Like many others I have tried to find the magic formula to make money online.
There is no such thing.
If you don’t have a really unique idea your most reliable option is to use the methods that are already working for other successful web entrepreneurs
All you have to do is learn from them and put your own unique twist on things as you go along.
Everyone’s needs differ and this comparative article will help you decide what is most suitable for you – depending on your objectives, personal and financial circumstances, and time you have on hand.
Over the years I have been successful at all 3 methods covered in this article, and the pros and cons of each is based on my personal experience.
Here is summary with a reference to suitability:
1.Start a Blogging site
Most people are attracted to blogging because it’s really easy to do and it requires very little upfront cost.
The main problem with blogging is that it will take you a long time to make any significant money.
And the harsh reality is that most people quit before the money starts rolling in because it takes tremendous patience and willpower to succeed.
In fact whenever someone asks me what I think of blogging. I call it slogging….
And when it comes down to it, you only have a few options when it comes to monetization, selling advertising, becoming an affiliate marketer or starting a paid membership site.
I didn’t start making any money at all on my 1st blog until well over 6 months had passed. And during those first 6 months, I was working my tail off writing articles 3-4 times a week to make at most a few hundred dollars per month!
You’ll get a lot of satisfaction from it.
There’s something very fulfilling about being able to write an article and have thousands of people read it and for some people, this is more valuable than money – especially if it is a subject that you are passionate about.
Another big advantage is the sustainability factor that comes with building up an audience
When you build up an loyal audience it become a powerful marketing tool – you can develop products like e books or courses and easily sell it to them.
People who follow you will be highly receptive to what you have to sell. For example if I were to ever launch another ecommerce related product, a single email to my list would generate instant sales.
It is a great way of networking and building up friendships !
The big advantage of blogging is that it is extremely portable and scalable. You can write articles from anywhere in the world and you will probably never need to hire additional staff as your audience grows
Overall, blogging opens intangible doors that benefit you in the long run but aren’t readily quantifiable in terms of short term dollars.
Boost your blog: You can use various apps to help you gain an audience. My personal favorite is Tailwind. You can automate posting to both Pintrest and Instagram and generate traffic to your blog on autopilot while you sleep.
Another popular online business model is niche affiliate marketing. By creating a website for the sole purpose of ranking for a specific keyword term, you can refer customers to a related business and get a small cut of the sale.
Niche affiliate marketing is attractive because it costs very little to start and requires very little upkeep and maintenance once traffic has been established.
A niche affiliate site carries a lot of the same disadvantages as blogging when it comes to revenue velocity.
In other words, you have to work your tail off for a very long time before you can amass enough traffic to make any money at all.
And in most cases, niche affiliate sites rely solely on the search engines for their referral traffic.
Google is continuously updating their search algorithms and many niche affiliate sites have been torn apart over the years because they no longer rank in search.
Unlike an online store or an authority blog with an established audience and customer base, niche affiliate sites by comparison can be preceptable to fluctuations.
You do not establish your own customer base.
Once a referral is made, that’s it. If that customer wants to make a purchase again, do you think that they’ll go through your niche site again
Lots of competition with easy entry
Niche affiliate sites also have a really low barrier to entry. In fact, most marketers keep their niche affiliate sites a secret so that no one else can copy them.
Running a successful niche site is all about picking the right keywords so that you can rank in the search engines.
Because it is so quick, easy and inexpensive to put up a website thanks to WordPress, there’s really nothing stopping anyone from taking your keywords and copying your website idea.
You are at mercy of the companies you promote
Another possible problem with affiliate marketing is that you are always at the whim of the companies you promote. For example Amazon recently slashed their affiliate payouts which negatively affected thousands of bloggers overnight.
The best strategy here is to diversify as much as you can !
Low maintenance – passive income
In most cases, niche affiliate sites can be a set it and forget it endeavor. If you have a properly written article with good backlinks and quality content ity can make you money for years without you lifting a finger.
Setting up a few sites is easy and once established they require little maintenance – so many affiliate marketers put up a bunch of sites to “diversify”their portfolio.
By constantly putting up new niche affiliate sites to replace those that have fallen, affiliate marketers can mitigate their risk by not putting all of their eggs in one basket.
