A digital marketing agency helps its clients develop marketing strategies and build campaigns to deliver tangible business results. Since every business is different, they require a unique approach to internet marketing. Although most of the agencies claim to provide customized services, not all of them possess the expertise or have the bandwidth to walk the talk. However, there are a lot of digital marketing firms which create a real difference to their clients’ businesses through a sound strategy and its flawless execution.
As a business owner, how will you choose the right agency which is the best fit for your organization?
Here are some tips which can help you spot the right company:
Bigger is not always better
The safest way to choose an agency is to select the industry leaders. However, the majority of businesses can’t afford their budget. Moreover, their style of working may not be compatible for small and medium size businesses. Ideally, you need to find the agencies which can become an integral part of your internal team.
Thus, your focus should be the “right fit” and not the big name. Hire a firm which has a flexible approach and ready to adopt your style of working.
Know your requirements
Define your objectives of hiring an online marketing company. The objectives could be to increasing traffic, generating more leads, improving search engine visibility, social media branding, etc. You may even require all of these. However, you need to prioritize the goals and define your immediate as well as long-term requirements.
Also, define the outcomes which must be delivered by the agency to justify the investments. If you don’t know your requirements, then it is good to state this clearly to the agencies and ask them to come up with a plan based on whatever you have in your mind.
How to find agencies
Searching on Google is the most obvious way to find out companies. You can also find a plenty of digital marketing firms on freelance marketplaces such as UpWork, Freelancer, Guru, PPH, etc. Since most of these platforms offer a rating system, you can easily find out the work history and track record for the digital marketing firms. However, you must follow a due diligence process before hiring freelancers or agencies on these platforms as the ratings can be easily manipulated. Also, a lot of entities on these platforms are one-man shops who outsource the task to local freelancers. Thus, many times you may get an inferior quality work despite choosing a high-rated freelancer or an agency. Follow the tips mentioned in this article to scrutinize the firms before hiring and don’t go just by their rating on the platform.
Shortlist two to three firms
Always shortlist two to three companies before making a final decision. Compare their quotes, activities and expected outcomes. Don’t make price the only criterion to compare two agencies. Cheap marketing services are usually quite expensive for the clients.
Ask everything that you have in mind. You can even ask a few questions related to your industry to check the company’s understanding of your business. Some of the must ask questions are:
Who will work on our projects? – Remember that the quality of work will be as good as the quality of people working on the project.
Do you outsource the work? If yes, then which part of the task is outsourced? – Avoid agencies which outsource the entire job. In fact, such companies work as brokers and hardly understand the nuances of building effective marketing campaigns.
How will you communicate with our internal team?
What all do you need to get started?
How much time will you take to deliver results?
Follow the Process of elimination
Use the answers to the abovementioned questions to eliminate the agencies which don’t fulfill the basic criteria such as budget, experience, deadline, etc. Some of the red flags to spot the bad apples are extremely low price, promising big results, giving unusual guarantees, not answering your questions directly, etc.
Make an agreement or contract
Once you finalize an agency, make a contract. It is important to define the terms and conditions, and activities that need to be done as a part of the campaign for achieving the expected outcomes. A written contract helps both the parties to set expectations and avoid surprises during the project. It also works as a reference document if a confusion arises in the future.
Choosing a vendor is not a straight line process. It requires serious deliberations among the stakeholders. While hiring an agency, do remember that you will work with the people and not with machines or software. Thus, use one rule of thumb – don’t work with agencies whose initial conversations didn’t make you comfortable. In other words, choose an organization only if you are comfortable dealing with people who work on your project and not just with the salesman or the agency owner. The effectiveness of the campaign will entirely depend on the quality and experience of people who work on the project and not on the name or size of the agency.
At SixPL, we have got some of our prized customers through email marketing. Thus, it forms an integral part of our marketing strategy. In past few years, I have used several email marketing platforms and keep trying new ones to find out alternatives that deliver a better return on investment. Recently, I stumbled upon an email marketing platform, Sendpulse. After checking its reviews online, I used it for one of my blogs.
Here is my take on this email marketing platform:
It is Cost Effective
SendPulse is an affordable email marketing platform. You can send up to 15000 emails and store up to 2500 email contacts for free. If you have 10,000 subscribers, you can send unlimited emails to them at $53, which is cheaper than the similar email marketing platforms like Mailchimp, Sendgrid, etc. Many businesses send occasional emails and like to pay on per message basis. For sending 100,000 email messages, you need to pay $212. I think this is on a slightly higher side if you compare it with similar products from Elastic email.
However, you shouldn’t compare two email marketing products solely by prices. Deliverability, features, and ease of design also play a crucial role in choosing a right email marketing platform for your business.
Easy Template Design
I found drag and drop editor of Sendpulse quite intuitive. It doesn’t require a high learning curve even for a beginner to create attractive HTML email templates. You will also find plenty of beautiful pre-designed templates which can be used directly without much editing. If you are a beginner, the preloaded templates should be sufficient to get started with ease. You can also design great responsive email templates in minutes.
