Making money online through e-commerce or blogging is something that you have probably thought about if you are reading my article today. In general, there are two main strategies to make money online. You can either sell products online (e-commerce) or create an electronic product, such as software, mobile app or a blog. Making the right choice is key to your future success and meeting the goals for starting the online business. Here are six questions you should consider.
1) Why are you starting an online business and what goals are you trying to achieve?
First off, you need to take a step back and consider the reasons you want to start an online business. Are you looking to make a profit quickly to support you financially? Are you starting an e-commerce or blogging business as a hobby? Or are you working to create a passive income stream to create long-term wealth?
There is no such thing as a get rich quick strategy, e-commerce or blogging takes a significant amount of time and investment, with no guarantee of success. If you work hard, with the right strategies, it is possible to be extremely successful. See Pat Flynn’s disclose of his monthly 6 figure income.
Once you have an answer to the first question, let your answer help guide you through the remaining questions.
2) Can You Make a Dollar Your First Day?
Getting your first sale is an exciting moment that you will remember for a long time. Generally, it is typically much quicker to make your first sale and some profit with an e-commerce business. As soon as you have purchased a product, you can use eBay, Amazon or another online marketplace to sell the product to a large customer base. That first product can be listed within minutes and sold within the day.
Blogging or developing software can l take months or even years before you see your first sales dollar. If you are in a hurry to make a sustainable profit that you need to depend on, e-commerce may be the right fit for you.
3) How much money do you have and want to invest?
Making money online is never a guarantee, no matter what other sites or advertisements say. It is always a risk and you should be prepared to possibly lose everything you invest. With that said, a lot of people make a living from their online business.
Starting an e-commerce store can be done with a small $5 investment at a local garage sale and then turn around and sell on eBay. Or you can spend tens of thousands of dollars if you build a custom e-commerce site or invest in manufacturing your own product line.
A happy middle ground is using an e-commerce solution from Shopify. They have plans that range from $9 a month for their lite solution, up to $179 a month for their unlimted product (as of Aug 2015). They even offer a free 30 day trial, so that you have time to get you store up and running before you have to pay. Combine these prices, with a small investment in a great product, and you have an operating e-commerce store with a limited investment.
Blogging can be started for free or a very small investment. Free blogging options such as wordpress.com, allow you to be up and running within minutes. Enter you email, create a username, site address and password and you are set to go. A free option like this will give you limited options down the road, when it comes to customizing your blog and monetizing, but it is a great way to get your toes wet.
Self-hosted sites have gotten much easier with hosting companies offering 1-click wordpress install. This is a great option that will give you an extremely powerful platform to build your online business now and grow down the road. Hostgator, (this is the host that we use) has plans starting at just $5.56 a month (as of Aug 2015).
Software can be a very lucrative endeavor, but in my opinion is the biggest gamble. If you create a product, you can sell if over and over with little additional cost to develop the software, while collecting a nice maintenance or subscription revenue stream. On the other hand, you may spend a hundred thousand dollars developing an app that nobody really wants. YIKES! This is not a great idea if you are just starting out and do not have a great understating of the software business and know how to really validate an idea without investing too much.
4) How much time and flexibility do you have?
When you create an e-commerce business, you need to be prepared to serve your customers, when and where they want to be served. In today’s world with companies like Amazon shipping same day, consumers have gotten used to receiving their orders FAST. To get good reviews on social media, you are going to need to fulfill the order and provide Top Notch customer service to compete with the big players.
Blogging gives you more flexibility on when and where you decide to work. I can wait until UPS is closed, my children are asleep and then spend a few hours writing an article. With you decide to go with e-commerce or blogging, the more quality time that you invest, the better the results will be.
5) How to Generate Fans, Customers and Create an Audience?
You may have the world’s best product, software or blog, but if no-one knows about it, you won’t make a dime.
When starting an e-commerce or blogging business, you will need to generate fans or an audience and then convert them into customers. Selling on a large market place like Amazon, eBay or etsy.com, you will pay a small fee to access their customers and sell through their channels. This is definitely the fastest way to get your first sale.
With your own e-commerce website, or a blog, you will need to generate the web traffic yourself. This will take time and persistence if you have a small advertising budget. Some of the best free ways to generate buzz are through customer reviews, social media, and using good SEO practices. To speed up the process, you could invest in Google adwords, Facebook ads or other paid advertising.
Essentially, either channel you choose, it will take some time to generate buzz and site traffic, unless you start on one of the large, highly competitive market places.
6) Are You Prepared to Cross the Line?
Now that you have decided between e-commerce or blogging, you should know that it’s not that straight-forward. The current trend is for e-commerce sites to have a blog that they are regularly updating. This is considered content marketing and will drive customer engagement and improve your SEO.
Lets Wrap it Up
The world of online business is all about creating exceptional value for your customer or audience. Consider your short-term and long-term goals and where you see yourself down the road. Determine what you are passionate about and how much time and money you have to invest. Answering these questions will help decide which option is best suited for you and your needs. E-commerce or blogging can be extremely satisfying and help you break out of your 9-5 job.