If You Want to Make Money Online Sell Something

A statement of the obvious? Not necessarily.

When I first started researching the idea of working online I found a gazillion sites offering me ‘foolproof’ systems that would ‘guarantee’ to have me earning thousands a week by this time next month.

And none of them involved a product.

Many (if not most) of the MLM or Direct Sales type businesses I’ve seen, some of which do have good products behind them, focus on signing up new members.

Not on the products.

Adsense is a popular way for people to monetize their sites but, again, no product. Plus, if you’re going to make money from Adsense you usually need to do a LOT of work for a paltry return.

And, as soon as Google changes it criteria, your income can be cut off. Overnight.

So what’s my point?

To have a sustainable, profitable online business you must build it around selling a real product or service.

The primary off-line businesses I can think of that built an income based on complicated, non-product related deals are the banks.

And look what happened to them in 2008.

Successful, sustainable off-line businesses sell good products that add value to people’s lives. And it’s no different online.

How to get a product to sell?

Actually, getting hold of a product to base your business on is not that difficult.

Here are 4 ways:

Create your own.

If you’re a programmer or have specialist knowledge in anything, you can create a software application or an information product (an ebook describing how to do something) and distribute it online.

Sell someone else’s product.

Affiliate marketing is well established and a lot of people make a lot of money from it.

Places like Clickbank, Commission Junction and ShareASale are great places to find products to sell and they have very good support for affiliate marketers (particularly Commission Junction).

With affiliate marketing you’ll earn a commission from the product owner for each sale referred by you.

Buy the re-sale rights to someone else’s product.

In this model you get to keep all the revenue from each sale. The downside is that where people are selling re-sale rights the products, as they stand, are often not good enough for you to make a living off.

You need to edit and add your own value to them and, before you do that, you need to make sure the re-sale rights enable you to do so.

You also need to consider how quickly the product may go out of date. Anything to do with working online is likely to be out of date within a year (or less), which means you will continually need to be tracking the industry and updating the product.

Although this is not a model I would go for, you can find lots of PLR products on this site.

Sell yourself.

Set up and run a membership site focused on your skill area or simply sell yourself as a consultant.

There are two revenue streams here:

  1. A membership site on its own can be very profitable through the monthly subscriptions it brings in
  2. You can separately charge consultancy fees for one-on-one consultancy or coaching sessions.

If you’re considering a membership site I strongly recommend Paid Memberships Pro – it’s an excellent membership site plugin for WordPress that I use on sites I build for clients.

So pick an area you’re interested or expert in and research your market. See what kind of questions people are asking and what kind of problems they have.

If you know how to fix their problems develop your own membership site and/or product to do so.

Otherwise, find a product that fixes their problems, via one of the other methods above, and build a business around it.


Martin Malden

Martin Malden
Owner – WealthyDragon

Website owner: Martin has been working online since 2006 and focuses on two areas: 1) affiliate marketing and 2) designing and building websites based on WordPress. He has his own WordPress agency, and serves clients in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK.

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Paul Jan 31, 2010 @ 4:39

    It’s true. Without a product you don’t have a business. I started off online selling physical products (art supplies) This is my core business at the moment and generates profits every month. I’ve moved into the affiliate marketing field and info products and found that the same basic business stratergies apply for all products.
    People think that because a business is on the internet it’s an instant winner. They soon realise this is not the case. The main thing the internet gives us is global access to customers for whatever product we’re selling. We then need to learn the skills to bring these customers to our websites and try to sell them things.
    Adsense, like you say, is a small return unless you can get a coupe of hundred thousand people to your site every day.
    I think you need to apply basic business skills to succeed online, like planning for example. And asking yourself deep questions.
    Like what is the objective of this website? Who am I targeting? How will I make money from the site? Etc
    I’m guilty of thinking the internet was just a case of putting up a website and everyone will come and buy things.
    I know better now. I now plan before lauching a web venture.

    .-= Paul´s last blog ..Things I’ve Learned Running An Online Business =-.

    • Martin Jan 31, 2010 @ 11:37

      Amen to that..!

      At the end of the day business is simple: you need more money coming in than you have going out.

      But it’s astounding how many of the silver bullet systems and opportunities gloss over that equation! (Like some of the so-called ‘data-entry’ opportunities, where you have to pay for your own adwords ads)

      Have (or get) a real product and sell it at a profit.

      That’s all you need to do. But you do have to budget and plan for it so you know how (and what) you’re supposed to be doing.



  • Angiel Jan 31, 2010 @ 4:54

    You are absolutely right, Martin. Although many online entrepreneurs will not want to hear it, without your own product you really are not controlling your online destiny; you are gambling with it.
    .-= Angiel´s last blog ..A Negative View Of My Baptism =-.

    • Martin Jan 31, 2010 @ 11:30

      Hi Angie,

      Yes – but it’s amazing how many people sell systems – especially the MLM and Direct Sales crowd. In most of those case the product is a distant second – even the good products!



  • Robert S. Nahas Feb 6, 2010 @ 5:23

    This is a great post! I have to agree with you. You need an exchangeable product. What I mean by exchangeable is that it has be have a desireable value to the consumer – which of course they then are willing to and DO pay money to get that product from you. The product should be of very high value. I keep my customers very happy and coming back to me by giving them a product that absolutely satisfies them – to the highest degree possible. I recommend doing the same.

    • Martin Feb 6, 2010 @ 8:30

      Hear, hear..!



  • Keith Davis Feb 6, 2010 @ 22:33

    Hi Martin
    The title says it all “If You Want to Make Money Online Sell Something”.
    I immediately thought… what can I sell? No idea.
    The rest of your post then gave me a few good ideas.

    Early days on my blog but it would be great to start making money.
    .-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..Practice, practice, practice… =-.

    • Martin Feb 7, 2010 @ 9:35

      Keith, hi,

      Yes – it’s nice when the first few pennies roll in!

      Good luck with that. If you’re not already doing so you should check out Darren Rowse’s Problogger. Lots of tips and ideas for monetising your blog there.



  • Prajish Sankar Apr 12, 2010 @ 20:31

    You’re right.. Adsense income is very uncertain..
    I think I’ll start affiliate selling soon. Thanks for the info.

    .-= Prajish Sankar´s last blog ..Speccy – Advanced System Information Tool For Your PC =-.

    • Martin Apr 12, 2010 @ 20:42

      You’re welcome – good luck with your affiliate selling!



  • zul Jan 21, 2011 @ 21:56

    you’re right..i’m still in the making of my own ebook..it’s will be my first product..but i feel a bit afraid when i want to launch my first ebook after this..coz i’ve not enough experiences in internet marketing and to attract traffic..anyway hope everything is well for me..i’m still learning.thanks!

    • Martin Jan 22, 2011 @ 7:38

      Delighted to hear you’ve got an ebook in the works!

      Lots of articles on this site on Internet Marketing, but the main thing is to produce a good product and get it out there.

      If you don’t have a product you don’t have a business.

      So get the book finished, make sure it’s good and then you’ve got something to market.

      All the best!