Are you racing against the clock to make money online before the digital gold rush ends?
It’s true. The internet isn’t what it used to be. The first page of Google is getting tougher to rank for. Paid ads are more expensive. The competition grows tougher every day. Do you still have a fighting chance of earning money online in 2017 and 2018?
Even experienced online marketers are mixing it up, trying new strategies, and diversifying their efforts.
But don’t give up just yet. There are exciting things happening online today and even if you’re brand new, you absolutely can make money online in 2017, 2018… and beyond.
But first, let’s dive a little deeper into that money-making question because it’s true, success online is not what it used to be.
We can’t ignore new challenges, but there are also some really exciting opportunities and we will get those as well.
Of course, me just telling you that you can make money online, doesn’t make it true. Right?
So let’s answer that again. This time with another question.
Do you think that ‘someone’ is going to make money online in 2017?
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Yes, of course!
How about someone with no experience?
Will someone who’s never made a cent online, who has zero knowledge and few resources (if any at all), find a way to make money online in 2017?
Again, I’m going to say ‘yes’. Absolutely. (and if I find them I’ll ask how they did it.) 😀
According to hostingfacts.com, as of December ’15, there were 3.26 billion internet users. Nearly 3 and half BILLION people online, and that number is growing every day. Unless the entire internet goes down for good, I think it’s a certainty that someone new will make money online.
Is It More Difficult To Make Money Online Today?
Yes, in some respects it is. But it’s not all bad news. In other ways, it’s a lot easier.
Let’s talk about the negatives first.
One of the first hurdles to making money online is getting noticed. Whether you’re a freelancer, an affiliate marketer or selling your own product. You need an audience.
And that’s where things are getting more difficult (at least, to stand out in the crowd).
It’s estimated that over 90% of online experiences start with a search. That can be a problem.
Your biggest source of targeted traffic (the kind we want) are people searching for what you have to offer. Unfortunately, 91.5% of individuals searching the web, never go beyond the first page of those results.
That means, if you want to get visitors to your site, you’d better be on the first page. It’s still possible, even in 2017. But it’s not quite as simple as it used to be.
Without going into all the reasons why ranking on page one is more difficult today, there are a few fundamental changes worth mentioning.
What that means is, each person’s search results are specifically tailored to their personal interests. The results you get will be different than what someone else gets, even though your question may be the same. For those of us aiming at first page rankings, it’s like shooting a moving target.
Frequent Algorithm Changes.
Since Google accounts for the vast majority of online searches, we’ll focus on them. No one knows exactly what Google is looking for (other than Google) when it decides to place your website on page 1, or page 101. It’s the “Colonel’s secret recipe”. Everything currently known (which is quite a bit) is a result of observation and experimentation.
Unlike Colonel Sanders, however, the recipe doesn’t stay the same. On average, Google changes its search algorithm 500-600 times a year. Not all of those changes have a significant impact, but some do, and if you’re aiming for the first page using “tricks”, your days are numbered. Page one today requires rock solid content, domain authority, and a fast loading website among a couple hundred other ranking signals no one knows for certain.
Changes to the front page of Google.
Entire blog posts are written about this topic, so I’ll keep it short. Changes in the way items are displayed on page 1 of Google have a big impact on whether or not you get noticed. For example, Google has traditionally been a middleman, a broker so to speak between the content providers and the readers. However, a new feature you’ve almost certainly experienced is the Google “answer box” which gives you what you’re looking for right on the results page.
Instead of taking a back seat to their own search results, Google is now extracting that information from someone’s website (in this example realsimple.com) and provides the answer so you never have to visit the site. Perfect for the searcher (which is Google’s primary customer so this is understandable), but not good for you or I.
You’d think that realsimple.com would be excited to land right on top of page one. But, if no one visits their site (because Google provided the answer they were looking for), being on page one doesn’t do them much good.
Everyone else on page one will be overlooked as well.
Google has made other changes that are making it harder to get noticed (or at least get clicks), but that’s a topic for another post.
The point is, this method of attracting potential customers (while still an excellent method) isn’t as easy as it once was. If your goal is to make money online, organic search might not be enough. You may need to expand into other channels, one of those being paid ads.
Here again, things are changing quickly.
Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia makes a very good point.
Billions of dollars are currently spent on traditional advertising, particularly on TV commercials.
But when was the last time you watched a commercial? When was the last time you watched LIVE TV?
We watch very little LIVE television in my house. But even when we do, you can guess what happens when the commercials come on.
That’s right. We reach for our cell phones.
More and more people, when they watch TV (myself included), it’s Netflix, pay-per-view or pre-recorded shows and we can fast forward through the commercials.
Who’s got time to watch Ads?
The big spenders know that our attention is online, and in the next few years it’s expected those billions (currently spent on TV) will be re-directed at us, on the internet. Experts predict this trend will drive the cost of online advertising up significantly.
