The Problem Trying to Make Money Online, and The Solution?

I often get asked if it is still possible to make money online now that everybody seems to be trying to achieve  it, and when there are what seems like a never-ending influx of people promoting products, and business opportunities. It is a good question, because no doubt when the internet was in it’s infancy, say 12-15 years ago there was definitely a LOT less activity, and this leads into a really good question: Can you still create an income for yourself?

I wanted to put a few letters down on virtual paper as to a few thoughts I had regarding where I feel the internet is going, and where it is possible to still make a few quid, so let’s run down a few possibles, and then I will give my take on it, it is more a ‘thinking out loud’ moment 🙂

let’s start with eBay…

Can You Still Make Money on eBay?using ebay to start a business

I don’t know about most people, but when I started online it was mainly eBay where many thought they could turn to their hand to making a few quid. Ten years ago it was easily possible to conjure up money by selling your own products on eBay (it still is), but a lot of people realised early on that there was definitely an opportunity to start a real, solid business on eBay and make a lot more money on top of what they could make selling their unwanted items, and there were thousands doing it – including myself, who became a powerseller very quickly.

People seemed to buy anything early on. I think the novelty of being able to purchase something online, and being able to ‘rank’ the seller by feedback fascinated  a lot of people. Many people also had their very first online buying experience with this auction website, which built online consumer trust like no other. I also know that many people got a ‘buzz’ out of being able to scold sellers who were not sending their items quickly enough, and thus would leave them negative feedback. I actually look back on the start of eBay with very fond memories. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, that eBay gave many people their first opportunity to be able to start making a little extra online, and eBay definitely made it very easy to start – it was revolutionary, no doubt about it.

It didn’t matter what you looked like, what you were wearing; if you had products to sell, you could make money sitting in your underwear all day, if you wanted to – and many did, and made huge amounts of money very quickly, which changed the lives of many. Those early days of selling on eBay were truly fantastic for all who were in at the start. I remember reading about sellers who started from their kitchen tables, and then went on to filling massive warehouses with stock – in just a matter of months.

I, myself, made a lot of money on eBay, and I conversed with many others who did the same. I remember sellers advertising what now would be considered as nothing more than ‘rubbish’ and still making great sales. Those days we will never see again, unfortunately. A lot of it was down to timing, and others who were selling at that time will know exactly what I am saying. It was easy pickings in those days, and sellers took advantage, and built their businesses as large as they could to capitalise on this new way of making money.  It was almost like a free-for-all. Oh, the memories…

PayPal Was Revolutionary To Making Money Online

What really gave eBay the boost was buying PayPal. How great is PayPal, eh? 🙂 Ok, Ok, I know some people have had problems with their accounts, but the same could be said about any ‘merchant’ facility, there will always be a minority who have a few teething problems, but on the main, PayPal was, and still is a truly fantastic tool; without which most people who start an online business simply wouldn’t be able to; that is a fact, because the alternative would be applying for a ‘real’ merchant account from your bank, and believe me when I say this, that it is nowhere near as easy to get, to start taking credit cards online!

Then a few problems, and niggles started to creep in

Affer some truly fantastically profitable years, eBay started to make some serious changes to their business model, increase charges, and make amendments to how sellers traded on their online platform. Their own forum was inundated with complaints from sellers who didn’t want their newly created income streams interfered with,  reduced, and rightly so. But, eBay had different ideas and at the time. It seemed they had forgotten about the very customers who had helped them build their business in the first place. Some businesses get so large that it becomes a numbers game to them, and when you have millions of customers worldwide, it becomes easier to upset a minority; whereas when they started, eBay were much more approachable by their customer base. Sadly, this quickly changed.

The problem now with eBay, and starting a business on there these days, is that so many of the larger online retailers have started to set up shop, too (I personally think this was eBay’s goal all along!), and this means that unless you have the right supplier infrastructure in place you can easily get swamped out of the running. And then you have sellers like Babz taking huge amounts of customers to their listings with very low prices. And Babz, who although are a UK company, are actually now the largest eBay sellers in the world. Just look at their feedback here, it is truly incredible just how many customers have been through their virtual doors:

Babz_on_eBayBabz are now on their way to nearly 5 million feedback. Wow! And if you have never used them, some of their prices are extraordinarily cheap. Just how they can post some of their products for the prices they do does not make economic sense, especially when you consider the postage costs that must be incurred. It is similar to all these Chinese sellers who ship from China, including the postage, for just 99p. It makes you wonder how they are making a profit, and not making a loss, and from what I have seen, Babz on eBay is very similar – not always a conventional way to make money online from their products – maybe many of their products are loss leaders? who knows.

