Back in the early days of internet marketing, there wasn't much you could do to get started with marketing your business online until you actually launched your own website.

Before you could make money, you had to:

  • Choose a domain
  • Set up your hosting
  • Design your website
  • Put it all online
  • Optimize and test your website

But maybe you want the chance to "get your feet wet" before you commit to building a website and getting really serious about marketing your business online.

Or maybe you're trying to discover your online business niche: the problem you want to solve, the people you want to sell to, and the best possible way to create a viable business. Maybe you don't want to commit to a website until you've had a better chance to experiment with different ideas.

Well, fortunately for web newbies, there are more options for getting started with e-commerce than ever before. Now you can actually market and sell products without ever creating your own website. Here's just a few.

Start Selling on eBay
eBay.com is the hottest e-commerce site on the web today, and for good reason:

  • More than 2 million people visit eBay.com every single day, spending an average of two hours navigating through eBay's pages and listings.
  • More than $1,000 in sales happen on eBay every single second.
  • 72% of eBay users have incomes in excess of $50,000 per year--so they come ready to spend!

And--most important to you--95% of eBay users are individuals or small businesses. eBay is clearly a place where newbies can go to find instant profit and success--and you can get started selling in less than an hour. And while those listings will cost you only pennies to place on eBay's pages, you gain immediate access to millions of buyers who are looking for items just like yours.

To get started selling on eBay today, go to: http://cgi5.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?SellHub2.

But what items are you going to sell?

This is the real beauty of eBay: There's a market for practically everything on the giant online auction site. If you're not sure what you want to sell, try checking out what products are popular at http://pulse.ebay.com, or by reading these strategies for finding items that'll sell like hotcakes.

Start a Blog
You can create your own website in less than five minutes (and for free!) by starting a blog. (Read "Harness the Marketing Power of Blogs.")

Business blogs have become one of the hottest tools for marketing on the web today. And while some companies use them to promote their products in addition to their main websites, you don't need to have a website--or even have a business yet--to start a blog.

Anyone can create a blog for free and have an active, functioning presence online in just minutes. Even complete internet newbies find the set-up process simple and easy to understand. You don't have to know anything about web design or pay a single cent for a domain name or web hosting.

And once you've got your blog online, you can start making money instantly. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start a Google AdSense campaign to generate advertising revenue from your blog. It's easy to set up an AdSense account, and have targeted ads displayed to your online readers. This can be a great source of revenue, though of course the amount of income you can expect from your AdSense ads will depend on the amount of traffic to your blog. The more traffic you receive, the more people are likely to click through the ads displayed on your site--and the more revenue for you!
  • Join an affiliate program, or a few affiliate programs, and start promoting their products on your blog. You don't even need your own product to get started. You can place ads for your affiliate products on your blog, or write articles or product reviews that contain your affiliate link. You receive a percentage of each sale made when readers click through your links and make a purchase.
  • Sell products directly from your blog. If you do have a product that you're ready to sell, you can write articles on your blog telling readers about the benefits of your widget. Once they get excited about what you have to offer and decide to take action, you can direct them with a sidebar button to your PayPal account (which is free and easy to set up).

With PayPal, they can order your product and pay for it in seconds, and it only takes you a few moments to get set up to take payments.

You can create a blog in five minutes, absolutely free, with a free blog hosting service. These are considered the top options for blogging beginners:

Use Google Page Creator to Get Free Exposure
Google Page Creator is a brand-new program that enables anyone with a Google ID to set up their very own website. The most obvious benefit of the program is that your pages are rapidly indexed by the Google search engine spiders.

Some new website owners spend a ton of time and effort trying to show up in search engine results for their keywords, but with a Google Page, you jumpstart that process. Within minutes, you have a fully functioning website that you can use to make money online right away.

You can generate profits with Google Page Creator in much the same way as with a blog:

  • You can promote your own product on your Google Page with a salesletter or ad, and then direct your visitors to your PayPal checkout system to purchase your product right away.
  • You can also promote other people's products on your Google Page through content, links or ads, and make quick cash from affiliate commissions.
  • And naturally, Google Pages are the perfect place to set up a Google AdSense campaign.

When your account is approved, Google offers a simple page setup process with an easy-to-use WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor. You can add your own text by typing it straight into the editor, or by cutting and pasting from any kind of text file. You can also upload pictures, create links, and even edit the raw HTML code if you wish.

In order to get started with Google Page Creator, you'll need a Google ID, which you can sign up for at: https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount.

Once you've got an account, you can head to the Page Creator homepage (http://pages.google.com) to add your name to the waiting list (demand is so huge that they're currently not accepting real-time submissions).

Final Thoughts
Of course, if you're getting serious about starting a business online, we always recommend that you create a website of your own. It's never been easier to build an e-commerce presence online than it is now, with the rise in popularity of blogging, auction websites like eBay.com, and quick web hosting solutions like Google Page Creator.

Each of these options offers you the opportunity to determine the viability of your business model, test your strategies and salescopy, establish a ranking in the search engines, and gain credibility and a reputation in your industry. Best of all, you can get started making money online today.

Derek Gehl is Entrepreneur.com's "E-Business" columnist and the CEO of the internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses.