post in your group or on your Facebook page.
*Grow your Facebook group by posting regularly, consistently, and being involved in other groups and pages. Don't be a stranger. Comment on other posts. Post in groups you belong to. Talk to people.
You don't even need to mention your product, but it's fine to mention that you have a group for people interested in "niche".
Always follow the rules, and don't stress about it.
If you have "NO MONEY"...
Then you can "Pre-sell" it. If you do, be honest and forthcoming. (Though you should always be honest and forthcoming anyway.)
"Hey, it's still not quite ready. Still putting the finishing touches on it. When it's ready, it's going to be $45. But, if you want, you can buy it right now for $25. I'll even ask you to offer your input, so we can make this more valuable for you, and answer your needs more specifically. Then, once it's ready in two weeks, I will send you the download link early, so you can have it before it goes live to the rest of the world."
Then you could use money from the pre-sales, and use that to buy the PLR items you are going to make the product out of.
If you do go that route, you have to be absolutely certain that you finish your product by the time you say it will be ready.
And if anybody wants their money back before the product is ready, just give them a refund, and then give them the product anyway once it is finished, with a donation button just in case they decide it is worth it after all.
And if there are no pre-sales? Then you don't have to make the product, and you know that there isn't enough interest in that to make it worth doing.
That's when you move on to a different niche, or try a different product.
But that should almost never happen when you have a relationship with the people, and you know what they are looking for.
As you can see, there is a great advantage to building a relationship with someone who already has an audience they can refer to you. They have worked hard to build a certain level of trust and understanding with their audience.
You must always be respectful of that, and if that relationship is entrusted to you, do everything in your power to further nurture and care for that relationship.
You now should have a pathway to online success...
That's only one way. Just one of many.
In fact, you could ignore everything I have said so far, and just go out, grab some PLR or public domain materials, take a couple hours and compile a book, or even an entire package based around a single niche idea, and start hawking it to different groups/audiences in that niche.
With barely any out-of-pocket to speak of. But...
That is much more stressful than building your own relationship with your own audience, and offering the book or package to them.
Or even, developing a relationship with people who already have built audiences in their
particular niches, and becoming a part of their "family".
So, just relax for a moment. Everything is going to be OK.
This whole internet thing is easier than it looks. Don't over-complicate it.
Just remember there is more than one way to skin a cat. Or in this case, to make your living online.
Let me know what you think, or if you have any questions.
EDIT: After posting this, Loom changed their "Free" version to limit videos to 5 minutes or less. I believe that the methods I cover will still work with freeconferencecall.com. If you know of any other alternatives, please comment below, and I will update this thread with further edits.