The other day on a discussion board, someone posted a hypothetical situation about a guy named Bill who had bought every $2,000 Internet Marketing infoproduct on the market, impoverished himself, yet didn’t make any money online. Now he finds himself in a desperate situation where he needs to make $200/week, or his stuff starts getting repossessed.
Maybe it sounds a bit far-fetched, but I don’t think so. A lot of people drink the online Kool-Aid that a lot of Internet marketing “gurus” are pouring. Then, they can’t figure out why even after spending so much money, they have nothing to show for it.
So the question posed on the board was, “what should Bill do?” He’s desperate and needs money now, or he’ll be living out of a cardboard box. Are there real, ethical ways to make money online quickly, even when you have no money?
It’s a good question, and since I don’t think this situation is unusual, I thought I’d share my answer here too.
What Skills and Assets Can You Leverage?
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so there is no one-size fits all answer to the “I’m desperate and need money now” problem. First, you need to ask a few questions:
1. What does Bill know HOW to do that he can sell as a service? Does he know how to set up Web sites? Is he a writer? What off-line skills does he have?
2. Where does Bill live? Is he in a major metropolitan area with a lot of networking groups? Can he start speaking about his services? How many contacts does he have locally? Who does he know?
3. What assets does Bill have that he can leverage? Does he already own specialized software like Dreamweaver or video software? Does he have a lawnmower? How about a telephone and phone book? Does he already have a Web site with traffic that he could put ads on? Does he own a laser printer that he can use to print flyers or brochures?
Many online marketers tout their one “turn-key” solution as THE answer to making money online. Lately, Webinars have been in vogue, for example. But if you’re like Bill and your marketing budget is zero, you can’t run out and spend $200/month for GotoWebinar. However, you can go speak at the local networking meeting for $0.
If I were in Bill’s situation, I would go to the library (which is free) and head for the business section. Look for books with titles like 101 Ways to Make Money and Zero-Budget Marketing. (I’m making up those titles, but books like that exist.)
Even if you have limited skills, you can offer some service that other people don’t want to do or don’t know how to do and then market it online.
Virtually every service exists because there’s someone out there who doesn’t want to do the task. Non-techie people hire Web designers. The artistically challenged hire graphic artists to design their brochures. Couch potatoes hire people to walk their dogs and mow their lawns. And math-phobes hire bookkeepers.
You can find people desperately seeking online services on sites like Guru.com, CraigsList, and eLance. Sure the pay often stinks, but some money is better than no money. (Keeping you out of the cardboard box is the goal here.)
Although I’m a big fan of content marketing and selling products, if you are like Bill and need money now, you can put up flyers for your new service, do a small super-targeted mailing, or call local businesses for almost no money. People really do tear off those little tabs on flyers. And even though direct mail may sound “old-fashioned,” it still works. So does cold calling. Yes, it’s unpleasant and a bunch of people will say no, but you can start getting work quickly by simply picking up the phone.
While you and Bill are avoiding bankruptcy, you also could be working through those expensive information products. The reality is that many people buy information products and then never do anything with them. It’s not the fault of the product, if you don’t take action.
Taking action of any kind is really the key to avoiding the cardboard box. Almost any action is better than no action. If the choices are being homeless vs. mowing lawns, I choose mowing lawns.