Subscription Form Builder
This is a great and most desired addition in the SendPulse email marketing platform. With the flexible subscription form builder, you will never need an HTML coder or any other software/plugin to develop attractive responsive signup forms. In addition to Name and Email, you can also add additional fields such as Mobile, gender, etc. to personalize your emails. It will help you experiment with the design and placement of subscription forms to increase your conversion rates.
Today, no email marketing platform will be useful if it doesn’t have the automation features. Sendpulse has all the automation features which are needed for sending personalized email and improving conversion rates. You can send different emails based on your customers’ demography. You can also use the Scheduler to send the emails automatically based on certain rules. Use the power of email A/B testing to eliminate guess work and find out what works best for your business. Easy-to-understand and advanced reporting will be helpful in getting an actionable insight about your campaign performance.
For agencies and marketers, SendPulse offers a 100% White label product. It means that you can also use the platform to send emails on behalf of your clients without mentioning the name of SendPulse.
I find the platform attractive for beginners as well as for advanced email marketers. Do a need assessment for your organization and evaluate whether the features in SendPulse email marketing platform can meet your immediate needs. Get in touch with me for any query or help in integrating the platform with your existing CRM.
This quote by Jim Rohn epitomizes the importance of contribution of healthy lifestyle in our success.
No matter what you do or what you become, your body will always be with you. Thus, if you want to achieve anything in life, you must take care of your health. You simply need to do following two things to develop a healthy lifestyle:
Develop a healthy eating habit
Maintain some Physical activity on a regular basis
It will not take a lot of your time. However, consistent efforts will deliver incredible results.
Scaling a business requires achieving the economy of scale while selling the products or services to a large number of customers. To achieve economy of scale, the per unit cost of output must go down as the production increases. The output of consulting firms is intangible services that vary with each project. Thus, they can’t produce standard services at a large scale. The service production and the delivery are limited by the availability of time and the skilled manpower.
Thus, the revenue of a consulting firm is a function of time, competencies and number of its employees.
Revenue of a consulting business -> f(Time) + f(Expertise)
To scale the operation and grow revenue, a service company must follow these three rules:
Rule No. 1 – Provide one Niche Service
Master a skill set and provide one service that is significantly better than the competition. It serves three purposes:
Firstly, for exceptional services, most of the clients pay a premium price. With time, the average ticket size and the margin go up which results into increase in revenue and profits.
Secondly, big brands like to work with the best in the industry. If your services are better than that of the competition, you may get an opportunity to work with the big brands. An addition of one big brand in the portfolio can increase the revenue manifold.
Finally, managing the business growth becomes simple with one service. Hiring even one or two experts in the field can provide enough bandwidth to service many more clients. Whereas with multiple services, you need to hire many professionals to service just one customer.
Rule No 2 – Track Time Spent on each activity
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” – Peter Drucker
The revenue of consulting firms is directly linked to the number of Manhours they put to deliver a project.
Tracking time helps in pricing the services, deciding the compensation of team members, making the right commitment to the clients, and preparing a roadmap for the future of the company.
Moreover, for a five members team, even 1% improvement in productivity per person per day is a huge gain without any pain at the end of the month.
Thus, tracking time and improving efficiency goes a long way in scaling the business operations of consulting firms and increasing their top and bottom lines.
Rule No 3 – Develop three Processes – Service Delivery, Client Acquisition, and Talent Development
Processes are the bedrock of growth of any service business. Irrespective of the number of team members, an ambitious firm must develop processes and adhere to them to conduct business activities. Over time, the processes can be innovated and improved to accommodate emerging scenarios and circumstances.
Develop following three set of processes:
Operational Processes to deliver exceptional services
Business Development and Marketing Processes to acquire bigger and better customers
Talent Development Processes to hire, train, manage and retain employees and partners
Once developed, all team members must adhere to the processes irrespective of the size of projects or urgency of deadlines.
Explore the options to automate or outsource a part of the processes and increase your focus on core competency and business growth. It makes business growth a simple and pleasant experience.
Businesses which sell products take advantage of all three rules by default for scaling their operations. The service providers, on the other hand, lose focus by adding multiple services in their offerings and then struggle to maintain and improve the quality of the services. They can accelerate their revenue growth by concentrating on their core competencies and innovating in the way they deliver services.
Anything that can be done online can be done on Fiverr.com. Professional business services such as logo design, content writing, translation services, videos editing and development, image editing, business plan development, online research, website development and testing, etc. are some of the most common things available on Fiverr.
And most of the services start at just $5.
I have purchased following items from Fiverr at just $5 each. I can’t get a better product from anywhere else at $5.
I have bought several other items at Fiverr and quite happy with overall service delivery.
Not all buyers are happy with the services. Many feel that it is a waste of time and money to buy things on Fiverr.
Some also argue that Fiverr services are like this:
It is true that “You get what you pay for.”
However, at the same cost, you can get a better quality of output than others, if you do things differently.
Fiverr is an excellent marketplace for creative and professional services. You can take maximum advantage of it if you know how to get things done especially through outsourcing.
