The first thing I want to mention, and which you will see me constantly reinforce is this: I had a clear cut plan of what I wanted to do for work before I left my job. Actually, before I actually left, I spent about 8 months building up my first internet business. My nights and weekends were completely consumed by my new business, Blind Surprise. I spent my 8 hours a day working at my job, hit the gym, and then spent 8PM – 1AM working on growing my business. Weekends were most of the same. So, I do not recommend just walking into your bosses office and calling it a day without a plan.
As I started growing my business, I also explored various other methods of earning income online. And what I realized was that there is a method that works fitting everybody’s strengths. Some people may not be great internet marketers, but there still are opportunities. Here, I will outline the four main methods I have used to generate revenue online.
As I mentioned above, my first business I started online was Blind Surprise. I received a package one day that was addressed to somebody else. My roommates and I brought the package inside, and contacted the recipient on Facebook letting him know of the mistake. It took him a couple of days to come over and grab it, and during those two days, we must have discussed opening it 100 times. We were just so curious as to what was inside this box. So, I thought, how about starting a business that delivers surprise gifts to people. They sign up, tell me their interests, and I’ll send them something awesome that fits their profile – or, send surprise gifts to somebody else!
So, Blind Surprise was born. I had a bit of experience with internet businesses, as I was involved in the launch of BroHats.com while I was in college (which we later sold), so it wasn’t a completely new venture to me. Blind Surprise works with up and coming designers and artists, to get unique products to the market that you cannot find in stores. A unique surprise gifting experience – receive a mystery box at your door that could contain any beautiful product from a US artist. To ensure you will love your gift, you sign up and tell us your interests, and we send a perfect gift for your personality. PERFECT for gifting as well.
Blind Surprise has grown and developed, and even if I say so myself, our service is really unique and fun. We’re very passionate about our brand, and in turn, and built a loyal fan base. We now have hundreds of subscribers who either send or receive a surprise gift at the start of each month. Growing this business has taken lots and lots of time, and there were numerous occasions when we were on the brink of dropping the whole thing and moving onto the next idea. But, due to our dedication to the brand, and real belief that it was a great idea, we stuck with it and have built Blind Surprise into a profitable online company.
In my opinion, e-commerce is the method that provides the most reliable source of income, but takes the most time to see returns. When building an e-commerce store, you are really building a brand, one that giants like Amazon and Ebay cannot completely stomp out. Your brand will have a fanbase, which is extremely valuable.
Fulfillment by Amazon
When deciding that I wanted to build my own business, I started following many influential people in the entrepreneurial/startup space, one being Pat Flynn. He posted a podcast about a couple that was earning their income completely by selling products on Amazon. So, I decided to take a stab at it.
The Fulfillment by Amazon program is expensive, but easy as hell. In a nutshell, you go out and buy products that have enough of a margin to be profitable when selling on Amazon. Then, you enter the products into Amazon, and ship them off to an Amazon Fulfillment Center somewhere in the US, and let Amazon do the selling, fulfillment, and distribution, and they deposit the earnings into your account. The downside is that Amazon takes 33% of your sales as their fee for storing and fulfilling all your orders.
The idea is to find products that are marked down HEAVILY (50%+) because even with the 33% charge from Amazon, the sales will still be profitable. I also particularly enjoyed shopping around for my inventory for FBA. The benefit of using this service as a means for internet income is that you do not need any web development or internet marketing skills. Imagine Amazon as the biggest Walmart in the world, and your products are on the shelves. All you have to do is find the products and send them over.
When you refer business to other businesses, they pay you a fee. This is affiliate marketing, simple as that. I currently make money through affiliate marketing 2 different ways:
1. This Blog – Through the course of my eCommerce venture, I have learned to love many products that helped me get off the ground running, and have helped me automate aspects of my business. When I discuss these products throughout the blog, I usually post a link to them. If you click that link and make a purchase from my referal, I get a fee. This is one of the most common ways to monetize blogs. I reason that many bloggers pick this method as opposed to posting banner ads all over their site is because (1) it allows you to give honest reviews of products based off personal experience, ensuring your followers will be satisfied, and (2) you avoid making your blog look like a big billboard. How much do you like looking at blogs that are covered in banner ads across the top, side, and bottom? No beuno.
2. Cool Things Addict – One of the big aspects to running Blind Surprise is sourcing our gifts. We work with 4-6 different product designers monthly, but through the course of our research, we come across tons of awesome products and some of them just don’t fit the mold of what we are looking for as gifts. But, we hate wasting all this research time. So, we decided to build a website just feature cool things to buy online. Here’s the way this site works – whenever you click on one of the links, and make a purchase, we receive a commission for the purchase. This is affiliate marketing in a nutshell.
Throughout this blog, I will go into detail about each of these methods of income, and feature other people who are experts in each field. None of these are ‘get rich quick’ ideas – they all take lots of time, energy, and skill in order to become profitable. But, my true feeling is that there is a method for everybody! Some people may be great at marketing (eCommerce), and others may be great at sourcing (FBA), while others just have a unique set of information that people love to follow (blogging). At the end of the day, there is hardly any technical skill required at all to be successful in one of these fields. Together, this blog will teach and discuss the methods to get rolling, and start pursuing your passion!
Photo credit to The Trading Academy