That’s not okay for the “little guy” trying to make a big splash.
Everyone wants to make money online. Therefore, you can expect competition.
This challenge interests me the most.
It intrigues because it’s a societal shift. It’s changing how we do so many things, and it’s interesting to see the transformations in the way we live, communicate and of course, earn a living.
And, as our economy grows more unstable, learning how to earn that living online might become an essential skill.
More and more people are looking to the web, and I think it’s amazing. There are so many great benefits to an online career or business, which include,
- Working your own hours, from wherever you want in the world. And quite often, being able to pursue your passions in the process.
- With an economy more unpredictable than ever, making money online is a great way to diversify and protect your financial future.
- In the process of developing an internet career or business, people are building real online assets and distribution channels.
- The skills and knowledge acquired are extremely valuable, and they empower individuals to explore opportunities such as local marketing which leads to greater independence.
So I think it’s great that more and more people are turning to the web and becoming entrepreneurs.
However, the fact remains, it means greater competition.
New entrepreneurs with less time and fewer resources than those more established need to be a more creative. They may have to work harder and climb a steeper learning curve to market themselves effectively.
Likewise, seasoned entrepreneurs need to remain sharp and stay on top of their game as young, ambitious and innovative new players come after them.
The great news here is that there is lots of camaraderie and mentorship online. Those who are successful today had to go through all the same challenges and doubts that new people do, and most are supportive of those coming up.
Yes, You Can Make Money Online In 2017, 2018 and Beyond…
Let’s talk about the good news.
It’s true, those who started when the web was young (in the late 90’s or early 2000’s) had a wide open field to play in. The competition was non-existent in some niches, search engines were easy to figure out, and it was simpler to get noticed. (that doesn’t mean it was easier to make money online back then, it wasn’t)
However, today the technical barriers are almost non-existent.
Years ago you’d either have to pay a developer to build you a website or spend months learning how to make one yourself.
Today, you can have your own website up and running for free in minutes. That’s a luxury unheard of five or ten years ago.
Online Tools Are Cheap
Today, for the cost of a dinner, you can also have ready-made and proven landing pages just a few clicks away. Automated email responders that cost half of what a gym membership costs. Plugins and freelancers that will take care of just about anything you need.
There is inexpensive training available. A few of my top recommended programs even offer free memberships and access to large communities of people willing to help out when you have questions.
With very little technical knowledge, you can have an online business up and running in no time.
That doesn’t mean there’s no learning curve.
As those technical barriers come down, marketing yourself (or your product) has become more involved. Or, at the very least it’s busier, with more channels (social, video, podcasting, search engines, etc.) and more things to consider.
People online are also more aware today, and more selective as to who they trust.
But the reality is, to start an online business today the actual “nuts and bolts” are barely a few clicks away, and that’s a tremendous advantage that new entrepreneurs have.
There Are Billions Of People Online.
(That’s “Billions”… with a ‘B’)
Making money online is arguably easier today for another reason. The size of your potential audience is staggering.
As mentioned earlier, the number of people online today is approaching 3.5 billion people. But what does that really mean?
It’s a number so large, it’s difficult to for most of us (myself included) to imagine. If you doubt whether or not you can make money online, this could be the reason.
It’s everyone’s fear. “Who is going to buy something from me?” or “Who cares what I have to say?”
Potentially, billions of people, that’s who.
Even if you have no idea how to get online, no product to sell or promote, and don’t even know how the online income process works… in a very short amount of time, you can be tapping into a global audience of billions.
That’s crazy when you think about it!
Let’s put it into perspective.
Local Market Potential
If you were to open up a local business and sell widgets, what would your potential market for customers be?
Even if you live in a major city, at most, it would be in the hundreds of thousands. And that would be in a high traffic area.
Most local businesses still serve small communities within the major cities, so even if there are several million people where you live, chances are, your business would still be limited to local traffic. Also, the relatively small number of people willing to travel out of their way.
This might be different if you own a large company, with franchises or multiple corporate locations. Or, if you have a significant customer base, and ship to a large geographic area.
But, unless you already own a business like that, the amount of time and resources it would take to establish one is beyond the reach of most people.
Online Market Potential
This is where it gets difficult to comprehend.
3.5 billion people!
Of course, not all of those are potential customers.
But for the sake of comparing local market potential, vs. online market potential, let’s make it easy and round off our numbers.
If owning a local business gives you access to 100,000 people (just as an example), an online business will plug you into a billion (1,000,000,000).
Those are people who do NOT have to travel across town to see you. You’re in their homes, and on there on their phones.
What is the difference between 100,000 and 1,000,000,000? It’s more than just 4 zeros.
Let’s use a measure of time for perspective.
If you had a local business and served 100,000 customers at a rate of 1 every minute, it would take you 2.3 months before you ran out of customers. 69.44 days to be exact.
