Can You Legitimately Make Money Online?

One of the most interesting developments in the world of online marketing is the emergence of the digital nomad lifestyle. Thanks to the internet, it’s now possible to work remotely and pursue a life of luxury around the globe. But just how legitimate is this type of income? Is it even possible to “make money online”?

The short answer is yes, you can earn money online. But like any new industry, the digital nomad world is filled with all kinds of scammers and hustlers looking to take advantage of online entrepreneurs.

So how can you tell the difference between a legitimate opportunity and an opportunistic hustle? Let’s look at each step of the way.

1. Research The Market

The first, and most important, step toward profitable internet marketing is proper research. Before you start your adventure into the online world, you should first sit down and do some research on the habits of your target audience. What are they searching for? What sites do they visit?

With this information, you’ll be able to create content that speaks to their needs and interests. When someone visits your site, what do you want them to experience? What do you want them to accomplish? Create a buyer persona and build a buyer’s chart. These are vital steps that will guide you along the path to profitability.

On the subject of researching the market, it’s also important to note that the internet is global. While there are certain niche markets that you may find more beneficial to your business than others, the world wide web is your oyster when it comes to marketing.

2. Find Your Niche

Just because you can make money online doesn’t mean that you should try to make a profit from every avenue. While it’s always nice to have multiple streams of income, you shouldn’t overextend yourself. Finding your niche, or the specific group of people that you’ll be targeting with your website, product, or service, is vital to the success of your endeavor.

When you have a clear understanding of your target audience’s needs and interests, you can map out the path to profit more accurately. For example, if you’re marketing dog food, but most of your viewers are vegetarian, you might want to consider switching gears and marketing animal welfare products.

As you start to build up a following on social media, you’ll begin to notice trends and themes emerging. Use this information to inform your decision making and to find content that’s most effective for your audience. Remember, you’re trying to establish a brand for yourself and your product, so make sure that your chosen platforms offer the best overall experience for your target audience.

3. Create A Plan

It’s often said that no plan survives the first contact with reality, and this couldn’t be more true when applying to internet marketing. Just because you’re able to make money online doesn’t mean that you can just go ahead and start knocking down websites and capturing web visitors willy-nilly.

Creating a plan is important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, you want to make sure that you do everything in an organized and methodical manner. Having a plan will also help you stay focused and on track, as well as measure the success of your efforts. Last but not least, having a plan will make you much more comfortable with the idea of working remotely, as you’ll have something to fall back on in case of emergencies.

To create your plan, start by taking some time to research your target audience, as discussed in the previous step. After you’ve established a solid foundation, it’s time to add more meat to the bone by looking at what others are doing in your niche.

Examine what others are doing, not just what others are saying. Opinions and perceptions are all well and good, but you want to find out what’s actually happening in the market. Use different platforms to gather information, including Google Trends, which can help you dig deep into the data and find answers to all your questions.

4. Test, Measure, And Improve

Like any new marketing endeavor, you’re going to have to put in the time and effort to see results. Just because you have a plan, laid out in meticulous detail, with a clear marketing funnel, doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to make a quick comeback and start turning a profit.

The first step in the process is to test. Just because you’re a shrewd businessperson, with a keen eye for marketing analytics, doesn’t mean that you can accurately predict how effective a campaign will be. You need to put it to the test, and the best way to do that is with A/B testing. In simple terms, A/B testing is the practice of running two different versions of a webpage or email campaign, and adjusting the copy, images, and layout as needed based on the results of the testing.

For example, if you’re running an email marketing campaign and you notice that female recipients consistently perform better than male recipients, you might want to change the way you phrase certain pieces of information in your future email campaigns. Or, if you notice that someone on your target audience’s Facebook page tends to perform better than those on your own, you might consider creating a separate group just for that purpose.

Once you’ve tested and verified that your plan is successful, it’s time to measure and improve. Identify the areas that you want to improve on, based on your testing, and create a plan to address these issues. Don’t expect that your plan will fix itself, so be sure to take the time to verify that the efforts of your team are paying off, and create a new plan, based on the results of your verifications.

5. Set A Budget

Budgeting is important in all aspects of life, but it’s especially vital when you’re working remotely. It’s easy to get so absorbed in your work that you forget to eat, sleep, and breathe your passion. Without a budget, you may find yourself spending beyond what you would normally consider reasonable or acceptable.

If your aim is to make a profit, you’ll need to take into consideration how much you’re spending, and, more importantly, how much you’re earning. The former will inform your decision making, as to whether or not a certain project is viable, while the latter will allow you to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and projects. Setting a budget for your online marketing efforts isn’t difficult, and it’s vital that you do so. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending beyond your means and, subsequently, jeopardizing your entire project.

6. Secure Your Domain

One of the first, if not the first, thing that you’ll be asked to do when you secure your domain is to set up a website. While it’s always nice to have a professional-looking website with a polished interface and plenty of content, nothing speaks louder than an unsecured website. If you’re worried about security, especially if you have valuable personal information on your site, take the time to secure your domain. There are a variety of reasons why you may want to do this, including protecting your brand and preventing data breaches. Don’t expect that a simple security key will suffice; you’ll need to take the time to research the best solution for your needs. Sometimes this can be as easy as using a service such as Google Apps, which handles all the security for you. Apps like these are completely free, and it’s easy to set them up. Just make sure to do your research before committing.

7. Find A Legal Residence

This is one area where it’s extremely important to do your research. Just because you have a business plan doesn’t mean that you can run around the world, making millions of dollars, taking down websites, and avoiding taxes. You’ll still need to pay your taxes, and if you want to keep your money, you’ll need to find a legal residence.

It may seem obvious, but creating a business that operates remotely and independently from a headquarters is almost always going to involve some form of legal work. Depending on where you’ll be doing your business’ operations, you’ll need to consider what type of legal entity you need to operate under. If you’re incorporated, you’ll need to find a legal residence. In most cases, your state’s Corporation Commission can be your best resource for finding a corporate address. The same goes for LLCs (limited liability companies) and, for the brave entrepreneur, operating as a sole trader.