Let's get this out of the way right now... making money online is not easy. You can break it down into 3 steps... and it doesn't matter what anyone tells you, there are no shortcuts.
You must overcome three challenges!
And, conquering these challenges requires time and/or money. No exceptions.
NOTE: Gig Hustlers always recommends investing your time (not your money) for newbies. There are plenty of free resources available and scammers prey on selling products that beginners don't fully understand. Always take the time to learn.
Getting back on topic, learning step one (the technical challenge) is not hard, but it takes time.
Then you're ready for step two; traffic. You need your audience, and there are only two ways to get it,
But there are always trade offs...
Not paying for takes time and effort.
Paying for it is fast, but it requires money, and lots of it.
And, for most people... this is where it goes sideways...
They learn part one (technical) and then they pay for part two (eyeballs)... but they don't understand part three (conversions) and they end up going broke.
They are buying an audience, but they have no idea how to turn their audience into customers.
Depending on how deep their pockets are (or how high their credit limit is), the either run out of money, get frustrated, quit... call it a scam, or get caught up in a cycle of buying every new program, product, and promise of success they stumble on.
How big is your budget? Probably not so big you can spend it indefinitely.
The alternative is NOT paying for traffic (which is what we'll talk about here), which is targeted traffic (because it's searching for you)... and it provides you with a stress-free platform to figure out part three (conversions)... because you're not paying per eyeball.
It takes time, effort, and patience.
And that's the challenge of making money online. You don't need to know anything more... unless of course you're up for the challenge... then keep reading.
I said there were no shortcuts, but there are "what appear to be" a couple exceptions when it comes to step one (technical). You can pay to outsource the technical side of your online business, but this get's expensive and does not make sense if you're not yet making money.
Another apparent exception is a "done for you" system or sales funnel (you may have seen these). The problem with these systems is that others are buying the same system. In fact... most of those systems are just designed to sell more systems.
Also, they ONLY work with paid traffic strategies (you will NOT generate enough FREE traffic with a "done for you" system to make money online), and what at first seems "affordable" can quickly turn into several thousands of dollars...
You end up paying to advertise the same system as others, which quickly becomes saturated as everyone is limited to the same advertising channels and strategies (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc).
In the end... avoiding the technical step is NOT a short cut, and paying thousands of dollars to advertise is a legitimate risk.
The next question most people ask is where does the money come from?
It sounds simple (not easy... but simple)...
But, how many people really buy stuff online? And, are you expected to buy, sell, and ship products.
The answer to the first question; A lot of people buy stuff online. In 2017 an estimated 1.66 billion people purchased something online and sales totaled 2.3 trillion dollars.
The second question; No... you do NOT have to buy stuff, sell it, or ship it.
You may be surprised to know there are legitimate businesses that will pay you a commission when THEY sell one of their products online.
I'm not talking about a shady underground business (although those do exist). I'm talking about companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Bestbuy and even the NFL.
This business model is called AFFILIATE MARKETING.
There are many ways to make money online. Affiliate marketing is just one...
Having said that, affiliate marketing is how most people start, and even those who move onto eCommerce, selling their own products, or building online agencies and so on... still do affiliate marketing.
In fact, affiliate marketing often accounts for more than half of their income.
And this is PASSIVE income we're talking about.
The reason most people start with affiliate marketing and continue with it, is because there are...
The other great thing about affiliate marketing is that you can do it with anything you're passionate about or interested in.
If you've ever searched for anything online... you've been exposed to affiliate marketing.
Whether it was gardening or guitars, recipes or running, travel or tiny houses... you probably stumbled onto a website (or YouTube video) that was earning a passive income through affiliate marketing.
Most of these websites and videos are not "selling" anything or promoting products directly. Nor are they engaged in high-pressure sales tactics or aggressive marketing strategies.
They are usually people writing or talking about their passions and interests. And... if you found them from searching (rather than being advertised to), their primary source of traffic is FREE.
They are using two things that are fundamental to their long-term success.
Why are these two things important? Because they are key to making your online business sustainable.
As I said from the beginning... making money online is not easy. You will have set-backs, doubts, frustrations, negativity from friends and family, and more than likely hit a wall (and when you get over that wall, there will be another).
It's all part of the process, and it's why those who succeed online are the ones who just keep going. Success lies beyond the point where most people won't go.
Critical to overcoming these challenges is to make it fun, and that means sticking to your passions and interests. The things you would spend time on even if building an online business was not your ultimate goal.
That's how you make it personally sustainable.
Free traffic is what makes it financially sustainable.
With the combination of passion and affordability... you have the two ingredients of a long-term strategy to earn a passive income online.
And that's where many people get it wrong. They start out with something they don't care about, and they buy traffic that doesn't turn into customers (aka - phat stacks of cash).
If their lack of interest doesn't do them in, running out of budget will.
We've talked about the three steps to earning a passive income online.
And, the two key ingredients to succeed where most people fail
But, that's obviously not enough to get you started.
So... where do you begin?
There are two more crucial pieces to this puzzle.
We've already talked about keeping it affordable, and nothing is cheaper than FREE... so if you have a look at the STARTER column in the chart below, the Canadian based company Wealthy Affiliate has some free resources you can take advantage of (No, you don't need to be Canadian :-) Wealthy Affiliate is available all around our blue globe).
Key to making it all happen is your website with training to set it up. Your Step One!
As you'll notice, Wealthy Affiliate's (read review) starter membership which is $0/month (and the best part... does NOT require a credit card) comes with 2 FREE websites and training to set them up.
That's NOT for a limited time. The training and websites are yours for as long as you want them.
And... it's critical to start with all the FREE resources you can find (especially those that don't require a credit card).
The web is full of really good marketers (and many scammers) that are good at getting people to pay for things before they even know what they're buying.
The real benefit to using FREE tools and training is that you learn what you really need before spending a dime (and in some cases, people find out that an online business is not even their thing).
So... if there's one piece of advice here, it's to NOT spend money when starting out. It's not necessary when you have free resources available.
Wealthy Affiliate also provides a limited version of their keyword tool, video walk-throughs, and 7 days of One-on-One Live Help.
What's more, and the main reason Gig Hustlers recommends Wealthy Affiliate, is that it's a training platform that focuses on FREE traffic (specifically for the reasons mentioned here).
As mentioned... always start with free resources. A little knowledge and experience can save you thousands.
For those who reading who might have some experience already, Wealthy Affiliate has their premium membership which is $49/month (or $29/month paid annually).
It comes with the entire suite of tools you need, thousands of hours of training, and one of (if not the) biggest community of online entrepreneurs to help you build a long-term and sustainable passive income online.
Everything under one roof and integrated. No third party tools and a focus on FREE traffic, so you always have full control of your budget (remember... financial sustainability).
For those ready for the next step you can get your FREE tools and training here. If you're here because you're thinking about making money online and just wanted to learn a little more about it... we really appreciate that you've read this far :-) and hopefully the information provided here has been valuable.