Many of the people I talk to believe that “You need to have money to make money.” and that is not altogether true…
You don’t need to have money to make money!
I’ll show you, step-by-step, 9 cost-effective (or free) revenue sources that have real potential to help you make it big.
Don’t have a 10,000 strong loyal blog readership yet? Not a problem.
Use someone else’s to your advantage.
Successful outreach campaigns are all about leveraging someone else’s industry influence.
Let whichever blogger do the hard work building up an audience and loyal customer base. You can profit off of them.
guest post on the blog
reach out to commentators of the blog
build a relationship with the blogger, then get him to promote your blog to his following
If you do this correctly, you get benefits. Huge ones. Here are a few:
high-quality, relevant backlinks from authority blogs (the kind that the nice little people in Google worship)
access their audience and channel the traffic to your website/blog
$0 cost starting out, but potential high returns
Here’s how Dries Cronje of Productive Entrepreneur did it on a guest post at Boost Blog Traffic.
That one guest post stirred up over 250 comments 600+ social shares. Talk about exposure.
2. Niche Forum Marketing
Forum marketing is a largely untapped customer acquisition and traffic channel.
Why do so few businesses choose to employ it?
One thing I do know, though, is that forum marketing rocks. It helps you build relationships with your audience, interact with them, and even sell to them, all for free.
But you can’t just hit up any random forum and start posting and promoting your links like mad. There’s certain etiquette you have to follow, like:
DON’T promote yourself. Let your interactions do the promotion for you.
Be nice (duh).
Be professional. People are going to look at your forum activity and make judgements on your business.
Be a human being.
Do what everyone else is doing — interacting, contributing, and building relationships.
The only thing different about you is the call-to-action and promotional link in your signature.
Just as important as your forum activity is the actual forum you choose to post on. Use the following as criteria for any forum you start marketing on:
relevant to your industry
very high traffic and huge member base
permission to have a link in your signature
regularly features in the SERPs (this ensures that different people see and click on your signature)
Quite a few forums don’t allow in-signature links.
There’s usually a sticky “Forum Rules” thread for every popular forum, so make sure that you read it before creating an account.
Once you become an active forum member with a good reputation, advertising becomes an option.
Unlike PPC or Facebook advertising, forum advertising isn’t very strictly moderated. Make sure you’ll get your money’s worth before you buy a banner by asking around to see if the forum has a history of producing ROI for other websites.
3. E-mail Marketing
Image credit: Cambodia4kids via Flickr.
Is e-mail marketing close to being six feet under? Is it time that we finally shut it up in a coffin and forget about it?
Some seem to think so, thanks to Gmail’s new Primary – Social – Promotions tabbed browsing.
But those guys are all wrong.
Saying that e-mail marketing is dead is like saying that a Big Mac is healthy for you…
So whether or not you think tabbed browsing has killed the e-mail marketing fun is irrelevant, because e-mail marketing is alive and well. In fact, it’s never been better.
On average, e-mail marketing has an ROI of 4,300% (spend $1, make $42 in profit) and 66% of consumers make online purchases due to marketing messages they received via e-mail (Hubspot).
It isn’t a nigh-impossible techi-only task either.
Just sign up with Aweber, setup a new campaign, plaster a few subscription forms here and there on your website, and start analyzing the results!
(Alternatively, take a look at a more comprehensive 9-chapter guide to e-mail marketing).
Over the past few months, webinars have been getting incredibly popular, and for good reason. They work.
Marketing blogs like KISSmetrics and HubSpot absolutely kill it with webinars. Hubspot has done several hundred in the past, and the former has a 15-strong webinar library that grows regularly.
Thanks to some useful tools like GoToWebinar, setting up a webinar is a breeze. The basic steps to it are:
Create an outline of the topic you will be presenting, and sort the information together into a slideshow. Remember to include a call to action/promotional message at the end of the webinar to profit from the user base.
Use GoToWebinar (free trial) to setup a webinar.
Create a landing page where users can register.
Promote it everywhere — on guest posts, your blog, social media, to your mailing list, etc.
Lights, camera, webinar.
Hubspot also released a comprehensive guide to setting up your first webinar — check it out.
Not only can webinars produce a high ROI, but they’re also great authority-builders that earmark you as an industry expert.
Podcasting isn’t as cost-effective as most of the other strategies listed here, but it just can’t be overlooked.
Because it has the potential to generate huge revenue. I’m talking five-figures per month in profit.
But that’s not the only way to monetize podcasts.
Now we get to the not-so-fun part: the costs.
decent microphone (cheap ones under $100, but it’s best to go pro and shell out low-to-mid three figures
miscellaneous recording equipment
audio file hosting (host it on your blog, and the podcast will be sloooow)
Even though each of these costs could probably have a freemium version, you’ll probably find that the $0 price tag will cost you way more in the long run.