Great business model if you can afford to offer it, but how are they doing it? Anyway, that is the type of business you are now competing against. Of course, many other sellers are still making money there, but it is definitely not as easy as it used to be. There were certainly no Babz type sellers in those early days I mentioned earlier – thankfully.

Other Ways To Make Money Online on The Internet.

I am not just talking about eBay here, but the internet in general has changed exponentially since those early days. Even selling on Amazon was not that popular initially – until eBay started to mess their sellers about, with higher fees, and Final Value Fees, etc. then sellers started to experiment elsewhere. I remember when eBay used to allow home page listings, that placed your products in front of millions of people for around a £99 fee – an advert right on eBay’s home page. That didn’t last long, and that, together with a few other changes meant sellers started to look elsewhere – with Amazon being an easy choice, but again, even with Amazon there is a different kind of fee structure.

There is no problem with fees, of course, because in reality if these gigantic websites are going to allow you to access their endless amounts of potential buyers, and if you really want to make money online, then there will always be a fee to be paid – advertising costs, and what has happened, is that as these websites have grown, their fees have followed suit, and in many cases such increases have priced the new sellers out of the market – established companies have gained a foothold on their respective markets. Such websites also seem to have forgot about the very people who helped them grow in the first place, which is a real shame, but no surprise. Progression hurts sometimes, but you still have to find a way forward. There is nothing worse than seeing your income stream squashed overnight – believe me, it has happened to yours truly on more than a few occasions – it is gut wrenching!

Make Money Online With Websites?

So yes, after many people have tried selling on eBay, or even whilst they were trying eBay out, many started a little website on the side to see if they could have the best of both worlds – an online eBay business, and an internet business (via a website) to attract even more customers. And 10 years ago this was definitely easier than it is right now; and one of the main reasons it was easier was Google!

Yup, during the early days it was also much easier to rank websites on Google, because they themselves were still growing their algorithms (software that decides how different websites are ranked on their search engines), so early web-masters took advantage of these ‘easy pickings’ and could rank far higher on Google than they can today. It was surprisingly easy to do years ago, and yet again it was down to great timing for those who were ‘in’ at that period in time;but that has all changed now, as Google also seem to have turned a blind eye to the people that helped them to grow, and are now in favour of larger, established businesses.

For example, if you type ‘online business’ into Google today you will usually see many large authority websites such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, other banks, Government websites, and the likes dominating the first page. Whereas 10 years ago even smaller, home business websites could easily rank on the first/second pages of Google for such large keywords, and this in turn meant that more, and more websites started to try their luck. Think about it, if you are on the first page of a search engine (that something like 97% of the world uses when searching for what they want to purchase) then you are presenting your ‘wares’ in front of thousands of potential buyers per day.

The early days of getting your website on the first page of Google’s website was breathtakingly easy – if you knew how! And with large amounts of traffic comes conversion to sales, and buyer enquiries, the bread and butter of all online businesses.

The problem though, is that Google do not make revenue (for their shareholders) from natural searches. Google makes money from advertising, pure and simple, so if the searches could be filled with multi-national, Blue Chip companies, instead of smaller home business websites, then the only other way these small business websites could gain traffic is to buy it, and Google quickly realised this, and thus advertising revenue for Google Adwords rocketed, and left the smaller websites with huge advertising costs – as they were competing with all the other, similar sized websites bidding for keywords in order to rank their advert on Google’s first page.

Google Adwords became dog eat dog, and is even more so today – a very costly affair indeed.

Alternatives?…

Once people have ruled out (by process if elimination due to larger sellers squeezing the market) the obvious choices to make money online, they quickly begin to fall into the hands of certain online marketers; you know the ones, where every email, and every website they create is going to make you a gazillion spondoolies overnight – AKA The internet sharks.

You know the scenario, you type searching certain keywords into Google for ways to ‘make money online’, and you start to filter those results that interest you, and start giving your email address for ‘further details’ in the hope of receiving value, and useful information to help you get a foothold, and a leg up on what is working for other people.