Before, you go ahead and buy something on Fiverr, set your expectations right:
The quality of output depends on the clarity of your instructions and the seller you choose
What you get for $5 is worth more than the cost, provided you don’t compare it with a similar service from a renowned brand worth hundreds or thousands of dollars
If you know what you want, then you will get exactly that. If you don’t know what you want and expect the sellers at Fiverr to advise you, then you will never get what you need
If you don’t want to risk $5 to save $200, then you shouldn’t use the website
The truth is, smart business people and marketers save thousands of dollars by buying services on Fiverr. In fact, many professionals buy the same service from Fiverr at $5 and sell it to their clients at $100 or more.
Write down the instructions clearly. Leave no space for any doubt. Use references wherever applicable.
Don’t use words or phrases such as “I want best quality content” or “something that convinces users to take action.” These are subjective expressions which have no relevance for sellers. What is best for them may not be good for you and vice versa.
Before selecting a seller, read their requirements clearly. Do provide what all information they need to deliver your services.
Communicate with them clearly and provide accurate feedback in a professional manner if the output is significantly different from your expectations.
How to buy on Fiverr – Step by Step guide to buying on Fiverr
Search required services using Search box on the top or using top navigation menu
Open top five or ten sellers’ profile in the new tabs
Pay attention to reviews, comments, ratings, and service package description of each seller. Evaluate sellers on these parameters.
Shortlist the sellers who meet your requirement closely. Don’t get confused. Select the one who seems to be flexible and trustworthy. In case of any doubts, send a message to the shortlisted sellers and clarify your doubts. Select the final seller or freelancer whom you will hire – Before finalizing a vendor, you should send the project details to them and get their final quote to avoid any confusion during the delivery of services.
Proceed to Order if satisfied with their answers
Send the project details through message including all relevant attachments.
Within few hours of placing the order, you should receive a message from the seller. Communicate with them until your work gets delivered
Once the work is performed to your satisfaction, close the project and leave a rating for the seller. Do remember that if you are not satisfied with the services, then you may request a refund. Once your refund is processed, you will have the option to buy the services from other vendors. Thus, your money is safe.
Don’t buy SEO backlinks, website traffic or anything that seems fishy or impossible to achieve in real life. Buying such services can hamper your site’s reputation. In the past, many webmasters have complained that after buying traffic from Fiverr, their sites got penalized by Google. So beware of such services that offer some guaranteed results especially in the online marketing space.
A lot of sellers used to sell fake reviews like Amazon or Yelp Reviews on Fiverr. Recently Amazon has filed a lawsuit against hundreds of such vendors. Following are some of the fake items sold on Fiverr at fractions of the original cost:
Mobile App Installs (Android and iOS)
Facebook Page Likes and Twitter Followers
Software Keys (software that is available on the market at $150 per annum can be found at $5 on Fiverr).
While these items are fake, many times it works well for buyers to purchase them as they need cheap stuff irrespective of quality. For example, if a politician needs millions of Twitter followers, they can buy the same at Fiverr. To them or their supporters and media, quantity is more important than quality. Similarly, customers buy mobile app installs and reviews to boost their temporary online reputation.
Many a time, people also buy the null version of software on Fiverr at far cheaper rates than the cost of the original software. However, Fiverr can’t be blamed for such activities as it is a marketplace that facilitates buyers and sellers to do meaningful transactions. What you buy or sell may be your choice. However, over time the platform has taken a serious note of such vendors and trying to debar them from selling unlawful services.
Fiverr is a fantastic platform for buying professional services. I strongly recommend it to entrepreneurs and small businesses, who need to save every penny they can to run their activities smoothly at initial stages of their business formation. Until you need very high-quality services, you can trust Fiverr to get the basic work done at affordable price.
Starting a business requires investment. The level of investment depends on several factors such as the type of business, location, quality of the workforce, and the kind of machines and equipment you want to purchase. Before starting a business, you should also do a cost-benefit analysis.
Before going into the details of low investment business ideas, let us understand the kind of investments you need to do to start a business:
Most of the costs associated with starting a business can be divided into three parts:
One time Fixed Costs (Initial investment) –
This is usually a one-time cost. It involves the cost associated with following items:
Computers or mobiles
Office/Shop Furniture, Interior Designing
Equipment such as refrigerators, ACs, or machineries to manufacture (or prepare) goods or provide services
Power backups (if you plan to use your inverter or GenSets)
Website Development or Technology Development Cost
Other Items that are required for day to day business operations like kitchen utensils, etc.
Brokerage paid for renting an office/shop
Other fixed costs
Recurring Costs – These costs are incurred on a regular basis. There are two types of recurring expenses – Fixed Monthly or Annual costs.
These are further divided into:
Office Space or Shop Rent
The Internet and Other Utility bills
Website domain and hosting costs (Annual)
Technology Support and maintenance costs
Variable recurring costs
The expenses associated with the cost of goods sold (Any cost that is incurred to sell your product or service). Broadly, it includes following:
Cost of Raw Material (if you sell products)
Contractors (If you sell services and outsource a part of the services you deliver)
Other Major Costs
Business Administrative Expenses
Stationary and Other Supplies
Sales and Marketing
Every new business requires almost a year or two to generate profits. Thus, while calculating investments, you must calculate the cost involved in doing business for at least one year. If your business is not generating enough cash for a year or two, you would not be able to meet your personal as well as business expenses. Therefore, to run the business smoothly, you need to minimize recurring costs, until your firm becomes profitable. Even if your fixed one-time costs are high, you can sustain the business for a long duration, if the recurring costs are low. I have seen many new businesses with high potential shutting down within a year of their establishment. This happens mainly due to unmanageable recurring costs like high rentals or staff salaries.