And the best part is that niche affiliate sites can be run from anywhere. There’s no inventory or customer service involved whatsoever!
There are lots of ‘ free advice’ on the web about this. Nobody gives you valuable information for free. If you want to learn you need support and quality training by someone knowledgeable.
I did a really good course. Generally speaking: Information that is freely available on the web is being used by ‘too many people already – which usually makes it worthless anyway.
The paid course I did over a few weeks that was truly amazing as I had support and valuable information that gave me new insights that helped me to be successful.
‘Making sense of affiliate marketing‘ is worthwhile investment in yourself if you want to carve a successful online career. The author is making $50K a month and students are getting real results.!
Selecting a niche for your affiliate website is a subject that deserves an entire post on its own – so I will I only share the Niche that I personally use.
Did you know that 40% of all online sales happen on Amazon.
That’s is a very big pie.
You just want a very small piece of it and you are well on your way.
People already trust Amazon.
This creates and enormous opportunity for a savvy entrepreneur.
All you need to do is to sign up to become an Amazon Affiliate. You don’t need to maintain a website. You don’t have to provide customer service. ( Amazon is legendary for their client service!) All you have to do is promote Amazon products ( that are already selling)
To do this effective you need proper training. Before I ‘tried out the Amazon thing’ I did a course from an expert who made it big as an Amazon Affiliate called Cracking the code. It is not expensive and it is really good.
If you want to go the Affiliate route you should get this course – it contains all you need to make a success of it.
Starting an online store that sells either physical or virtual goods is by far the fastest way to make money online.
Now this is a very big subject and there an overload of information on the web about how to go about it.
It can all be a little overwhelming.
When I wanted to get into e commerce I did research for months on end – I staggered form one articles to the next, from one Youtube channel to the next…
To get started with something new most of us need want a easy, risk free solution that requires minimal capital and labour input.
I found all of the above in a business model consisting of the following: 1. A risk free e commerce method called ‘Dropshipping’ 2. Shopify and, 3. Orbelo app.
Together these three make it possible for someone with minimal capital and a little spare time and no experience to set up an professional looking e commerce store within a few hours.
Dropshipping basically means that you do not hold physical inventory. Instead you have Suppliers with warehouses that hold the stock. These suppliers give you a low price on their items and pictures and details ( decriptions,etc ) of their stock to put on your website. You then sell these items on your website to your audience.
Once the item sells you pay the Supplier, and you send them the address where they must send the item too ( that of your purchaser). The supplier then send the item ( This is usually done ‘blind’, so the buyer thinks it if from you) and you’ve made a profit without ever touching the item or having to buy it in advance.
So it is a perfect low risk system.
And thanks to the Shopify /Orbelo integration everything is pre arranged with the Suppliers to lessen the amount of work you have to put in.
Building a e commerce store use to be very expensive and you needed a to hire an expert web designed.
Luckily, with Shopify all of that changed.
Shopify is a 1 click install platform where you need no experience to set up a professional e commerce website.
It is exceptionally user friendly and comes with 24/7 live chat support.
It also comes with integrated payment solutions getting started with them is really, really super easy.
You get a 2 weeks free trial to try out their platform. There is a monthly fee, but your store include expenses you would have had to pay if you picked another platform ( like Woo commerce) .For your monthly fee you get a free SSL, all plugins are free and live chat support – something you do not get with other platforms.
You also need Shopify to be able to use Oberlo app to automate your e commerce store.
It allows you to: 1. Easily import selected* dropshipped products directly into your shopify store. and 2. Ship them directly to your customers – in only a few clicks.
I’m going to take through the process of setting up a store using these 2 amazing platforms in combination – just so you know what you are in for, and so you can see that it is not complicated or intimidating. It is the ideal way of ‘getting into e commerce’ while you keep your day job.
When I started there was no Shopify and Oberlo. To be honest, it took me 12 months to launch my first ecommerce store! I followed conventional strategies to begin with. I incorporated myself, looked for wholesalers, underestimated my marketing budget, developed a great looking store, manually added thousands of products… and never made a sale.
People think that if you’re launching an ecommerce business, you should do it the hard way. When you’re a first-time entrepreneur, figuring out how to start your an online store seems pretty complicated.
