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You also need to consider how quickly the product may go out of date.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.