Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The advance of the internet has democratized admission to the world of entrepreneurship. From virtually anywhere in the world (provided internet access), makers can launch real, viable businesses capable of generating millions of dollars a year.
While technology has lowered the barrier to entry to starting a business, there’s still an infinite supply of problems just waiting to be solved. With tons of ideas out there, the primary ingredient for building a startup — besides time and a bit of luck — is execution. You just have to get started. To get you started, here are 24 viable business ideas.
Gmail Extension Creator
Modern businesses rely on email to get their work done. There are dozens of opportunities to build Gmail extensions that automate parts of a professional’s workflow to save time and money.
Related: 20 Gmail Hacks Only Savvy Users Know
Improvement in aviation technology has made it easier than ever to get a drone up and flying over a beautiful landscape or building. The commercial and residential real estate industries are practically begging for more drone videographers to serve their agents and home developers.
Drop Shipping Business Owner
You can start an e-commerce business without holding any inventory. This practice, known as drop shipping, offers a lot of opportunity if you can dominate the right niche.
Online Course Creator
If you know an industry or task really well, you can easily create and sell an online course that teaches people a new skill. You’ll just have to invest the resources upfront that are necessary to develop the class.
Social Media Manager
You can run social media accounts for a number of different companies if you market yourself well. Advertise your ability to drive sales and increase ROI by leveraging the reach of multiple social channels.
It’s a common dream nowadays to become an internet celebrity, and there’s a reason: Building a wide audience on the internet can give you immense influence that can be monetized at scale.
Affiliate Marketing Partner
Affiliate marketing is a partnership that bloggers, content creators or marketers can have with an online retailer. The retailer pays a commission for every referral sale the partner sends their way.
Event Planner and Promoter
Restaurants, clubs and other physical venues often struggle to get customers in the door. Using your ability as a marketer, you can be compensated for directing traffic to these locations.
Real Estate Investor
In any market, there are opportunities for buying and selling real estate to make a profit. With a bit of capital, you can begin taking more risks on your assets and making long term investments in residential and commercial real estate. Just be sure to do your research before you get started.
You can turn your ability to write well and quickly into a serious business if you find the right clients. Try freelancer platforms like Upwork and Freelancer.com. As long as you provide consistent and quality content, over time, your business is bound to grow.
Being fluent in another language can be extremely valuable to people who need their websites translated. Put up a simple website, and you can start charging for “translation as a service” for websites, documents and presentations.
FAQs Chatbot Builder
Companies waste dozens and dozens of hours a week answering support questions from their customers. Help them automate this process by using a simple chatbot.
Using Flippa or any other online business marketplace, you can buy and sell projects, domains and websites. With the right eye, you can find great deals on promising ideas and turn them for a profit with just a small investment in the right areas.
Building a newsletter with an active following is an extremely lucrative business opportunity because advertisers will pay serious dollars to get their names in front of the right audience. Start with a small niche that you can really provide value to, and you’ll likely see your subscriber list grow over time.
Learn how to use Photoshop or sketch, and you can start charging clients for your design work. As a freelancer, you’ll be able to make your own hours and dictate your own progression as your business grows.
If you enjoy fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then personal training could be a prime business for you. There’s always a market for it through people who are looking to get in shape — and looking for someone to push them in the right direction.
Craigslist can be a goldmine finding deals that you can flip for a profit. There are plenty of resources available online that can help you identify the good deals from the rest of the pack.
Related: How to Make a Fortune With $100
Farmers’ Market Seller
If you know any farmers in your area, you can reach out to them and offer to sell their products at farmers’ markets. Rather than paying upfront, you can mitigate your risk by partnering with the farmers in exchange for commission.
Paid Advertising Consultant
Most businesses rely on some sort of paid advertising to drive leads for their business. Become an expert at Google AdWords or Facebook ads, and you can start charging clients for managing their spend.
Whether it is for the ACT, SAT or just general schoolwork, many students could use support to do their best in different subjects. Become a resource that helps students succeed in the classroom, and many parents will likely be willing to pay you for the help.
Well-paid CEOs do not have the time or energy to worry about many of the administrative tasks that can come with the job. If you can give wealthy people their time back by acting as an outsourcd assistant, many will be more than happy to compensate you appropriately.
