It's easy to imagine that starting a new income stream or business is a slow and laborious thing to do. However that does not have to be the case.
You can now set yourself up to promote something to the whole world in just an hour or so – whether it’s your skills, writing, photography, products, event, or music.
That’s because there is a huge range of online tools available to help you start your business faster than you ever imagined possible. And many of them are very affordable or even free.
It’s like a giant toybox just waiting for you to dive in!
No website yet? No traffic? No problem!
If you don’t yet have a website – or you have one but its total weekly visitors would all fit in a London cab – it’s easy to see this as a roadblock to getting started. But we're going to sidestep that entire issue by looking at how you can start your own thing without needing your own site with lots of traffic.
Imagine having a huge audience ready and eager to buy exactly what you can offer. Sound good? Well that’s what is available for you right now. Here’s the trick: instead of marketing yourself on your own site that attracts nothing but tumbleweeds, promote yourself on a third-party marketplace which people are visiting every minute of every day searching for what you’re providing.
There are marketplace and community sites for every possible kind of product, service or experience you can offer. Here are some examples.
Selling your skills as a freelancer
- If your business idea revolves around skills you already have from your previous career (or that you’ve been developing on the side) you can promote them on a freelance marketplace today. Sites like Freelancer.com, PeoplePerHour.com and Elance.com make an ideal showcase for any skills you have in design, photography, translation, web development, social media, marketing and business support. You can post a profile and then search for projects needing help and submit proposals. Freelancer.com has 16 million users who have posted a total of 8 million projects so far so there’s no shortage of work but you’ll need to show that you have something of real value to bring to a project to win it.
- For a more playful take on selling services check out fiverr.com. People registered on the site will record a movie trailer-style voiceover, draw a cartoon, design a logo, transcribe an interview, or sing a personalised ring tone for $5 and up. As the bargain basement of freelance marketplaces, Fiverr can be a fun place to experiment with charging for something you’ve only previously done as a hobby.
- If you want to sell your services to other businesses (eg as a consultant or trainer) and you don’t have a website yet, just create a profile on LinkedIn so that you can give its address to people interested in your work. You can also invite others into your network, write blog posts within the site to share your expertise, and join groups to communicate with others in your field.
- If you have an idea for a live event, meetup.com is designed exclusively for that very task and has 22 million users across 180 countries. That means there could be up to a million people searching Meetup.com for events on any one day. The site is ideal for launching a free or low-cost event for the general public and can even take ticket payments for you. There is enormous value in running an event that places a whole group of your target market in the same room with you, even if the event itself makes little money. You can build a community and get to know their concerns and desires, you’ll be seen as a leader in your field, and you’ll have opportunity to promote your work.
- If you want to start really low key – for example just to get some people together who might be interested in getting involved with your business – just post an event on Facebook and invite all your contacts to RSVP.
Selling arts, crafts, and physical products
- If you have handmade or vintage arts or crafts you can set up a store front on Etsy.com which handles an estimated US$1 billion in total annual transactions. Or, even easier, just try selling your first items on eBay. What’s great about eBay of course is that you can see how much people are willing to pay for your product in an auction. That’s an ideal way to test pricing. You can also search the site for completed auctions to see what similar products finally sold for.
- Alternatively it’s possible for you now to get a product manufactured in China (using a supplier listed on Alibaba.com) and sell it on Amazon or another online marketplace.
- At the opposite end of the scale you can have a lot of fun creating T-shirts, mugs, magnets, and cards with just a few clicks by uploading your design to a site like Cafepress or Zazzle. Visitors can buy your product off the site, and it is then printed and shipped to them.
- If you want to publish your own book, Amazon is without doubt the number one place to make it available, whether that’s a digital version on kindle or a printed version delivered by Amazon direct to your reader. Check out the Kindle Direct Publishing site to find out more.
- For a printed version, check out Print On Demand services like Lulu.com or Blurb.com or print larger numbers using Amazon subsidiary Createspace.com
A simple principle to follow...
The principle we're using here is a simple one:
Why invest endless time and energy to get people to come to your own site before you can make any money when you can go somewhere with thousands or even millions of people interested in the things you offer?
What could your instant business be today?
Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts, questions, and experiences.