I owe my career to the Internet. And I really, truly, honestly believe that. John owes his career to the Internet too. Everything came together at the right time about a decade ago when all of the necessary technologies coalesced such that what I do today was even possible.
If it were not for the Internet, I’d probably be working your standard 9-to-5 office job with TPS reports to file by the end of the day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just not for me and I’m all the more grateful for it. In truth, it’s actually even easier to make money online today than when I first started.
Most of these are hardly new, but they’ve all reached a level of stability and maturity that have really facilitated the growth of online entrepreneurship, regardless of how you choose to make your money online. Think about what the world looked like before these came into existence and how you would have had to manage without them.
Way back in the fall of 1999, I decided to launch my first website. It was with Geocities and it looks horrendously dated by today’s standards. I had scrolling text, flashing GIFs and rollover animation for clickable image links. At the time, I had no ambition to make any money from it (and it showed).
At the time, I haphazardly bumbled by way through HTML and Dreamweaver and concoct that monstrosity. While I have no real regrets — it was a terrific learning experience — it’s not at all necessary today. You can have a world class website without ever looking at a line of code, thanks to far better content management systems like WordPress. It’s so much easier to make a website from scratch these days. And if you want to make things even easier, there are even more powerful tools like Squarespace and Wix.
Even though I am based in the Vancouver area, the overwhelming majority of clients do not live or work anywhere near Vancouver. I’ve had clients from the UK, Australia and even Japan. A good number reside in the United States too, of course.
If it were not for PayPal, accepting international payment from international clients would be substantially more challenging. I could wait several weeks for a check in the mail. I could go through the complicated process of setting up international wire transfers. Or I can just send a PayPal.me link and have the money in my account in a matter of seconds.
My first foray into anything that would remotely resemble the commercial side of the Internet consisted of a plain text email newsletter (that would serve as the precursor to my blog today). At the time, I maintained the subscriber list manually.
With each newsletter that I sent out, I added those addresses to the BCC field. There was no automated way for people to subscribe or unsubscribe other than to message me directly. With modern email marketing solutions like Aweber, the process is far easier and substantially more powerful. You can set up sales funnels, automated introductory messages, segmented lists and so much more.
Reaching your readers (and customers) via email has never been easier.
4. Affiliate Marketing
Want to sell something online? It used to be that you’d have to have your own product and go through the amazingly frustrating experience of configuring your own e-commerce store. No longer. You don’t need your own products, your own store, your own fulfillment center or any of that.
What’s great about affiliate marketing is that it takes almost nothing for you to set up aside from dishing out those affiliate links to the right audience. You can promote just about anything these days through an affiliate program and generate some fairly sizable commissions if you do it right.
While you may have once had to set up individual relationships with different vendors to promote different products, the rise of large affiliate networks has made that largely unnecessary. And with even bigger marketplaces and programs like Amazon Associates, it has never been any easier.
The actual quality and uniqueness of the delivered product will vary substantially, but if you need almost anything done, even on a very short deadline, “gig” based economies like Fiverr make it remarkably easy. Want a new logo? A website design? Voiceover for your YouTube video? Animation? Ebook cover?
It’s all there and it can all be very cheap too. Naturally, I’m going to be a little biased as a professional freelance writer, so I will tell you that you will likely end up with something a lot better if you work with a professional directly and open up your wallet a little wider, but the convenience of Fiverr simply cannot be ignored.
If you’ve been making excuse after excuse, waiting for all your ducks to get in a row before you try to make a living online, it’s about time you get your butt into action. The Internet now offers an embarrassment of riches with all of these incredibly powerful and overwhelmingly affordable solutions for just about anything.
Think about how much harder it would have been without these tools in place. Now you’ve got them. So use them to reap all the benefits you can.