The chances of success of a new business become much greater when the recurring costs reduce.
With this, here is a list of some low investment business ideas that you can consider for your new venture:
If you have expertise in a field, you can provide services in that field and charge for the same. Some of the most demanded services include Report Preparation, Internet Research, Content Writing, Taxation and Accounting, Digital Marketing, Business Consulting, Training, Job Placement, Website Designing, Programming, Graphic and Multimedia, Public Relations, Market Research, and other services.
Initially, you can operate independently from your residence. Once you have a client base, you can hire professionals and move to a professional office to expand your business.
If you are starting on your own, then there is no investment apart from a computer, mobile phone, and internet expenses.
However, if you want to hire people, then you need to consider the following costs:
Advance deposits for office rent, brokerage charges, computers, ACs, Office Furniture, and Interior designing, with approximate costs of around $3000-$10,000 depending on the location and number of people you want to hire.
Recurring monthly costs – Office rent and salaries constitute around 50-60% of all the costs per month.
Sales & Marketing – You need to invest in sales and marketing to acquire clients in the long run.
It is easy to start a services business. However, the expansion is equally difficult.
You can start a blog in any niche and promote it on social media. If you have good research and social media skills, you can make it big in two to three years. You must have a side income or a full-time job to support your financial requirements for the first two to three years.
Initial Cost – $300 (for Domain, Hosting, a premium WordPress theme and developer’s fee)
Recurring costs – $50 per annum (In domain and hosting renewals)
Blog promotion – $200-300 per month
There is no limit on how much you can spend to promote a blog. However, avoid paid promotions in the initial few months of blogging. First, try to build a community organically and then use paid promotions to reach more people.
You can open play schools in residential areas. To begin, you need to have access to a residential space with a minimum carpet area of 750 sqft. It requires one-time investment in building the right ambience and creating education material for children. You also have the option of starting from scratch or taking a franchisee of a reputed brand. Today, many brands are scaling their business aggressively. Thus, you can easily get a Franchise of a well-known brand. In the case of a franchisee, the brands will support you in starting the firm. The chances of success may be higher, but you need to share a part of your revenue with the parent brand.
It makes a great business sense to invest in pre-schools as a one-time investment since it can fetch you a high return over a long period. It is also easy to scale.
Before you make up your mind to start a play school, remember that it requires your undivided attention especially for the safety of the children. It is a lucrative business that comes with a great responsibility.
Initial Investment – $5000 – 10,000
The monthly rental of premises and staff costs constitute 90% of the total recurring expenses. That means you have no regular expenses other than salary and rents. Since it caters to the local market, below-the-line marketing strategy (pamphlets, newspaper inserts, etc.) will be enough to promote the brand. Also, a differentiated building with prominently visible banners do a great work of promotion of the pre-schools. Thus, sales and marketing expenses are relatively less.
Food trucks are the professional versions of “thellas” that we see on the street. They provide quality food at affordable rates as they don’t have to pay steep rentals. They also need minimal staffing to manage the stall. Since a Food Truck is a more of a western concept and looks fancier, safe and hygienic – owning them is a matter of prestige. The best part of food trucks is that you can change their location as per your requirements. Thus, you can also use it in the front of a school in the afternoon and on a busy street in the evening. It provides a high return on investment. It is also easier to scale a food truck business than a restaurant.
Initial Fixed Investment – $5000-10,000
Recurring Costs – Staff and Raw material costs plus some “haftas” and “kharcha paani” to the local policemen based on your relationship with them.
It requires a high initial investment in staff, machinery, and business promotion. You may also need to invest in pick and drop facility to attract more customers. Since such kinds of services are high in demand, you will find plenty of clients and can recover your costs quickly.
Initial Investment – $7,000-$10,000
Recurring Costs – Staff’s salary and rental of workshops forms a significant part of the cost. Initially, you also need to invest significantly in sales and marketing. Over time, the marketing costs decrease as more customers get to know about your excellent services.
House Cleaning Services
No one wants to waste their weekend in cleaning their house or office. You can open a business in a house cleaning service and start making money from day one. You can get customers via phone, website, or listing yourself on local classified sites and popular marketplaces like Justdial, Haptik, Urbanclap, etc.
Initial Investment – Nil to $3000
Recurring costs – $200-1000 per month
Tours and Travel
Depending on the level of investment, you can start many types of businesses in tours and travel industry. The industry is expected to grow at a fast pace in future, thanks to Facebook and Instagram.
You can open a travel agency, become an affiliate partner of travel portals (like MakeMyTrip or Yatra) or open a themed stay business in a tourist location. You can also become a tourist guide if you have the time and knowledge of the heritage sites.
