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Ka-Ching: Making Money Online

This story originally appeared on Salesforce

That old sound of the cash register ringing in sale after sale was every brick-and-mortar business owner’s dream. Sales coming in the front door meant there was money in the cash drawer. You don’t necessarily get that same thrilling sound when you have an Internet business. The thrill is there but that little ka-ching is missing

Often, people ask me how I made money on the Internet. I’ve been doing this about 35 years and the same thing is true now as it was back in 1995 -- I follow my passion. When you follow what you truly care about, the money will come. 

To start hearing that ka-ching sound on the net, you have to build a blog.  These have become more popular and tend to make a bit more money than static websites that don’t typically change.

Related: How to Drive Customers Away From Your Online Shop

When Google came into the online advertising world, the largest ka-ching sound rang out over the whole Internet. It still has a deafening sound with the invention of AdWords, which is the system Google uses to sell advertising space. By adding just a couple lines of code, your website can instantly serve up Google ads that are relevant to your audience. It just might be the easiest ka-ching in the history of e-commerce.

Here are a few pointers on how you can cash in and make money online. 

Your uniqueness equals cash. Everyone is good at something or knows a bit about a certain topic. This can be anything from underwater basket weaving to the best comedy shows currently on HBO. Choosing your niche shouldn’t be rocket science: It should be what interests you, what you are passionate about or love to talk about. Once you have found what you love to do or can talk about at length, you have chosen your niche. Even if your niche is a small segment, those interested in it will be loyal to you and come back to read the new content that you produce. Most often they will click on your affiliate links and subscribe to your newsletter ,because they have a genuine interest in what you are talking about.

One thing to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert in something to make an income from it online. There are many examples of people who take their regular careers and create websites based on that experience. If you are a plumber and give away advice on home plumbing issues, people will come to your website for that advice. They may click on your affiliate links and ads, which then will make you money. Blogging about what you know and have knowledge about is a good beginning.

Related: Can't Find a Summer Job? Here's How to Launch an Online Business

If niche sites create a nice ka-ching sound, the micro-niche site makes a huge, banging ka-ching sound. When you can drill down to specific topics within a niche, you can be hyper focused. For example, if you have a gardening blog and notice whenever you write about bonsai trees the site numbers spike, you should consider creating a separate blog about bonsai trees. This site is considered a micro-niche site, and the people reading it have a real interest in bonsai trees and are more likely to click on links within that content. Big ka-ching!

Content is king for a reason. Every person who surfs the web is looking for content. Whether that content is informative or entertaining -- or better yet, both -- you can build an audience and create value. People consume content in a number of ways. The largest way is through writings, but video has taken over a large section of content creation especially as YouTube continues to grow in popularity. Images and photos have skyrocketed as key content on sites like Instagram and Pinterest.

There are six types of content that are king:

  1. How-to articles that are informative about your niche
  2. News articles, which can be as simple as aggregating information from other websites
  3. Opinion articles, which offer commentary on news events or other topics
  4. Review articles, which are easy and simple to monetize
  5. List posts, which are easily shared but can be time-consuming to write
  6. Interview posts, which may seem complex but can simply consist of sharing a conversation you had with someone that you find interesting.

Related: Achieving Your Business Dreams on the Web

Get on a advertising platfrom. Once you have decided on the primary content for your site, the next thing is to implement Google’s AdSense so you can start hearing that lovely ka-ching sound.

  • AdSense for content is the most popular. It displays ads that pay on a cost-per-click (CPC) or a cost-per-action (CPA) basis and are targeted to the keywords on the page. The ads are usually text-based but they can also be images or video.

  • AdSense for search provides a search box that you can place on your site. You can specify which sites the user can search, and AdSense display small text ads next to the results, giving you a share of the advertiser’s fee for every click.

  • AdSense for mobile content places AdSense on content built specifically for mobile gadgets like cell phones and tablets.

  • AdSense for feeds places ads in RSS feeds, a useful way of making some money from people who read your content in their RSS readers

  • AdSense for domains is used on domains that don’t yet have content on them yet.

Create a product. Another way to monetize your site is to create a product. Whether it is a book, an e-book, a set of DVDs or a subscription-based service, creating content that sells is vital. No matter what you are selling, you need a great sales page that pitches it. Next you need a team of affiliate marketers to push your product through their channels. They are providing good content to their community and receiving a commission from you for promoting it. Make sure to have a shopping cart on your site to generate sales once you decide on a product. Once you have the product to sell, the shopping cart installed and your affiliates ready, then by all means let the world know. With the help of social media you can have prospective buyers hitting your site quite quickly. Ka-ching!