How about a billion customers at 1 every minute? If you had to guess, what would you say?
This is absolutely nuts!
Check this out…
If you had a business that served 1 billion customers at a rate of 1 every minute, it would be the year 3918 before you ran out of customers.
1 Billion minutes is equal to 694,444.44 days. That’s 1901.32 YEARS!
We throw the word “billion” around like it’s an ordinary everyday number. But for most of us, we really don’t know it’s significance.
Let’s use another comparison, one that we’re a little more familiar with.
If you had $100,000 and spent $1.00 every second (NOT minute), you would run out of money by tomorrow or the next day (depending on when you started spending it). At one buck a second, you’d have 1.157 days before your pockets were empty.
Now, if you had a Billion Dollars and spent $1.00 per second (60 bucks every minute of every day), it would take you 31.688 years to run out of money (vs. 1.157 days).
That’s the difference between 1 hundred thousand and 1 billion.
That’s the power of the internet.
It’s the difference between having a local audience of 100,000, or a global one of 1,000,000,000.
Estimates vary, but even conservative predictions are betting on another billion web users by the year 2020. Tech empires like Google and Facebook are working to make that happen.
So yes, the opportunities will only get bigger.
The competition will also continue to grow, but that won’t necessarily make things more difficult.
Your niche for example. You may have greater potential for new traffic than you do competitors entering your niche.
In other industries, the opposite may be true.
Another important factor is the growing trend for people to buy products online. According to a Fortune article, in 2016, 51% of people’s purchases were made online.
This trend is not slowing down, with the greatest potential for growth expected in developing countries. It’s hard to say what that means for local commerce, but it wasn’t that long ago titans such as Blockbuster, and Circuit City were permanent fixtures.
Or at least we thought they were.
The dollars are still spent, only now they’re going to places like Netflix and Amazon (did you know you can promote Amazon products and get paid a commission?)
Whether it’s online retail or advances in technology that threaten traditional business, more of those dollars will move online.
Does It Feel Like Opportunities Are Drying Up?
“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
– Charles Holland Duell (Commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office)
Okay, this famous quote was debunked. Charles Holland Duell never actually said that. But it does speak to the skeptic in all of us.
It often feels like the best opportunities are behind us.
When we look back over the last century, it’s hard to imagine coming up with the next home computer, the next iPhone or next Facebook. The era of those inventions is gone.
But that doesn’t mean there are no more opportunities to be had, no more innovative breakthroughs ahead of us.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
At the beginning of the last century, there were hundreds of automobile manufacturers. By the end of the 1920’s that number was down to three. The big three… General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.
Hundreds of manufacturers had missed the boat. The golden opportunity of building cars had dried up.
If you were an automobile manufacturer during the first years of the 1900’s, you might of packed up your hopes and dreams, and walked off into the sunset.
The opportunity was gone forever. At least for generations to come.
But that didn’t mean there was nothing new to look forward to. Just the opposite.
The abundance of automobiles produced by Ford, GM and Chrysler eventually opened up new industries no one had even thought of. Drive-in movie theaters, auto insurance, racing and custom shops. The market to fix and maintain vehicles exploded.
And then the boom within local economies where cars were being manufactured? The rise of the automobile created opportunities unimagined.
It transformed society. The impact of the automobile has been well documented.
So, while many gave up their dreams of manufacturing the next great automobile, closed up shop and resigned themselves to “what could have been”, other ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs were capitalizing on the new economy.
Now… I realize many of those changes were slow. It was decades between the failed manufactures and drive-in theaters. The point is, the future is unwritten and just because one door closes, doesn’t mean more haven’t been opened.
In today’s world, it doesn’t take decades. Opportunities are coming at us quick.
The Future Is Lined With Gold
The truth is, we don’t know what the ultimate potential of the internet is. There are innovations still unimagined.
To capitalize on them, it’s critical to be online in one way or another.
The web has certainly matured a great deal, but it’s still young. The online economy remains in the “Wild-West Era” of growth… and there’s a ton of gold yet to mine.
For example, as more entrepreneurs flock to the web and build online businesses, a market for freelancing has exploded.
And this is a unique chance for people all around the world to make a living. A person in a developing country can write articles for content marketers, make money as virtual assistants, manage a business’ and social media accounts etc.
It’s not talked about often, but the ability for those in lower income countries to access the global economy is going to transform the globe.
For example, it’s entirely possible for someone from a developing country to write an e-book, put it up on Amazon and sell hundreds, if not thousands of copies. Even at a dollar per book, that money would be life changing.
Not long ago, that would have been impossible.
As people from all over the world generate incomes (that were previously unavailable), they become consumers. Having an online presence will be the only way to do business with those emerging markets.
And I’m not talking about complicated import/export operations or international commerce.