If you own a property, you can invest in its interior design to make it tourist friendly and list the property on Airbnb. It will fetch a significantly higher return than a hotel or residential property. The best of this is, your property need not be located in commercial areas. A 1000sqft flat can easily earn anything between $1000-2000 per month or even more depending on location and interior design.
Initial Investment – Not fixed. You can start from zero and make a fortune if you master the art of acquiring customers in tours and travel.
Fitness centres such as Gyms and Yoga training are in high demand across the country. To open a gym, you need to invest heavily in the equipment in the beginning. After that, you simply need to maintain the machines and earn a recurring income. To open a Yoga centre, you should either be an expert at it or need to hire a Yoga trainer. It requires less investment as compared to Gym as no equipment items are required.
Average Initial Investment to open a Gym- $5,000 – $15,000
Recurring costs – Rental and maintenance
Ice cream will never go out of fashion and so is the business of ice cream. It takes a tiny space and minimal staffing to start an ice cream parlour. You can start with a particular theme of ice cream to differentiate your business from the rest. Although you can start an ice cream shop anywhere, the best place for the same is the areas nearby schools, colleges, cinema halls, or in the malls.
Initial Investment – $1000-3000 (Rental, small ice cream equipment, and a refrigerator)
Recurring costs – Shop rental and cost of ice cream
Its seasonal nature of demand may require you to sell other items, especially during winters.
You hate trash and waste, but once you know the margins in the business of waste management, you won’t like any other business.
You can expect a high return immediately after starting the business. Also, you will never face a lack of customers and always get full support from the local government authorities. Plus, you will get big CSR funds from corporates if you are good in networking. This is the business in which you will either win or win in a big way. There is no loss. You simply need to figure out, where to start.
As an entrepreneur, you need not invest in technology or Research & Development for recycling of the waste. Many companies are already doing it. You can simply become a small part of the entire value chain and then extend your business horizontally to make more profits. For example, there are companies (although small in number) which tie up with corporates and collect garbage paper and send it to a recycling company. Thus, they is a link between a backend and customers. Similarly, you will find a lot of opportunities to make money in the entire value chain of waste management.
Investment – This business requires creativity and innovation more than money. You can become a part of the value chain without investing anything. At the same time, you can also invent a technology that recycles a type of waste efficiently. For this, you may need to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions).
Are you looking for an innovative business idea. Go through this list:
The investment required to do a business depends on several factors. However, there are some golden rules that apply to every type of business. Avoid hiring full-time employees unless it is a must to run your business. If at all you need to hire someone, try part-time contractors first. Don’t pay a high rental for a backend office. In the beginning, it is viable to rent an office in a remote area to save on costs. Finally, you should learn all activities of business so that in the case of urgency you can fill the gap. Low investment business ideas become successful only when you start the business with a frugal mentality and don’t overspend to impress your girlfriend, boyfriend, neighbours, or employees.
Do you want to share a business idea that requires low investments? Please share it through comments, and I will update this list. Also, share your opinion and feedback through comments. Subscribe to the newsletter so that you never miss a story.
To increase sales immediately or in a short timeframe, you need to reach out to more people who are interested in buying your product. Until people know about your company, they won’t buy your products or services. Thus, you need to improve your brand’s visibility among your target audiences immediately.
Here is how you can find the relevant people and target them through ads:
Register your products and services on online marketplaces that operate in your niche. Most of these marketplaces thrive on their massive marketing prowess and brand name. They also have a fraud detection and prevention policy that protects both, buyers as well sellers. Therefore, shoppers prefer to purchase items from established online marketplaces.
Competition from similar vendors and lack of ratings and reviews make it hard for new sellers to make a mark. However, with an excellent product description and some promotion, you will soon see the sales going up. The best part of online marketplaces is that most of the serious buyers visit their platform and therefore, your promotion becomes highly targeted. Also, you will have to pay a commission on each sale which is far better than paying for clicks or impressions.
Tip – Register yourself or the firm with a reputed platform and take their best membership. Promote your products aggressively in the marketplace. Try to get first few ratings as soon as possible.
Targeted Email Campaigns
Email marketing is still very efficient when it comes to generating leads or increasing sales immediately. You just need to find out the high-quality email database of your target audience. Connect with email marketing service providers who have the database of your target audience and also have explicit permission from the users to send promotional emails.
For example, one of my clients runs a post-graduate certificate program that is mostly preferred by fresh engineering graduates. For a consulting assignment, I suggested them the name of few job portals which cater specifically to engineering graduates and also have an email marketing platform for companies. We ran the campaign, and it was a huge success. Three years on, the company is still using the email marketing services of the job portals. The long association itself is an indicator of the success of the campaign. As of now, I have suggested this technique to many clients and most of them have found it useful.
Tip – Use email marketing if you can have access to a precise database. Email marketing in not sustainable if you target a broad range of users. Also, don’t depend on service providers to write campaign copy or design creatives or landing pages. Get all of these done from your end and to your satisfaction. Only use their platform to send emails.