 Consider membership sites. You can turn your Internet buisness into a passive revenue machine. Membership sites are a great way to have a product or service billed on a regular schedule, which is money in the bank. Create a site that offers a sense of exclusivity or provide high-value content and deliver this in a steady stream. If you do it right, it shouldn’t be hard to persuade your users to pay you every month for that content. Look at as an example of having to pay to access their database or The Wall Street Journal as a place to find high-quality articles that are behind a firewall. Pricing your membership site is key and the price should be high enough that people want it and find value in it but low enough that they can afford it. 

Related: How Do I Launch a Membership-Based Website?

Creating a membership site is no longer a daunting task. With WordPress, you can download a plugin and have a membership site up and running fairly quickly. You can also use a platform like SubHub that gives you the website, protects your content and even has membership forums built in.

Something to keep in mind when deciding whether to do membership sites is that when subscribers are paying a regular fee, they expect to receive full value for those fees every month. Otherwise, you’ll find that the number of your subscribers will fall off pretty quickly. Membership sites are a bit more work than a site that just has content with affiliate links in the post. These can be very profitable though and membership sites shouldn’t be overlooked as a way to monetize your website.

Coaching programs. Coaching is a way of giving back and sharing the information you have learned with others. It is a way for your customers to work directly with you and have you teach them what it is that you know. Now, coaching isn’t for everyone. If you’re happy building your company by yourself, creating content, marketing products and forging ahead on your own, there is nothing wrong with that. Coaching might not be for you. 

Coaching involves being there to help someone else succeed -- teaching them and helping them stay on track. It can also be a good source of income for you. People will pay to be taught by those that are doing well in their field. Being a great coach is watching and cheering on your clients as they work to progress their own goals.

You can deliver coaching sessions online, over the phone and even through video calls. When you coach someone, you will be reading their blogs and their content and then giving advice on how to be better. Be prepared for them to not always accept that constructive criticism: Telling someone that they are doing it wrong isn’t always an easy task.

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Coaching someone else first starts with identifying their brand and how they are marketing that brand to the public. For someone to trust you with their business, you have to have a solid brand and identity. People will not give you their hard earned money if you are not walking the walk.

Speaking of your own brand, make sure you have professional marketing materials created to broadcast your coaching business. Building your personal brand should be easy as it is sharing who you are in an authentic, interesting way. Your personal brand will make you known to your target market, which helps to build trust. Communicating that brand is a process and takes time. A great benefit is that it creates a very powerful connection with your audience, encouraging them to return to you -- and to hire you as their coach.

Be sure to market your coaching business using press releases. The more targeted and focused the press release, the better chance it has of ending up on the computer screen of a prospective client.

When you are first starting out offer introductory packages to new coaching clients. The easiest is to have a set number of telephone calls per month for a set amount of time. This would create an instant ka-ching in your pocketbook, and you only need a few of these to make an impact on your monthly bottom line.

These types of low-end coaching programs allow you to provide personalized solutions to others, who then can implement those solutions on their own. Some will, but most won’t, and you can’t take their lack of follow-through personally.

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High-end coaching is about results. You will have fewer of these types of clients. They will be the ones that are genuinely serious about achieving success. High-end coaching clients have rolled up their sleeves and put in the hard work and need your advice and guidance to get them across the finish line. This type of coaching often times results in them being millionaires and being able to credit some of their success back to your coaching.

Conclusion. The secret to making money online is understanding a few basic principles—and then sitting back and hearing the virtual ka-ching. The old cash registers might be a sign of the past but that proverbial ka-ching sound will live on. 

Building a website these days is quite easy, and you can be up and running -- and creating content -- in a few hours to a couple days. No longer does it take a ton of time or a computer programmer's knowledge level to build one. Create a website based on something that you love to talk about or are very passionate about. When you follow your passions, hearing that ka-ching sound is even sweeter.

Through the years, Internet marketing has grown and developed ready-made systems that anyone can use and profit from. It’s not a cash register, but rather a cash machine. It might not make the kind of ka-ching sound you could once hear in stores across the country, but it is a business, and you can operate it today.

Related: Top 5 Reasons e-Businesses Fail

Joel Comm

Written By

Joel Comm is NY Times bestselling author, professional keynote speaker, brand influencer and futurist. An expert on harnessing the power of the web, publishing, social media and mobile applications to expand reach and engage in active relationship marketing, Joel is a sought-after public speaker who leaves his audience inspired, entertained, and armed with strategic tools to create highly effective new media campaigns.