What I have found is that it’s much more productive to learn and create along the way. Your first step is to simply launch your ecommerce store. You can explore ad campaigns and logo designs at a later time, like once your store is up and running.
So here are the logical set up steps you should follow:
Picking a name is important, but don’t spend too much time on it. Think of something random and simple.
I recommending adding ‘store’ or ‘shop’ because you will need to find an available internet address (domain), and it’s easier to find an available one when there are several words in the name.
Come up with a list of 10-15 brand name ideas. Make sure the name you come up with isn’t trademarked and has an available .com domain address. Dot com domains tend to rank better in the search engines. You can do this by simply searching for the names that you come up with on Google, and searching for potential domain names.
A useful tool for coming up with an ecommerce store name is the Shopify Business Name Generator on the Shopify website. You can add a keyword or two that you’d like to have in your name and it will provide you recommendations. If you click a domain name you’ll have access to purchasing it directly on the website as well.
In the old days, you had to get a server, upload an ecommerce system to it, hire someone to customize it according to your needs, and pay to maintain it. It was expensive, time consuming, and the final result was still a slow and ineffective website.
Thankfully, Shopify and other alternative software have simplified the process. You can create your ecommerce store in just a few clicks and all of the server setup and maintenance is taken care of for you.
Go to Shopify.com, click ‘start your free trial’, enter your store name, and create your shop.
Payment : Add your PayPal email address under Shopify Settings > Payments Section. Later, you can change, remove, or add additional payment options. If you don’t have a PayPal account, register at PayPal.com. It will take about 5 minutes.
Terms and conditions: Shopify even offers a handy tool for generating terms and conditions, standard privacy, and return policies. You can access them from Shopify Settings > Checkout > scroll down to Refund > Privacy > TOS statements section to generate each policy sample.
Shipping : I highly recommend that you offer your products to customers with a free delivery option. You can set this as default from your Shopify account settings. ( Tip: Included the shipping charge in your price..:)
Add on line store options: Shopify allows you to sell your products across multiple channels like Online Store, Facebook Store, Brick & Mortar store, etc.
See that you have at least ‘Online Store’ checked for now. . Go to Shopify Settings > Sales Channels and add Online Store as your sales channel if it hasn’t already been added automatically.
Optional with set up : Buying a domain is optional, but it’s recommend if you want to create a professional looking store. Currently, your URL will look similar to this: [storename].myshopify.com. You might want to purchase a custom domain and change it to look more like a standard website: [storename].com.Note: There will be a cost for changing your store name to a custom domain (around $13 per year).
You don’t have to purchase a custom domain right away, you can set this up later once you decide if you want to invest further money into your ecommerce business.
It is important to note, however, that a custom internet address provides social accountability when you start advertising your site, which can increase your sales
To buy a domain, go to Shopify Online Store > Domains Section > Buy New Domain.
P.S. You’ll need to confirm the domain before it starts working. The confirmation email is in your email inbox.
Now you are ready to integrate Shopify with the Orbelo app.
Oberlo allows you to import dropshipped products from AliExpress to your ecommerce store within minutes. Any orders that your store receives will be shipped directly to your customers in just a few clicks.
AliExpress offers a wide variety of products at very low prices, which is why it is an ideal partner in the beginning when you launch your store.
I want to suggest that you take advantage of Oberlo Supply, a marketplace of dedicated suppliers who have been vetted by Oberlo to provide entrepreneurs with high-quality dropshipped products at an affordable price point. I personally use this too as it lessens risk !
Here’s how you can use Oberlo and Shopify to start an online store:
Product categories are called collections on the Shopify website. If you’re selling women’s jewelry, your collections will be (from top to the bottom): Earrings, Rings, Necklaces, Watches, Bracelets, etc.
Just go to Products > Collections > Add New Collection, enter your collection name, and select your collection conditions.
Adding products with Oberlo is simple. When it comes to selecting products for your store, choose products based on high order volume, high star rating, and shipping costs. For order volume, anything over 30 orders with a high star rating is fine.
You just want to ensure that other people have been happy with their purchases. When it comes to star rating, only select suppliers which have a star rating of 4 or above. You want to ensure that people are happy with the quality and manufacturer.