Believe it or not, you can turn a profit off of beinga “professional reviewer,” or someone who reviews products by publishing thoughts about them online. It will take some time to gain some domain authority, but after a while, you could become a thougth leader in your space.
Becoming a life coach is as simple as determining which of your past experiences you can use to provide value to others. Whether it is providing actionable strategies or general advice, you can likely find a niche as a life coach or mentor.
There are plenty of companies and professionals out there who want a website to represent them online but don’t have the skills to create it. Many are more than willing to pay for a quality website that will better display their brand image.
How Brands Can Use Affiliate Marketing to Increase Their Marketing ROI
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Getting a strong return on a marketing investment: It keeps a lot of people up at night. How will the money spent on that PR firm translate into sales dollars? How will that huge advertising campaign that cost a million dollars impact your brand? For most marketing initiatives, determining ROI is an unpredictable waiting game with no guaranteed outcome.
There’s one marketing model that plays by a different set of rules, however — rules based on paying for performance after results have been driven. Affiliate marketing, once viewed as a shot in the dark, is driven today by sophisticated technology, transparency between partners and compensation tied to specific, measurable results.
That said, a successful affiliate program requires the right experience and partners. Whether you’re looking to start an affiliate program or take an existing program to the next level, you need a strong team behind you. Here are the five players you need to ensure you’re driving the affiliate ROI you want:
1. An Agency
Unless your company has the resources and bandwidth to build a team of several people with extensive affiliate marketing knowledge and experience, hiring an agency is the best option. Agency marketers are experienced at handling the multifaceted complexities that come with building and growing a high-performing program.
Make sure you’re clearly looking at the agency’s setup, ensuring it’s based on performance. I once saw a speech by Robert Glazer, the CEO of Acceleration Partners, a global affiliate marketing company. He wrote a book called “Performance Partnerships,” which focused on aligning any affiliate program with performance. It’s easy to fall for the trap of working with a company that says it will bring you sales, but make sure it puts its money where its mouth is. If it doesn’t deliver in the short term, chances are high it might not be able to meet long-term expectations.
2. A Scalable Network or Platform
Whether it’s an affiliate network or SaaS platform, all affiliate marketing programs need a technology platform to run on. Your platform should be able to support your growth plans and offer you the right features and geographical coverage, particularly if yours is a global brand.
Awin is an example of this type of platform. The firm provides technology that helps address industry challenges, such as third-party tracking, data light tracking, attribution and advanced commissioning. These types of data weren’t available years ago, but with new tech advances, you can identify what works, as well as when and why. It’s not just valuable for the affiliate program, but for also learning what works so you can apply that knowledge to different sales channels.
3. Loyalty Partners
If you want to scale your program quickly, you’ll need to partner with players who are focused on establishing loyal customers. Ebates is one of the bigger players in the loyalty sector operating on a performance basis. The brand is actively expanding its markets and its categories beyond retail to include travel, dining and ride-sharing for cash-back rewards.
It’s important to determine whether these types of partners will truly create loyalty or attract the wrong types of customers. If you pick the right type of loyalty partner, it can result in the strong, loyal customer base that’s key to long-term brand survival.
4. Mobile Partners
Customers are increasingly spending time on mobile devices and apps, so it’s imperative to have partners within your affiliate program who dominate the mobile ecosystem.
Ibotta is an example of one of these apps in the U.S., connecting consumers with grocery, retail and lifestyle brands and rewarding them with cash for buying things they need. I used the app pretty easily when I was standing in line with customer service after a purchase. I simply took a picture of the receipt, and the app applied the cash back to my account. With a lot of mobile user growth, it’s good to look at partners who have developed a mobile user experience that makes things easy and accessible for the customer.
5. Tech-Driven Publishers
The affiliate space has grown well beyond coupon and deal partners. To drive incremental revenue on a performance basis within your program, consider partnering with publishers who are advanced in e-commerce technology, including deep website integration and artificial intelligence.
RevLifter is one example: The company helps brands deliver more conversions, incremental sales and customers by personalizing deals for advertisers across marketing channels. Available worldwide on a pay-per-performance model, it uses AI to understand real-time signals from users’ on-site behavior and deliver the right deal to the right customer at the right time.
