You can make money on the internet. Perhaps you have a business that could use some extra sales. Perhaps you have a hobby that you love to write about. Or perhaps you have a skill that needs to be promoted.
The internet can help you with all these things. Furthermore, the internet can help you negotiate the tough times of rapid change that we're going through right now and will most likely be going through for some time to come.
What makes the internet so valuable?
The internet dissolves boundaries of time and space. In the recent past, it took a letter up to a week to reach its destination, at a cost that increased dramatically if you wanted the letter to get there faster. Now, thanks to the internet, no matter what their destination, letters arrive a few seconds after you send them. Since time is money, you should be able to use this instant communication to your advantage.
It used to be that your business had to have a good location to make money, and for many businesses this is still true. But if you can locate your business on the internet, all locations are the same. If you think that you have to have a well-known brand or a catchy sounding internet address to succeed, consider some of the brands that have succeeded. Who ever heard of Yahoo before the company hit it big? Google used to be an obscure mathematical term. Amazon was the name of a large river. All these companies are progeny of the internet, and they are among the most successful companies in the world.
Many internet services are free, or almost free.
1. Webmail. Webmail is email that lives on the web. I use google's webmail, gmail. Its main advantage is that you have plenty of space on their server so you never have to throw away a message--you know, the message that you thought you were finished with but turned out to have valuable information. Gmail is free, although there are advertisements that appear unobtrusively in the upper right hand corner of the message page. The ads are interesting in themselves. They are posted by a google product called adwords. If you read them in relationship with your messages, you will notice that there are key words in the message that trigger the ads. Not all of them make logical sense, but many do, and when they do, you will find you are looking at an ad intended specifically for you.
A word of warning about email. This is a powerful tool for keeping in contact with your customers and informing them of new products. But it is also the primary method many people have for keeping in touch with friends and conducting business. If you send out an occasional email to your mailing list, you will probably be accepted or even welcomed. But if you cross the line and send out too many messages, especially if they have nothing new or important to say, your emails will be labeled as spam and cut off. So be careful to send actual communications and not just boilerplate advertisements.
2. blogger.com (blogspot.com)--this is Google's free blogging service. Once you have a gmail account, you can also have a blog, also called a weblog. It could also be called a diary, but that sounds old-fashioned, doesn't it? The idea is to attract a group of followers and give them daily reports on your business, or your hobby, or whatever. On the internet, you have access to millions of potential customers, but you also have thousands of competitors, so you must promote your business constantly. Weblogs are a good way to do that.
Weblogs are better than direct emails for this purpose because people do not expect personal communications from weblogs. They go to your site to find the latest in what you're doing. But you must make your weblog attractive to them so they keep coming back. Keep updating the material at least once a week. If that seems like too much work for you, perhaps you should avoid starting a weblog.
3. Facebook. Facebook is the leader among a group of social networking programs. It currently has 250 million users and continues to expand rapidly. It is particularly popular in the US and Brazil, but has users all over the world. Most people use Facebook to network with their friends and make new ones. The level of communication is very personal, with comments like, "I just got to work" or "I had a great vacation". But there are also opportunities to make business connections. You can create a business page on Facebook and you can ask all your contacts to become "fans". They will then receive all the updates you put onto the business page.
Facebook has advantages as well as drawbacks. The main drawback is that you need to get all your customers to sign up. Of course, with 250 million users on Facebook right now, the chances are good that some of your customers are there already. Besides, isn't this is the major problem you have right now? Getting people to become customers?
Facebook's primary advantage is that it places your business in a comfortable environment and makes it easily accessible to your clients. Facebook makes it easy to put interesting content on your business page. It also has advertising that targets its users, which will be very cost effective if the people on facebook are potential customers.
4. Another free resource is YouTube. If you have the ability to create videos, this could be very useful for your business. A big advantage of the internet is you don't have to squeeze all your information into a 30-second time slot. Once again, the internet expands the boundaries of time and space. Your video can be as long as you want. You can make infomercials and post them without any extra charge for their length. One possibility would be to use YouTube as a trial audience. Find out which parts of your video are effective and which are not.
It would be better, perhaps, to store your videos on YouTube and have your customers access them from somewhere else. YouTube users tend to enjoy celebrity gossip and crude humor, so you might not care what they think about a serious business proposal. But YouTube lets you put a video onto a web page or a blog or a Facebook page just as you would put a picture there. So you can control the way a person watches your video and you can control the context, asking your own questions and choosing your own audience.