Make Money Online Emails into Your Inbox DailyGoogle search for online business

Once this starts, you quickly become swamped with the amount of emails your nice, neat and trusted email now receives on what seems an endless basis, or until you unsubscribe. This creates what I call a ‘dirty inbox’. I say this as we all started out with that one email address – mine was, and still is AOL, that you started to enter into the opt in boxes, and before you knew it, you had marketing emails coming out of your ears 🙂  I am smiling, because we have all done it, and people starting out on the internet today will go through the same process of elimination; they will start searching for ways to make money online, and fall for the same tricks, the same emails, and the same BS (let’s be honest).

The emails usually contain the following offers:

  • Affiliate Marketing.
  • Joint Ventures.
  • Local Business Marketing.
  • Loopholes.
  • Writing Reviews.
  • Click Bank Marketing.
  • Starting a website Business.
  • Dropshipping.
  • Etc., Etc.

If truth be told, all of the above are viable options when looking to make money from the internet. That isn’t the issue, the REAL problem is who is promoting these offers. The problem these days is that marketers are just following a course of action that they have usually read about somewhere else; usually on another ‘How to Make Money Online Website/Course/email’ and so they think it clever to start the process all over again, and promote to other new ‘victims’ looking for similar information – and before you know it, every man and their dancing dogs are promoting ways to make money online, and the REAL PROBLEM with this, is that they have not got a fecking clue how to do it themselves (Excuse my language, but this is the real truth) – it becomes the blind leading the blind.

This was actually one of the main reasons I started this website. I just got tired of reading the same rubbish day in, day out, and people are making fortunes without providing any value whatsoever, but I seriously suspect that will change over the next 5-10 years, and the reason for this thinking is simple. Unless those who have a mailing list, and opt in list, or subscriber list have provided real value, then as the search engines continue to get filled up with authority websites, these marketers will just have nobody to market to, and at this stage the internet will most definitely be on it’s guard, and marketers and their reputations will be met with very distrusting glances.

When you think about it though, and I mean really think about it, there has never been a better time in history when it has been so easy to start a business – the internet has opened doors to opportunities that never would have existed otherwise. 20 years ago if you wanted to start a business you had the usual options, a market stall, hair salon, some type of retail shop, car mechanic,  career business (dentist, solicitor, etc) or any of the other businesses you still see on the high street. But now, anybody with a computer and a mouse can start a business and make money online.

Do I Still Believe Anybody Can Succeed and Make Money Online?

Absolutely, and I really mean that. I don’t mind admitting that I have made a few quid online, and I also have offline businesses that far exceed my online income, but I know with certainty, that if you can fine-tune your efforts, and look to start an income on the internet, then it is very possible.

Here would be my advice:

  • Empty your inbox, and un-subscribe to all those marketing emails – except mine haha 🙂
  • Really start to look around the internet and see which websites are succeeding – really look.
  • List your skills, and experience if you have any, and question if they can be utilised online in any way. You may be surprised. If you can make peoples lives easier, then there usually is a market for such experience.
  • If you have an interest, or a hobby that people could benefit from, then again, this could be a way to make money online by offering such expertise.

Sure, there are other ways to make money online, of course, like Betfair Trading, Forex, and affiliate marketing does actually work – BUT, and a BIG but, you really do have to educate yourself, and test everything possible. If you do decide to start a business online, then treat it like a business, and make sure your mind-set really is set up for success.

reasons or excuses to make moneyToo many people these days (and marketers have created this problem to an extent) treat opportunities as ‘throw-away’, and by that I mean if they try something half-heartedly and it does not work, then it “does not matter” because the next email in your inbox will try and sell you something new for you to try. You really have to get OUT of that mindset, and decide you are going to really put some serious effort into making something work, and what works for you does not always have to be technical, or complicated; sometimes the best ways to make a living, or to start a business comes from some of the most simplistic ideas possible.

Most success in life, in my opinion, comes down to mind-set, how your mind is wired, usually from experience, and sometimes you have to re-wire your mind to set yourself up to succeed.

A Final Thought on This Make Money Online Lark:

Have you ever wondered (and I have studied this a lot over the years), why certain people succeed and others do not. It will never be down to luck (maybe a minuscule percentage could be), no, my real feeling on this, is that you receive what you expect from life. I honestly believe that.

Have you ever decided you want to purchase something, say a car, a blue car of a certain make for example. Once you have decided on something, you just seem to see it everywhere, and this is because you have trained your mind to look out for something you have DECIDED you want, and your subconscious mind actively (whether you know  this or not) seeks out what it is you have decided to attain. I don’t think succeeding on a financial level is any different, I really don’t – But, you have to REALLY want what it is you have decided to go for, and if you don’t want it enough, then all the will in the world will not work for you; in fact it will work against you, and the reason for that is because you will not have enough reasons to succeed.

