Saturday, April 30, 2011

Self Sustaining Income Opportunities

My first step towards having a self-sustaining family came in the form of creating my own self-sustaining income.  I had a little bit of seed money, and I started looking for where to invest it to provide the lifestyle I wanted for myself and my family.

I've been an entrpreneur all of my life, and I've always had my own business.  The most important thing I ever learned as a business owner was how to create income on demand.  When my brick and mortar business went under, it was only because I could recognize opportunity that I was able to survive and take care of my kids. I was unemployable, even if we'd been in prosperous times, but with few jobs to be had, I was the least desirable employment candidate anyone had ever seen.

When you've always owned your own business, prospective employers assume, usually correctly, that you have problems with authority.  Add to that the fact that I was a single parent, a single mother, and the worst economic time in the United States since 1929, and I had to figure out what to do to earn a living.

One place I could see that people were still making and spending money, was online.  There are so many income opportunities online that it's almost impossible to keep up with them all, but we'll try in this post.

The two most general models are selling services and selling products.

Selling Services - Selling services can include such things as: 

Basics- All methods of making money online will require some special skills relating to the respective model, but these basics are easy to learn, always in demand, and the perfect start to generating a necessary self-sustaining income.

Writing- articles, press releases, reports, emails, auot-responders, and direct response copywriting like classified ads, sales letters and email marketing campaigns.

Graphic Arts- artistic design for websites like logos, headers, backgrounds, footers, customer order buttons and product covers.

Other forms of creation:  videos, audios.

*Any creation, written, visual, or audio can be of small size for web distribution meant to promote a product, or can serve as a product itself.

Most of the basic skill sets are easy enough to learn, but article writing and video making require the least amount of time to acquire the skills for.

Intermediate- The intermediate level methods of making a self-sustaining income online require a whole new set of skills, slightly more advanced than the basics, and requiring a slightly longer time frame for learning the skills to perform these tasks.

Virtual Assistant- performing tasks customer support, technical support, website submissions, content submission.

Search Engine Optimization Services- these services are mainly focused on providing on-page SEO advice and implementation for website owners, and off-page SEO services like link wheel building and back linking.

Technical support services- at the time of the writing of this post, WordPress is the website building platform of choice.  It's supposed to be the easiest way to build a site, and it is easy, as long as you don't want to customize it any way.  Offering the customization of these sites has meant a lot of big business for those who know php and css.

Advanced- Advanced level services require strong proof that you have mastered the skills of the basic and intermediate levels, but here is where you really start doing less work for more money, and your self sustaining income can now be the foundation you need for a completely self-sustaining lifestyle.

Brokering- bring other service providers and potential clients together and collect fees for doing it.

Project Management- manage groups of service providers for other entrepreneurs, or manage project such as affiliate recruitment, joint venture deals, and product launches.

Although when you first start selling 'services' your clients will tell you their niches and keywords, as your experience grows and you begin to move to higher levels such as brokering or selling content packages, you'll need to start learning about niche research, which becomes the # 1 Skill you need for product marketing. Learn more about niche research here.

Selling Products- Selling products is the most sought after, and profitable method of attaining not just a self-sustaining income, but a passive self sustaining income.

There are multitudes of products to sell, and ways to sell them, online.  You can sell any physical or digital product of your own, which you create or have created for you (physcical products produced by manufacturing processes, digital products like books or software that you create or outsource the creation of) or you can sell any physical or digital products of someone else's, as an affiliate, for a commission on the sale.  You can also sell advertising space.  Pay per click advertising models like the Google Adsense Program allow you to profit from adspace on your own websites or blogs, and as you get more traffic you can opt for more profitable advertising like banner ad placements from direct advertisers.

You can sell these products from blogs, websites, classified ads, to email lists you build, or adswap with, or buy solo ads on.  But it is recommended that you always have your own website or blog to sell your wares from.

Your sites and blogs can also profit from another kind of advertising model called CPA.  CPA stands for Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition, depending on the model.  You're advertising, by using traffic generation methods such as article publishing, classified ad publishing, ezine publishing, email marketing (via your own list or through solo ads and adswaps) to people to either get them to do someting (i,e. submit their email address, call a 800#, etc) or to 'do' something such as participate in a survey or a trial offer for a new product.  What you're generally advertising here is a lead generation campaign for some other company.  You're not necessarily trying to 'sell' anything, only to give something away for free or for a nominal fee, such as shipping and handling, in order to get contact information for the merchant to build their list of prospects that they hope to turn into customers.

Back to products...  The wide variety of products you can sell range from affiliate products, your own products, Private Label Rights products, resell rights products- and all can be either physical or digital.

Most marketers start with affiliate products because the niche research product creation and copywriting is already done, and all the affiliate marketer needs to do is drive traffic.

Amazon and Clickbank are the two most talked about affiliate programs for marketers. Clickbank is mainly digital products where Amazon is mainly physical products.

Private label rights products and master resell rights products are a second choice, and you can find physical private label rights products too.  These products allow you to control the sales process as much as having your own products do.  With affiliate marketing, your commission is set to whatever the vendor is willing to pay, and you get paid according to the terms of the affiliate manager, sometimes waiting over a month before you get a check.

Your own products offer you the most versatility.  You keep all the money from your sales, and you can put your product in affiliate marketplaces and have affiliates advertise and make sales for you for their commissions.

Once you learn what you have to sell, it's time to figure out how to go about selling it.  This means deciding on a platform (storefront) such as website or blog, and how to get traffic to it... market and advertise it.

Some traffic generation methods include:
Article Marketing
Press Release Submissions
Classified Ads
Email marketing - (this is a model in and of itself.  There are a lot of marketers who have built up huge lists and the only way they make money is by selling 'solo ads' -email advertisements for other marketers- to that list)
Video Marketing
Forum Advertising
Banner Advertising
Pay Per Click Advertising
Cost Per Action Marketing- as the merchant/vendor
Adswaps (part of email marketing)
Joint Ventures
Guest posting on related sites/blogs...

Some of these methods are free, others will cost some money.  Even those that are free, however, such as article marketing can cost money if you choose to outsource the writing and distribution/syndication of your articles.  While it does require an up front cash outlay to outsource these things, it's actually more profitable than trying to do it yourself.

 If you do the proper research, you can easily find niches that will offer you the chance to make $50.00 a from one site, and creating just 10 of those sites is fairly easy.  And while each method of traffic generation is fairly easy, it's the combination of methods and sites that will offer you success, and all of those things combined can take a lot of time.

 Some so-called 'experts' advise to pick one model and stick with it until it's 'making money' and only then try something else.  The problem with that advice is in the words 'some money.'  I prefer the more structured approach of setting a profit goal that I know will pay my salary (bills), how much I have to spend to get that much return.  Armed with that information, there are a ton of ways to raise that initial seed capital.

With plan for a self-sustaining income in place, you can be on your way to becoming a self-sustaining family.

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