Affiliate Marketing is a performance based marketing method in which the advertisers pay for per action. You can decide to pay for each lead or the sale depending on the nature of your products or services. Affiliate marketing is the source of customers for a majority of e-commerce firms. Usually, affiliate marketing campaigns take 3-6 months to start delivering returns. Also, you either have to spend significant time or hire someone who can handle the affiliate marketing for your business. It requires full attention from an experienced marketer to hire, train and encourage experienced affiliate marketers to promote your business.
LinkedIn Ads are expensive and not appropriate for all kind of projects. However, if your products appeal to a section of working professionals, LinkedIn Ads can be very useful. I got my first two clients from LinkedIn. While the first client turned out to be a scam artist, the second client was hugely profitable. When I created my company page on LinkedIn, I received an advertising coupon worth $50 from them. I added $50 from my end and ran a campaign for $100. I received three leads out of which two got converted. As I pointed out, one of them was a scammer (who got the work done and never paid; he was in the business of defrauding new entrepreneurs). The other client worked with us for quite long, and they also gave us few referrals. As of today, we have generated a business of worth more than $20,000 from them as well as their referrals. You may call it luck, but we got an excellent ROI, to say the least. I have seen similar success for my B2B clients.
LinkedIn has immense potential. If you are operating in B2B segment and have a significant budget, you must try LinkedIn ads.
Google Adwords is still my favorite advertising program to generate leads. Over time, it has become complex and expensive. Still, the ROI on Google Adwords is much better than other advertising programs. Most of the businesses make a mistake in hiring a professional to handle Google Adwords campaigns. Or pay a small fee for their services. AdWords requires a lot of attention from advertisers and campaign managers to deliver results. Otherwise, you will end up paying for irrelevant clicks or higher cost per click rates. Thus, always hire an experienced professional or an agency who can spend significant time on your AdWords campaigns.
Well, I am not sure if I should recommend Facebook Ads. Many advertisers have claimed a huge response from Facebook while many others have made complaints about fraud in Facebook advertising system. Many of my clients say that they receive good responses from Facebook ads, but conversion is very low. In many cases, people have entered incorrect email ids or phone numbers. Also, in some cases, people claim that they never filled any form or provided their contact details. After working on Facebook ads for four years, I recommend it with a pinch of salt. Usually, Real Estate, e-commerce or similar firms see a good response from Facebook. Facebook ads are also good for Mobile App downloads.
Disclaimer – I use Facebook ads to promote my blogs. However, my aim of the promotion is to improve readership and not leads. I will write a detailed blog post on Facebook Advertising later.
For me, LinkedIn and Online marketplaces have worked wonderfully to increase sales. A majority of my clients are also satisfied with the responses they have got from Google AdWords and email marketing. I have planned to use Google AdWords and Affiliate Marketing extensively for my business in 2017. I will keep you posted about the ROI as well as few tricks to save money on Ads while generating a better return. Do subscribe to my newsletter to stay in touch and get quick tips on digital marketing.
If you have tried any other online marketing techniques to generate sales immediately or in the short term, please share your experiences through comments.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hours in a day.”
Focus plays a critical role in the success of any individual or business. No startup would have ever become a giant company without focussing on their most valuable product or service. If you are planning to start a business, focus on one thing in which you are an authority or intend to become an authority. If you are already running a business and want to scale it further, focus on the core competency. And get rid of cosmetic products which add no or insignificant value to the revenue.
Focus helps companies in the following ways:
Focus boosts your expertise in a particular area. In the era of stiff competition, trust is the main differentiator for businesses. You can’t win the trust of your customers until you are an expert in what you do. Most of the successful companies first focus on one product or service to scale their operations and build a brand and then grow their business through mergers and acquisitions. Google wouldn’t have become what is it today if they would have integrated features of YouTube, Facebook, and Gmail into a single product. Accenture would not have emerged as a large consulting firm, had they started selling project management software.
Any product or service has enough demand to make your business big. Scaling a business with a single product or service is far easier than a company that has a wide gamut of goods. Service providers need to understand the concept of scaling their business before launching just another service. If you focus on just one service, you can find or train employees quickly to increase the bandwidth.
If you understand something better than your competitors do, you can create multiple pricing layers. For an expert advice or value added services, you can charge a premium price. The cost of production will also decline as you scale your business and thus overall profit will increase.
Your customers will be ready to pay a premium price for the expertise that you bring to the table. Therefore, your profitability will be higher than the competitors in your particular niche.
Focus on a particular niche and do it better than others until you want to be a mediocre company. There is nothing bad in being average as long as you understand that the mediocre businesses have a limited scope of growth. In difficult times, they are the first ones to shut their shop. The traditional startups which provide services face a lot of challenges in scaling their business. Until they are small and have few people, they tend to provide many unrelated services to their clients. However, once they try to scale their operations, things tend to become unmanageable. If you are facing a similar challenge in scaling your business, then try to focus on one service that is generating a significant chunk of the revenue. Once you set a direction for your business, you will see an increase in income and profit over time.
“Never depend on a single income. Make investments to create a second source.”
This quote from Warren Buffet highlights the importance of creating a second source of income. A secondary source of income boosts your confidence, on the job as well as outside of it. Financial security is one of the reasons why many people compromise on their dreams and never follow their passions. Multiple sources of income mitigate the financial risks. It also empowers people to exercise their creative freedom and take calculated risks to achieve their life goals.