Think about it, seriously, if you don’t have enough reasons to start something, to want something, then are you really going to give it your all? every last drop of your attention? live it, breath it? of course you won’t – because you don’t have enough reasons.

Don’t become one of those people that you hear down the pub, who is always ‘going to do something…..one day’, if you really do have aspirations to get on and start a real, sustainable business, then you have to take action. There comes a time in your life when you have to stop messing around, stop paying lip service, and just do it (as Nike would say, and what a catchphrase that is!). There are no rehearsals here, and as cringey as it sounds, the clock really is ticking, and with the internet, I personally feel the opportunities are endless IF you can get yourself into the right mindset; have enough reasons, and together with a work ethic, it is all there for you.

Also, the products and services that I have reviewed and tested on this website are done so in the vein that if they can work for me, then they can work for anyone, so I seriously advice you to look at what is recommended on here, because once you do start to make some money online, the confidence this gives you cannot really be measured, and this alone will stand you in good stead as far as progression is concerned.

I think it really is that simple.. the rest, once you have found enough reasons, is deciding on something, or somewhere worthy of all the massive effort you are now going to give in attaining it  🙂

 

Incoming search terms:

  • babz

7 Comments

  • Brian Thorpe says:

    Excellent post Ben. My sister in law sold on eBay in those years you talk about and when the changes came she lost everything after she borrowed on her house to build her business up. She was turning over about 30 grand a month and this reduced by 80% when they messed everything up, so all the staff she had were laid off and everything. A very upsetting time for the family as a lot of us worked for her at the time. She lost her house in the end.

    She has still not recovered and she hates eBay now unsurprisingly.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Brian,

      I am sorry to hear that about your sister. It happened to a lot of people a few years back. I remember eBay’s forums being very angry at the time.

      One thing it taught many people, was not to put all your eggs in one basket, especially one as fickle as a new business, which eBay was at the time.

      One of the problems now is the feedback system, and how crazy it is for buyers to be able to leave negative feedback, and sellers only being able to leave positive, that is simply madness in my opinion, and then you have seller rating system, which if you drop below a certain quality score, your whole account is assessed and even closed without warning.

      Yes, it is certainly not as easy as it used to be, but not impossible, as I know a couple of people still doing well on there, uniqueness is the key, and not going up against what the big guys are doing.

      Ben

  • SA says:

    Insightful, thanks.

  • massie says:

    Hi every one, I have got to agree with the part about ebay I used to sell on there a few years back and it is just not worth it anymore, competition has cut everybody down to the bone, just no profit anymore which is a shame because it was a decent way for an earner once. The email problem is also right e amount of crap I get in my email account now is ridiculous and in the end I had to start a new account which was annoying as I had that account for years for ebay Amazon all my home stuff and the likes but got bogged down with spam and I make the huge mistake of not using another email just for general subscription. A lesson learned for sure.

  • Terrence says:

    Hi Ben

    I recently purchased the Easy Auction Business online created by Andrew Minalto which was recommended by your website. Im a little confused as from your comment above it seems as if you believe that its near on impossible to make money on Ebay anymore. If as your article suggests I really commit & take action by setting up an Ebay business say for the next two years will I just be wasting my time? Just a little worn out from trying things online that don’t work, thanks mate 🙂

    • Ben says:

      Hi Terence,

      Yes, I recommended Andrew’s product as an eBay reference product, but as I mentioned above, eBay is NOT easy to make money on any more UNLESS what you are doing is unique, so any information that is valid in the process of making a unique eBay business is still worth reading and digesting to give you an angle. Most sellers on eBay are not unique is any aspect, and this is their downfall.

      Without doing this you would be easy prey to the big sellers who have the market sewn up, so yes, it is still possible, but a unique angle is now needed.

      Just out of interest though, I mentioned Babz in the review on this page, and Babz has now closed due to issues with the Royal Mail (from research) and are no longer doing business, so that is a big bonus to general sellers, especially with the run down to Xmas, as Babz was undercutting everybody, and in light of recent events, it ‘may’, have been down to not being charged enough postage by the Royal Mail; although full details of the Babz case has not come to light yet.

      But yes, to your original question, uniqueness is key on eBay now.

      Ben

      • Terrence says:

        Thanks Ben, really appreciate what you are doing here, you’ve already saved me a whole lot of time! Where would you recommend I place my focus with the greatest probability for success online?

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