“What I tell you now, my father told me, and his father before him, and his father before him. This is the way it is, was, and always will be. This is the message you need to tell your children.”

The young man pondered this for a while, and looked at the elder in puzzlement.

“How can it always be the same when there is always something new?”

“Ah”, said the old man. “People have a thirst that only knowledge can quench. If you quench it for them, they will regard you as a god.”

You might have spent your life so far working 9 to 5 and not making too much from it. You might have spent your life so far in school. Chances are, you have heard about “internet marketing”, and things like “passive income”, and may be wondering how to get started.

It is a dream of many to give up their day job and make their living on the internet – not by selling physical products through eBay or Etsy or Amazon, but by selling information. Many people will claim they have the secret and want to share it with you, but most of them are just get-rich-quick scams that will not produce a sustained income. And that’s what you need – a sustainable income, and the more passive it is, the better.

In his book “The 4 Hour Body”, author Tim Ferriss talks about the minimum effective dose (MED) for achieving results, and this is exactly what you need to be successful in internet marketing. If you spend all your time and energy working away and end up with little to show for it, you may as well not have bothered. If you spend a short time every day working on your projects, measure your results and adapt as necessary, you will achieve the MED – the smallest, most concentrated amount of work you can do to achieve the absolute maximum effect.

You might have a few websites set up already, and each of these sites makes you a few pennies a month. You need to measure, adapt and improve, and turn those pennies into thousands. It can be done, it might not be as hard as you think, and could well mean you can give up your day job – if you have one!

It is important that you start the internet marketing/passive income journey with the right attitude – you are not going to become a millionaire overnight, or at least it is highly unlikely. But you will start on the right path, and over time your revenue and experience will build. The ultimate aim is of course to build your business – for that is what it is, a business – in such a way that it virtually runs itself and provides you with that yearned for passive income.

“The journey is long, child, and many have fallen on the way. But the Promised Land is this way…”

Why it’s not as easy as some internet marketing “gurus” make out

If it was easy, everyone would do it. But not everyone DOES do it, because building a business like this requires a certain mindset, and a dedication to carry on even when you aren’t bringing in the profit to start with. Your family most likely won’t understand what you are doing, or how you intend to bring about the results you want to achieve. But persevere, as perseverance is the only way.

Passive v Active income

Passive income is defined as earnings made without any active work – for example, money from a rental property.

Active income is money you are paid for performing certain task, activities or services – for example, wages for your day job etc.

Internet marketing income, on the other hand, is a combination of both. Those who try to sell you the idea of the internet being a wide-open easy money storefront are misleading you! Whatever method(s) you choose to follow to start on the road to fortune, there is plenty of groundwork to do, and plenty of maintenance later on. In the end, it may only take a few minutes a day or an hour or so a week, but it will take a while to get there.

You will spend some ‘active’ time building your empire, but the eventual reward is the passive income – the quantity however may well depend on how much work you put in at the start.

And that’s not all – the internet marketing game is constantly changing too. Remember, in 20 years or so we have gone from stand alone computers to BBS systems to email to instant messaging to social networking to the mobile web…and most of the really big changes have happened in the last few years. Go back to early 2006, and you will find that Facebook is very small, and Twitter doesn’t even exist.

But first things first. You will need to start at the bottom and work up – which means you first of all need to decide what you are going to do to get things started.

Niche Sites vs Authority sites

When setting up a website of your own, you need to figure out what your site theme is going to be – and I don’t mean the way it looks!

There are two schools of thought on this. One way is to make your site all encompassing, something everyone would come to and potentially buy from – see Amazon for an idea of how this works. The other way is to make your site focus on a particular niche, or even a micro-niche (that is, a niche within a niche).

There are pros and cons to both, but the best way to sell more is to go with the niche. Why? Simple. If you have a very broad site, people will visit it without a direct idea of what they want, or possibly even why they are there. They might look around, they might not. They won’t find out too much information from your site, as the topic they are interested in is not the focus of your site. Chances are they will leave pretty soon, and that will be the last you will see of them. If you get 10,000 hits, you might make a sale – but how are you going to get 10,000 hits to start with? With the lack of focus in your site, you probably won’t rank highly in the search engines for any particular phrase, meaning traffic may be hard to come by.

If you choose a niche however, things get easier – even though you are theoretically reducing our potential market. Suppose you choose Ford cars as your niche. There aren’t as many “Ford Car” sites on the internet as there are “random junk” sites. If someone searches for “Ford cars” and comes upon your site, they are immediately interested as it is your main subject matter, you will seem to know what you are talking about, and if they are looking to buy something related to Ford cars the chances of a sale are reasonably high. But suppose you microniche it. Make your site about “Ford car wheels”. People looking for Ford cars mirrors will be less likely to visit, but those looking for wheels will be there. You will have less search engine competition as not so many sites specialize in Ford car wheels, and anybody searching that phrase is most likely looking to buy or repair some wheels. Bingo. Sale.

For the purposes of simplicity, I would recommend you go for a niche site, if not a microniche.

But how do you choose a niche?

Choosing a niche

So, you’ve decided you want to create a niche site, and preferably a microniche at that. Now you just have to decide what to write about. Easy! Isn’t it?