Making money on the side with a full-time job may be hard but not impossible. It takes some time, initial investment and patience.
Here are few ways that can help you generate a decent extra income without quitting your full-time job.
If you don’t know about the Google AdSense yet, it is an advertising exchange service by Google that helps you monetize your web properties such as websites, blogs, YouTube videos, etc. If you know about Google AdSense, you may have heard that it generates very little income and is no longer profitable today. Even though it creates peanuts, I recommend starters to try it out. In the long run, it provides an excellent ROI without eating your time. In 2013, I wrote a blog on the topic “careers after graduation” and applied AdSense. After that, I never looked at the blog. At the time of writing this blog, I have earned a total of around $850. With some minor tweaks, the earnings are expected to increase to around $100 per month (currently it is $50 per month). With an investment of around $40, if I can earn $1200 per year and that too without doing anything, I don’t think it is a bad investment at all. To generate an equivalent rental income from real estate, you need to purchase a flat worth $40,000.
Google Adsense Earnings Screenshot
$40 per annum ($10 for domain name and $30 for a basic hosting plan)
1st month – 8-10 hours (Deciding a name, registering a domain, purchasing hosting and creating the website)
2nd to 6th month – 6-8 hours per month (In research and curating content, or putting relevant data on site if you are not comfortable in writing)
6th month onwards – Nil (Although you may give as much time as possible, the content would be sufficient to become a base for generating consistent income)
First Six Months – Nil (A new site must be at least six months old to get approved for AdSense)
First 6-12 months – $10-15 per month (This is the minimum. It could be much more if your topic is unique or content becomes viral or is of high quality).
12-24 Months – $25-30 per month
24-36 Months – $40-60 per Month
36 Months onwards – $100+ (If you invest 4-6 hours a month in keeping the content updated).
These estimates are based on the basic minimum investment and ordinary work. If you can write excellent content which becomes viral on social media or serves a niche audience, the AdSense income could be much more than what is estimated here. Many bloggers earn $1+ million from AdSense based on their traffic and target audience. Also, a site that caters to US audience will generate significantly higher AdSense income than a site that targets emerging countries such as India. I will post a detailed blog on Google AdSense later.
By working as a freelancer, you can start generating an immediate income. To start, you need to decide on a niche service that you can provide. If you can acquire customers regularly, the freelance income can surpass your full-time salary within a year or so. The freelance income can eventually convince you to quit your job and start your venture. Since freelancing requires active involvement and finding regular clients, you need to devote sufficient time on a regular basis. Therefore, it is recommended to those who can consistently work hard to provide quality services in addition to the full-time job.
At least 2-3 hours per day (maybe more on weekends in finding clients)
For first six months to one year – $300-500 per month (depending on the time spent in client acquisition and working)
1-3 years – $500-1500 per month
Beyond three years, your freelance income depends on how much time you are devoting, the quality of client base and business acumen. Many freelancers earn even $10,000+ per month and more. It entirely depends on the direction you provide to your freelancing business.
Affiliate marketing can be little tricky for beginners and suggested for those who have some working knowledge of digital marketing. In affiliate marketing, you promote others’ products and services and earn a commission on every referral or sale. It is one of the best ways to build passive wealth. For example, I bought a mobile phone on Amazon, and I liked it very much. I can post a review of the same on my blog and recommend it to my friends or readers. If anyone is purchasing the mobile or other items on Amazon using my referral links, then I will earn a commission. Most e-commerce firms use this technique to increase their revenue. All coupon sites use affiliate marketing on the back-end to generate revenue.
$200-500 per month (Website, hosting, content curation and promotion)
At least 4-6 hours a day (More if you want to start generating revenue soon)
Due to stiff competition, you may take almost six months to generate your first income through affiliate marketing. However, once you start making money, there is no looking back. Successful affiliate marketers make $30+ million per annum of revenue with a team of just 2-3 full-time employees and some freelancers.
Amazon Affiliate Program Screenshot
Selling Digital Products
If you are a writer, cook, a professional or an expert in a particular field, you can write ebooks and sell them on Amazon or several other marketplaces. If writing is not your forte, you can hire a writer to put your expertise into the words. The online marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart promote your products and charge a fixed percentage of revenue as commission on each sale. Many professionals have become millionaires by writing and selling ebooks and other digital goods or services. Apart from ebooks, you can also sell video tutorials, research reports, academic assignments, etc. to generate consistent income. If you are a graphic designer or photographer, you can register on ShutterStock, iStock or Graphic River to sell your products.
Fix Investment – $100-1000 (Depending on your writing or oratory skills)
Recurring Investment – $50-100 per month to promote products
Initial – 100-150+ hours (Depending on the product)
Recurring – 2-3 hours per day to promote products on various forums
Once buyers start rating your book positively online, you have to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your hard work.
First six months – 5-10 sale (The revenue will depend on the price of each unit of the product)
Afterwards – 2-5 sale every month if the product is resonating with its target audience.
The sale should get double every 2-3 years and so will be the income.
