QUESTION on How to Make Money Online as an Affiliate:
I am a 51 year old professional in New York who had to take early retirement because of a very serious disability. In order to supplement the SSI payments, and to remain as active as possible, I am contemplating starting an Internet business run by myself. Initially, I would like to sign up with several Affiliate businesses where I would put their products on my web site, and when an item is purchased, the item would be shipped from that company to the customer.
I would be paid a commission. I would like some assistance with the following:
1. Do I need to set up a Company; if so which type would be best for me?
2. I live in New York, do I have to register and incorporate there?
3. If not, for my kind of company, what are the advantages/disadvantages of doing it there?
4. What other things will I need to do?
5. Could you suggest the best way, and in what order these things should be done.
– Andrew (Tampa, Florida)
ANSWER by Isabel Isidro
The Internet has allowed many retired and nearly retired folks, including those with disabilities, to earn money. The key, however, is having the right type of website for earning money.
Let us start first with your business model. Affiliate marketing, where you sell items for other businesses for a commission, is one of the most popular business model on the Web. However, you did not mention the most important element – your content.
The content will bring in the visitors, who hopefully are interested in the products offered by the affiliate programs you’ve participated in. Without unique, interesting or informative content, an affiliate-focused site is nothing but a hodgepodge of affiliate banners put on a page. This type of website has no value, and as such, will be difficult and expensive to get traffic. After all, why would the visitor come to your site and not the company running the affiliate program? Hence, income is going to be minimal and, unfortunately, disappointing.
The right approach is to think of the content of the website first. Decide on a focus; say, a website on cameras where you write reviews about different makes and models of cameras. The audience this type of website attracts are those consumers looking to buy a camera, professional photographers wanting to learn the new equipment in the market, and other camera enthusiasts.
Once you’ve identified the market the site will attract, the next step is to think of what types of products they may be interested in – and then you find companies offering such affiliate programs. One such company is Amazon.com Associates program, as Amazon offers cameras for sale as well as photography books that camera lovers would want. A good affiliate program could also include photo developing and sharing sites such as Snapfish.com or Kodak Gallery or Ritzpix.com.
Affiliate programs only give you commission if the visitor does their desired action – whether it is a sale or a lead. The goal, therefore, is to find targeted visitors who will be responsive to the advertiser’s call to action.
As for business setup, you can start as a sole proprietorship, which is simpler and less costly to start. You will not be running a service business, which has a high likelihood of getting sued and therefore best to incorporate right from the start or start a Limited Liability Company (LLC). You can register your business with your local county or city, and once the business actually demonstrates its income generating potential, then you can consider changing your legal structure and maybe even incorporating.
As for setting up a business in New York, you may want to check out our page on How to Start a Business in New York, which contains links to state government prepared guides on starting a business in the state.
However, the first step is to think what you need to do given your special circumstances, and be open to other ways you can earn money from the Web. You may want to read USA Today’s article “’Gray Googlers’ strike gold”, an article that talk of how retirees are earning well from the advertising program of Google called Adsense.
Aside from affiliate programs, which many find to be harder to rely on as the main source of income, you may want to consider the following ways to earn from a website:
1. Join an advertising network. Advertising networks are organizations that aggregate Web sites that offer advertising space, and sell banner ads (and other advertising options) across them. Traffic requirement is often a minimum of 5,000 monthly impressions, although many do not accept sites hosted by free page services.
Burst Media http://www.burstmedia.com
Tribal Fusion http://www.tribalfusion.com
2. Participate in contextual advertising networks. Contextual advertising are text ads delivered based on the content of the web page using an automated system.
Google Adsense https://www.google.com/adsense/
Advertising.com Sponsored Listings http://www.advertising.com/advertiser/sponsored-listings
IndustryBrains (Marchex) http://www.industrybrains.com
3. Sell advertising for your site directly. This is admittedly a more difficult route for a small business site wanting to earn advertising revenues. But hey, as they say: “no pain, no gain!”
Hope the above resources help!
Recommended Books on How to Make Money Online:
- Make Money Online: Roadmap of a Dot Com Mogul
- The Six-Figure Second Income: How To Start and Grow A Successful Online Business Without Quitting Your Day Job
- Get Rich Click!: The Ultimate Guide to Making Money on the Internet
- The Complete Guide to Affiliate Marketing on the Web: How to Use and Profit from Affiliate Marketing Programs
Article originally published December 8, 2007. Updated January 20, 2012