Choosing your niche is a two step process – the first step is the initial idea for the niche, the second step is to evaluate how suitable this idea would be for turning into a profitable website. You may think you have come up with the greatest idea ever, but the rest of the world may not agree with you, and if you only end up getting 3 visitors a year all your hard work will be in vain.
So how do you pick a niche? If you already have an idea, great*. You just need to figure out what your specific microniche would be. If you haven’t thought of a niche, read on…

They say, “write about what you know”, and as far as niches go this is often a good idea. Of course you can always research niches you don’t know too much about, but let’s start easy.

  • Do you have any hobbies or interests?
  • Do you play any musical instruments?
  • Can you fix things?
  • Do you watch or play any sports?
  • Have you had a life changing experience? Maybe an illness, a change in a relationship, maybe even bought a house?
  • Do you have strong opinions on any subject?
  • Do you think there’s something wrong in the world and you might have the solution?
  • Do you have kids? Or perhaps care for an older person?

There’s a strong chance that you can say yes to at least one of the above, and this should be your starting point. You don’t have to be specific yet – maybe the idea you have is, “I like eating, so I’ll write about food” – and that’s good enough at this stage. In the next step, we’ll narrow this down to a microniche – maybe you should write about a particular type of food, a certain kind of restaurant, or perhaps a particular kind of diet.

You may have an idea – but try and come up with a few other ideas. Chances are, your first idea won’t work, and then you’ll be back to square one. It’s better to plan for the worst case in the beginning – after all, failing to plan is planning to fail!

Testing and finding your microniche

There are two things you need to test in your chosen niche – whether you will get any visitors, and the possibility of making any money.

Luckily, Google provides us with a tool for working on the first of these problems – the Adwords keyword planner.

I will use a very broad niche as an example – “dogs”. By visiting the Keyword Planner and clicking the option to Get Traffic Estimates, and typing in “dogs” as a keyword, I am told that as of today (and your results may vary depending on how soon after me you do this test) there are approximately 71 thousand searches daily for the word “dogs” – so people are interested

Unless you have something expensive to sell, it’s clear that “dogs” is much too broad of a niche! However, the keyword planner can assist you with more ideas, and possibly with choosing a microniche if you have not yet managed to do this.

In the keyword planner, I clicked the option to find related keywords, and again entered “dogs” as the keyword. The tool produces a list of related keywords/phrases in just a few moments – examples include “buy dogs”, “dog adoption”, and “dog costume” with the number of average monthly searches shown next to the keywords. Although there are less searches than for just “dogs”, it shows more targeted traffic. Someone searching for just “dogs” may be looking for wallpaper for their desktop; someone searching for “information about dogs” is probably not looking for wallpaper, and would be more likely to buy an information product for sale on your site about dogs. Maybe you feel that 100 visitors daily is not a lot…but why would you want 16 million people visiting your site if they were not interested in what you were doing?

But does your niche have the potential to make money?

In most cases, the answer is yes – the only variable is how much money. See if there are magazines available on your chosen subject. See if there are auctions on eBay with suitable products. Look on the Clickbank Marketplace and see if there are products you could sell on there. There are figures on the Keyword Planner that indicate how much it would cost to get a single click on the individual keywords, and this is related to how much you could earn from AdSense adverts on your website – but bear in mind you would only receive a portion of this amount, and not every visitor is going to click a link. The usual relationship is that the higher the cost, the more competition there is for the keyword, making it harder to appear in the search engine results for.

Set it all in motion

You now have the basics of how to start a money making website – you have an idea, a niche, and an indicator of whether you will be profitable. The only thing left to do is to turn this into a working site.

Creating a site from scratch is beyond the scope of this article; however, a further article giving full details of this will be posted in the near future. For now, you can start on a site like Blogger, which gives you all the tools to get going – and has built in Adwords and Amazon affiliate potential – you’ll find these options on the “monetize” menu after setting up your blog.

It’s best to get a few blog posts under your belt to begin with before attempting to monetize – the more people you can get interested in your site first the better.

If you know your niche well, just get in there and write. If you don’t, then do 15 minutes of research first, and then write a post. It’s often worth saving a draft and reading it over the following day to make sure you haven’t made any silly mistakes, and to give you a fresh perspective on what you’ve written – what seems amazing one day may well not look so good the following day.

Aim for a minimum of 400-500 words, and you should do well. Anything shorter won’t be taken too seriously by Google.

Another way to monetize your blog is to sell a third party product on it. Clickbank (as mentioned above) is a good source of such items, generally in the form of information products. Sign up for a Clickbank account here. You will receive commissions from sales, and receive a payment once every two weeks.

You can easily promote these products by writing a blog post about them, and placing your affiliate link in the text of the post.

And don’t forget to promote your blog on other sites too – Twitter and Facebook are just made for this – but more on that soon.

The web works for you

You are unlikely to make a million overnight. That said, your site will work overnight – 24 hours a day, in fact – and the more posts you add, the more people will visit, the more potential profit you will make.

Set aside a little time every day to write something new for your site, and before long you could be making hundreds a day. It takes a little dedication, but once the ball is rolling it will only gather speed.

Further articles on this subject will be posted soon, featuring information on site building, affiliate products, AdSense and alternative advert networks, paid traffic sources, and the use of video as a marketing tool.

“The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step…”

“…and if you start on my website, you’ll find we sell walking shoes at an amazing discount!”

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