Note: These figures are for new sellers. It is based on my discussion with some successful sellers who have sold $1million worth of digital goods or services. However, the actual figures may vary. If you are a well-known personality, you may be able to sell a large number of books within a short span of time. It also depends on the quality of products, extent of promotion and the niche. Over 50% of the new books on Amazon have not seen a single sale in the first six months of publishing. Thus, you need to make your product outstanding and promote it extensively to make it a bestseller.
Become a Seller on E-commerce Marketplaces
Not only digital goods but you can sell almost anything without owning the product. For example, you can sell mobile phones without having an inventory of the same, thanks to the booming e-commerce sector. You can register yourself as a seller on online marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, or Snapdeal, etc. and create product listings. For the shipment of goods, you can tie-up with a local mobile phone vendor. You can work on a revenue sharing model with the supplier.
Many off-line retailers have no time or understanding of online channel. Thus, they can give you a good discount as well as a great commission for selling their products in bulk.
Fix – $10-100 (For creating product listings, images, or deposits, if any)
Recurring – $200+ per month (For SEO and promotion of product listings)
2-4 hours depending on your experience in digital marketing and the knowledge of the product
The return on investment depends on the category of products and the margin. It may take almost 3-6 months to generate first few sales. However, once you get first 10-15 ratings, then things become quite simple. After a year or so, you will see a sudden jump in the sales and revenue.
Do you love teaching? If yes, then this is the right time to convert your passion into a full-fledged business. Gone are the days when you needed to rent a property in a prime location and spend a lot to make it upmarket to start a premium educational center. Today, you can launch a coaching institute or an education center with just a computer and a good internet connection. Companies like Adobe and Cisco WebEx provide inexpensive tools and the infrastructure which can be used to teach hundreds or thousands of students online. You can also record the live lecture videos to sell it later as a product. If teaching is your first love, then start exploring this option today.
Fix cost – $0- 500 (On Educational material, content, etc. You can save this money by doing everything yourself)
Recurring – $50-100 per month + a fee depending on the number of students. (Cost of the education infrastructure provided by the companies)
You can start with 3-4 hours per day and increase it later based on enrolment
Based on your expertise, reputation, years of experience and niche you can make around $1500 per month easily with a year or two after launching the course. There is no limit to the maximum amount as it entirely depends on the direction you give to your business.
Adobe eLearning Solutions
If you are planning to quit your job and start a business on full-time basis. Read following article to know more about low investment business ideas:
Many other types of work can be done to build a great source of income. I will keep adding them as and when I try something new myself or any of our clients do it (with their due permission). One thing is critical for all kinds of businesses – Working online requires your commitment and time more than the money. You need to take a horizon of at least one to three years to make your business successful. However, the sooner you start the better it is. So don’t wait for a perfect date to start. If you want to build multiple sources of income, then right time is “now.” I wish you all the luck.
Do you need any help, let me know through comments!
To build a business, you need two things: Labour and Capital.
Entrepreneurs usually face scarcity of both. And, at the same time, they need to get things done to launch their business successfully. Fortunately, many tools and websites are available in the market that will fit your budget and help you in several ways. You can also use these tools to provide complementary services to your clients.
List of tools for entrepreneurs and small businesses
Fiverr – This is one the most powerful sites I have come across. You can get almost anything done at just $5. For example logos, whiteboard explainer videos, articles, mailers, business plans, Mobile App reviews, etc. When I started my business, I was not aware of this site. So I ended up paying hundreds of dollars for services that were available for just $5 on Fiverr. Visit this site to know more, and I am sure, you will definitely buy at least one item for your business.
WordPress – There is nothing better than WordPress if you want to develop a robust website for your business. You can develop basic sites for free. However, to give a professional look and feel, and enhanced functionality, you may need to purchase a premium theme which is discussed next.
Elegant Themes – I hired five professional web developers and wasted thousands of dollars before using Divi Theme by Elegant Themes. At a fraction of the cost, I was able to develop many awesome sites with the help of this theme. If you want an excellent corporate website for your new business, Elegant Themes will serve the purpose.
Grammarly – It is a very good proofreading software. With the help of this tool, you can write professional blogs, website content, and highly effective emails without having a fear of making a stupid spelling and grammatical errors. I always check my articles on Grammarly before posting them on this blog.
iStock – You don’t need to hire a professional graphic designer to design social media or digital ad campaign creatives. If you require extensive usage of images and graphics, subscribe to their monthly membership. Once you start using iStock, you will hardly feel the need for professional designers for daily graphic requirements. All the images used on this blog are purchased from iStock.
PhotoScape – PhotoScape makes professional image editing super easy. It has an intuitive interface and does a fantastic job. The tool has free as well as premium versions. I use the free version of the software which has sufficient features.
Copyscape – Plagiarized content can be extremely harmful to your site. If you outsource your content requirements, then use Copyscape to check the plagiarism. This tool checks if any portion of content is copied from another site and tell you the sources from where the content is copied.
Whenever I try a new tool and find it useful, I will add them here. I recommend only those tools that I have used and liked personally.
If you know great tools, websites, or applications that solve pain points of entrepreneurs, please suggest them through comments, and I will include the same in the list after a quick trial.