1. Start an eCommerce Site and Sell Physical Products
Make Money Online Start an eCommerce Site and Sell Physical Products Freelance
If finding a better solution to a problem hundreds or thousands of people have doesn’t seem like an option right now, you might be better off setting up a virtual shop and selling physical items.
These days, this couldn’t be easier. Sites like Shopify have made it easier than ever to build a customizable, powerful eCommerce site in a weekend and start selling products now.
This is probably one of the oldest and most time-tested ways of making money online. Plenty of digital entrepreneurs have created sustainable businesses by either:
Creating physical products they know people in their niche will love
Purchasing low cost goods manufactured in foreign countries, repackaging or combining them with other products, and selling them for higher prices on domestic online marketplaces
While you’ll certainly have higher levels of success if you can nail creating and marketing your own unique product, from my own experience (and that of many other entrepreneurs), I know the extremely high costs and risk associated with starting a product-based business.
Instead, if you can find a solid product that’s already being manufactured at a reasonable price from a marketplace like AliExpress, LightInTheBox, or DinoDirect and market it to your audience, you’ll have the start of a money-making eCommerce machine.
Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how your online store is going to operate.
Whether you’re selling your own new products or reselling other goods, you still have to consider how much stock you’re going to carry, how you’re going to fund upfront purchasing costs, and where you’re going to store your inventory. Remember, even if you avoid paying rent on a storefront, you still need to store your inventory somewhere.
Well. Not always. There’s another option that’s become incredibly popular in the last few years (and is my personal favorite way to operate a product business), called drop shipping.
With drop shipping, you’re effectively partnering with a manufacturer or wholesaler to sell their products. This way, you don’t pay upfront costs to buy inventory, aren’t sitting on unsold items taking up expensive warehouse space, and don’t have to deal with shipping the products yourself. You simply create your site, fill it with drop shippable products, and drive in customers, with almost everything else done for you.
Of course, there’s a higher price per product and your margins are lower, but you’re able to start your online store with little more than a Shopify theme and some hosted images of your products. When a customer makes a purchase, you in turn buy the product from your supplier who then ships it directly to your customer.
No inventory. No handling products yourself. No shipping by hand. Sounds pretty amazing.
If you want to supplement selling on your Shopify store with other marketplaces, here are a few other highly lucrative options:
Fulfilled by Amazon: Rather than drop shipping, Amazon lets you store your products in their own warehouses, making them available for Free 2-Day Shipping to Prime members. Which has been proven to significantly increase sales.
Etsy: If you’ve got handmade or crafty products, Etsy is a great marketplace to market and sell on (bonus points if your product is geared towards a more female audience)
eBay: The online auction giant is still in the game and especially good for selling electronics, gadgets, clothing and apparel, and accessories.
Craigslist: While the least scalable, it can be very cost- and time-effective to sell to people locally.
Just be sure to put a lot of care into your product listings. Everything from the titles you use, to how effective the description is at convincing potential buyers your product is better than the rest, and even taking care to shoot high quality product photos can have a dramatic impact on your sales. I recommend using photo editing tools like Fotor, which gives you the ability to edit your images, create captivating graphic designs and more.
2. Find Freelance Clients and Sell Your Services
Make Money Online Find Freelance Clients and Sell Your Services Freelance
If you have a marketable skill—like writing, designing, web development, marketing, project management, or anything else—one of the easiest ways to make sustainable extra money online is to start freelancing.
And while freelancing might not be as scalable as some of the other ideas we’ve spoken about, it’s not uncommon for solopreneurs to build healthy six-figure freelance businesses for themselves. (In fact, I’ve interviewed tons of them on my podcast!)
Today, over 54 million Americans are opting to forego traditional careers and start a freelance business.
There’s plenty of work and clients to be found. If you know where to look. To start, you need to know if there is enough demand for your skill to make it worth the effort to go out looking for work. Start by searching for freelance postings on sites like Flexjobs, SolidGigs, Contena, greatcontent or one of the dozens of other skill-specific freelance job boards.
How many postings are there for jobs similar to what you do? If there’s a decent amount and it looks like there’s steady demand, put those skills down on a shortlist and start researching the companies and industries that are hiring.
I’ve written a full guide to starting your own freelance business, but here’s a quick list to get you started:
Decide what your goal is: Do you want a bit of extra income or are you looking to go full-time freelance? It takes time to ramp up a freelance business working from home, so it’s important to know your goals from the outset.
Find a profitable niche: We’ve talked about this a lot. But, where are you most comfortable. What niche do your skills, values, and interests intersect? Do you have 10 years of experience as a technical writer? Do you have long-standing PR relationships that’ll be invaluable in helping startups launch a successful crowdfunding campaign? Determine what makes your value unique, and lean heavily on showcasing that strength to your potential clients.
Identify target customers: Write down exactly who you want as your client and then start researching those companies and making your list. You’ll want your portfolio and cold emails to align with the companies you’re reaching out to
Set strategic prices: The $37.50/hr you earn at your day job doesn’t even come close to the hourly rate you’d need to charge, in order to create the same net annual income, once you’re self-employed. This infographic on calculating your freelance hourly rate can help you decide what to charge.
Pitch, cold email, and sign your first clients: Now it’s time to go after clients. Mention them in your content. Reach out to them over email or LinkedIn. Tailor your pitch to show what kind of value you bring to the table. (You can even read my personal cold email templates).
Lastly, remember to always have a solid freelance contract in place.
You might be working on small jobs to begin with, but getting in the habit of not starting freelance work without a contract in place can save you big time down the road.