It can be as simple as this…
A person in Asia, Africa or South America (anywhere really) becomes a successful freelancer and earns money as a content writer or virtual assistant.
What they’re really interested in, however, is someone to teach them how an online business is built and managed.
Now, let’s say you started your own online business, and in the process of learning, you documented everything. Could you turn that knowledge into an online course, maybe sell seats to a webinar or even charge for one-on-one coaching?
Could you turn that knowledge into an e-book, an online course, maybe sell seats to a webinar or even charge for one-on-one coaching?
Kimra Luna did just that, and her story is worth reading about.
People are currently capitalizing on these opportunities.
And when I say it’s “as simple as this”, what I mean is that it’s attainable by anyone willing to put in a little time and effort. It’s not something ONLY large businesses or seasoned technical experts can do.
There is a common concern that the “teaching online business industry” is becoming saturated, but just imagine the potential for new clients as the world becomes more connected.
While many sit on the sidelines, others who are hungry to succeed and build a life they love, will join the online marketplace and make money.
Competition That You and I Benefit From
The great thing about the internet, is that it levels the playing field. Not entirely of course, but things are a lot more competitive than there were before.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone from home creates something and completely changes the game. Mark Zuckerberg did it, and he won’t be the last.
I can think of dozens of online entrepreneurs who started from home and have had insane impacts on the world. I won’t start naming them because it would be an entirely new article (or a book)… and this one is long enough already. 😀
But, As mentioned earlier, one of the challenges us indie entrepreneurs will face in the years ahead are the boatloads of corporate dollars soon to be pouring into the web. Everyone is chasing eyeballs, and the behemoths of industry don’t mess around.
Mega-Corporations just want to spend it.
This is where competition works in our favor. As giants such as Google and Facebook increase their ad prices to meet the demand of multi-nationals and media empires, it will drive smaller companies and individuals out of those marketing channels.
Google and Facebook (among others) will have a unique problem because it’s the “little guys” who bring variety, innovation, and creativity to their platforms.
By driving them away, it creates demand for entirely new channels to emerge. Channels created by the same innovative minds that will have moved on.
We can speculate on what those new platforms might look like, whether it’s a new social network that gains momentum or an “underground” economy of sorts where people share each other’s content.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and I’m quite confident that independent entrepreneurs aren’t going to pack up and quit because ads on Google are too expensive.
It’s not a completely level playing ground, but it’s a lot closer. The web is also not the corporate controlled media empires of old. At least not yet.
In summary, we discussed a few of the unique challenges online marketers face in 2017.
We also talked about some of the exciting things happening today and in the years ahead, and why you absolutely can make money online this year. A few of those are,
- Technical barriers are almost non-existent.
- An explosion in the number of people getting online.
- Online purchasing trends and new consumers from all over the world.
From where we sit, it’s easy to think the internet’s been here forever. While my kids have never known the world without it, I still remember sending sales reports by courier because my company didn’t have email.
This info-tech revolution, if you want to call it that, is just a baby learning to walk. It really is… even if it doesn’t feel that way.
Smartphones have only been around for 10 years (and many of us were still hanging onto flip-phones into this decade). Today, it’s difficult to imagine the world without them. We can barely use the washroom without having the entire world connected to our fingertips. 😀
Many of us have clothes that are older than Facebook, YouTube or Google.
Uber (a company enabled by online connectivity) is still wearing diapers and teething.
Half the world isn’t even online yet. The internet is just getting started.
Unless governments and large corporations start locking it down and putting up virtual walls and borders (or a dragon burns it to the ground… hey, it could happen) the opportunities to make money online are better than ever.
In the near future, new start-ups, and marketing channels will be discovered in the fields of virtual and augmented reality, 3D-printing and online medical diagnostics. If you’re an affiliate marketer, these industries could be a virtual goldmine.
The high-value domains are already disappearing. I know, I’ve tried to buy them. (things like 3Dblueprints.com for example)
In addition to those listed above, industries such as autonomous vehicles, automation, artificial intelligence, and alternative energies are going to change our economy in ways we won’t understand until the dust settles. Very few traditional jobs will go unaffected. Finding new ways to earn money will become an essential skill for many just to survive.
Whether you make money as a freelancer, start an online business, or use online marketing to promote a traditional business… those that develop the knowledge and skills to succeed on the web will have the edge.
And yes, you can make money online in 2017, 2018 and beyond.
Please leave a comment below; I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you thinking of starting an online business in 2017?
If you found this article useful, or think it might be helpful for others… Please share. 😀
I mentioned at the beginning of this post I’d provide you with some free resources so you can make money online.
The following article has information for those who are thinking of freelancing. It’s written for people seeking online data entry jobs, but many of the companies listed are also looking for other skills such as writing, graphic design, and video creation.
If an online business is more your thing, here is a list of my top recommended online business training programs. A few offer free training which is noted in the article.