You should also take a look at an article by Oberlo How to Select Dropshipping Suppliers, before you delve into product selection.
Your online stores content is extremely important. This is an area where you should devote your focus on and spend more time on in the future. For now, the following sections should be enough to start with: About Us, Terms and Conditions, Privacy and Returns Policy, Shipping & Delivery Information, Track Your Order link, Contact Us.
To create a page, go to Shopify Online Store > Pages > Add Page.
This page on your online store eventually needs to look unique, but this will take quite a bit of time to create. In the meantime, copy and paste one of the pre-generated ‘About Us’ pages from the list below and edit it to suit your store later.
When you write an About Us page in the future, make it personal. Tell a story about why you started the brand. Show pictures of yourself to show that there’s a human behind your eCommerce business
Most of the sellers on Oberlo have very similar delivery prices and timeframes, so it is best to copy and paste this standardized shipping & delivery page below.
These pages were generated during the first steps covered in this article in the Shopify store setup – so you can simply copy them from your settings page and paste into separate pages on your Online Store channel.
Keeping in close contact with your customers is very important. Make sure you place a clearly visible ‘Contact Us’ link on your ecommerce store homepage. To create a contact page, click the ‘Add New Page’ button and change the page template to contact.
Mastering design is an important part in the process of creating an ecommerce store.
How you present your ecommerce business helps build trust with customers.
Thankfully, Shopify automatically assigns a default theme to your ecommerce store and it already looks great, so you do not need to change this unless you want to spend the time to customize it.
A customized site can help enhance your brand, but it is not necessary to do that when first launching the store.
Don’t buy a new theme until you’ve generated enough sales for it to be paid for through your ecommerce business. There’s no need to make big purchases in the beginning. You can still create a beautiful website through your banner graphic, color scheme, and other visual elements.
Go to the Shopify Online Store > Navigation section > select edit ‘Main Menu’ card and list all your collections there.
You can create a cool looking banner in just a few minutes. Use Google ‘banner editing tools’ or go to Canva .com Select banner dimensions (1200x360px), upload an image of one of your products, select background, insert a few lines of text, add a ‘Buy Now’ button, and you’re finished.
You can also use Canva’s templates to design something visually appealing. They have shapes you can incorporate into your design to make things pop. Don’t be afraid to look through Canva’s templates for inspiration to design a banner that wows. Their website is user-friendly and allows even someone with little design experience to create a unique banner.
You can now insert this banner into your ecommerce store by going to Online Store > Themes > Customize Theme > edit Homepage Slideshow.
If you navigate to Customize Theme > Home page > Featured Products you can choose a collection for featured products. If you create a collection like you did earlier, name one featured, use tags called ‘Featured.’ Every time you add a new product that you want to showcase add the ‘Featured’ tag to the tags section and it will automatically appear on the Home Page under ‘Featured.’
You can find Footer Settings in Online Store, Themes Section, Customize Theme page, and Footer Settings. There you can decide what you want to see in your footer menu. I usually hide ‘Latest News column’, because we haven’t created any blog posts yet.
Now go to Online Store, Navigation section, select Footer Menu, and list all the page you created before:
Congratulations, you have just launched your first eCommerce store!
You are now running your own online store and can officially call yourself an ecommerce entrepreneur.
You should also remember that you’ve only figured out how to start an ecommerce store, now you need to figure out how to take it to the next level. Owning an ecommerce business is about trying to improve your sales, customer service, customer experience, and most importantly, yourself.
To run a successful ecommerce store, you’ll need to focus your energy on marketing your store via ads, content creation, and building an audience on social media. When combined, those three things can have a powerful impact on your brand in the long-term.
Now you need to put your brand out there for everyone to see as people won’t just magically find you.
Just as Shopify and apps like Oberlo make running your ecommerce business easier than ever before, there are plenty of accessible marketing tools and tutorials available online. I recommend using Facebook Ads to boost your sales.Generally speaking you’ll make around 5 times the money you spend on the ads.
No matter where your ecommerce adventure takes you, rest assured that you’ll learn so much more about yourself and witness your levels of creativity, determination, and perseverance to reach new heights.