Lastly, there’s also a sizable time commitment: writing/editing scripts, recording the podcast, and editing the audio are sure to drain your time.
You’ll even have to commit to spending more time with a podcast than with webinars, as podcasts are meant to be regular (weekly-to-monthly), while webinars are more one-off or rare.
Keep in mind that podcasts don’t always work for any and every business. Generally, they work better for B2B companies rather than B2C’s — especially marketing companies.
6. Affiliate Marketing
Image credit: WSH1266 via Flickr.
When asked what his favorite traffic generation strategy was in an interview, 7-figure Internet marketer Marc Milburn immediately replied affiliate traffic.
Why? It’s plentiful, profitable, scalable, and free until the affiliate drives a sale. What’s not to like?
The only thing better than selling your own product/service is having someone sell it for you. They do all the legwork, and you bring in the profit.
To manage an affiliate marketing campaign, I would suggest Clickbank. It makes recruiting, tracking, and paying affiliates super simple.
If you’d still like to keep your product independent of a third-party vendor, then use a WordPress affiliate plugin.
When you launch a campaign to recruit affiliates, make sure that your product is quality. Literally the best in its industry.
Super-affiliates (the bloggers who will bring you multiple sales per day) make a habit of only promoting high-quality products to their audience (which is how they become super-affiliates) — they aren’t just out to make a fast buck.
7. Digital Product Creation
I love digital products for two reasons: a.) they can make you money, and lots of it, but more importantly b.) they position you as an industry expert.
To illustrate point B, think about this — are you more likely to listen to someone who runs Google ads with a four-figure daily budget, or someone who’s authored a best-selling eBook on the same subject?
eBook? Me too.
A quality digital product masterfully promoted can make you famous. No joke.
It happened when Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People, and again when Tim Ferris released The 4-Hour Workweek Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.
It can happen to you. I guarantee it.
Best of all, it doesn’t require much money or time. The only expense you’ll have is the sales copy (which can always be written in house), and a few weeks to create the product.
Once it’s up for sale, there are very little overhead costs. Just recruit affiliates and let the product sell itself.
8. Affiliate Deals
Affiliate deals are pretty much the opposite of affiliate marketing — instead of recruiting affiliates to promote your product, you’re acting as an affiliate, promoting someone else’s product.
It’s a favorite blog monetization strategy for bloggers, mainly because it’s incredibly easy to setup.
For an in-depth guide to getting started as an affiliate, check out Nicky Cakes’s 7-part tutorial.
Keep this in mind, however:
Affiliate deals produce the highest returns when you promote products that you actually use and REALLY endorse.
Don’t try to pull the wool over your readers’ eyes by promoting a bad product you’ve never used.
They’ll call you out in a second, and boom — potential customer lost.
Be authentic, honest, and real to your audience, only promoting quality products that you personally have spent money on.
Here’s an affiliate link to BlueHost at WPBeginner. Notice how they include a full disclosure? Do that.
Affiliate deals can even snowball into a significant revenue stream for your business.
9. Website Advertising
Many websites don’t dabbled too much into selling advertising space on their sites for two reasons:
You need a boatload of traffic to earn anything significant.
It could potentially drive customers away from your website to a competitor’s. And that’s not cool.
Still, if you’re in dire straits right now, website advertising is still an option.
There are three basic advertising models:
CPC (cost-per-click: get paid every time some clicks)
CPM (cost-per-mille: get paid a set amount per 1000 impressions)
direct ad sales (liaise directly with the advertiser and charge a set amount per month for banner space)
Success with advertising depends on the volume and quality of your traffic.
Startup costs are $0.
If you do decide to go with it, remember that going overboard with it by selling every spare pixel on your website could actually ending hurting your business.
If you have a flea-sized budget to start profiting online, that’s not an issue.
There are many different ways to get customers and monetize your website out there — some that cost absolutely nothing — 100% of your revenue is profit.
Let’s quickly recap 9 of them:
Outreach — find out where your target audience resides online, and reach out to them through that medium.
Niche forum marketing — connect with your potential customers over a forum
E-mail marketing — set up a newsletter or mailing list to collect and market to your customers’ e-mail addresses.
Webinars — setup a webinar on a specific topic, promote it, and add in a short promotional message at the end.
Podcasting — setup a podcast to educate your niche audience, and monetize by promoting your own products or allowing paid sponsorships.
Affiliate marketing — recruit other bloggers and webmasters to promote your product in exchange for a percentage commission.
Digital product creation — develop a digital product in your niche and market it on your blog.
Advertising — use a CPC, CPM, or direct advertising model to allow third-parties to setup banner advertising on your website.
Affiliate deals — promote relevant, quality third-party products to your audience in exchange for a commission.
Which one’s your favorite?