Whether you’re new to affiliate marketing or simply needing to step up your game, checking off these boxes will help you develop a strong affiliate marketing program. ROI is hard to manage when you’re running a bevy of marketing programs, but the right team can help you take the reins — and get the outcome you want.
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This $19 Course Demystifies Affiliate Marketing in Two Hours Flat
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Fire up your go-to social media feed, and there’s a good chance you’ll scroll past at least one promo code or coupon being promoted by an influencer you follow. Without even trying, you’ve been exposed to a new brand, as well as an incentive in the form of a free trial or discount that might just get you to convert. That’s the magic of affiliate marketing.
Companies big and small are leveraging affiliate marketing to drive brand awareness and conversions, and affiliate marketers stand to make a pretty penny for their services. Of course, the field can be a bit tricky to crack. but that’s what the SEO Affiliate Domination course is for. Now only $19, this course can help you make a killing in the affiliate marketing scene; and for 90% off what it would usually cost.
In just two hours, this course offers a detailed look into the lucrative world of affiliate marketing. Jump in, and you’ll discover important strategies for e-commerce, affiliate marketing, SEO, and video marketing; and you’ll emerge with a greater understanding of how to build brand authority.
Pick a Marketing Model That Lets You Pay for Results, Not Potential
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In an era of caution, companies need to invest in marketing efforts that lead to a direct payoff and don’t require more than they can afford. Over the past week, I’ve had to evaluate all the things I’m doing at Calendar to see what’s really moving the needle. It’s astonishing the things we’re spending money on that aren’t actually driving revenue to our bottom line.
As today’s environment forces drastic behavioral shifts in our daily lives, companies of all sizes and in all industries are evaluating the changes they need to make to stay nimble in our new economic reality. As businesses adapt to the stay-home economy, they’ll be focusing on which investments drive the best possible outcomes.
Businesses are used to pouring money into marketing channels that require upfront, flat-fee investments for promised inputs and potential outputs. Rather than invest in these marketing channels, companies can leverage affiliate marketing, which only requires them to pay partners once they’ve achieved the desired result.
What is affiliate marketing?
When managing their marketing budgets, companies should invest in channels tied directly to outcomes and avoid unnecessary risk. After all, if they pour all their funds into marketing but see no payoff, how will they afford to develop their products and services further?
Affiliate marketing (often called “partner marketing”) is simple: A brand partners with a publisher, or an affiliate, to market a product or service to its audience using a tracking platform. Unlike marketing channels that require upfront payment, brands pay publishers a percentage-based commission for each sale generated through their content.
Forrester predicted that by the close of this year, U.S. ecommerce sales would total $500 billion. Combine that with predictive analytics firm Custora’s prediction that affiliate marketing will influence 14 percent of ecommerce purchases in the U.S., and that means affiliate marketing will impact $70 billion worth of sales. Pepperjam’s Adobe Summit 2017 Survey revealed that only 4 percent of are investing in affiliate marketing, meaning there’s a big opportunity.
How affiliate marketing pays off (in more ways than one).
Affiliate marketing offers a cost-per-action (CPA) payment structure instead of a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) structure. This creates a sustainable, competitive advantage because businesses only have to pay for converted sales and leads after the publisher finalizes them. Even during tough times, brands should always want to pay for incremental revenue. It prevents businesses from throwing good money after bad — they don’t need to invest large amounts of money into marketing campaigns or ads that turn out to not convert as expected.
Instead of continuously investing money into Facebook and Google, hoping it leads to conversions, affiliate marketing enables brands to broadcast their product to a wide audience of potential customers with a pay-for-performance pricing model. It also enables them to be more hands-off, allowing their affiliate partners to use their brand standards to do the work themselves. Affiliate programs can even include partners who will share the brand via Facebook or Google; unlike traditional methods on those platforms, these will be paid based on those campaigns’ performance, allowing a low-risk entry to these channels.
Even in an uncertain economy, this framework can scale. Because the marketing investment is only a portion of the revenue the partnership brings in, businesses just have to figure what they’re willing to pay for each transaction or new customer. They don’t have to worry about pouring excessive budget into a single channel.
In a precarious marketplace, businesses need to stabilize their immediate future by investing in channels that they know will drive profit. Affiliate marketing is the model for this moment: It’s built on transparent and trusting relationships, where brands and partners set clear expectations and companies only have to pay for the outcomes they get.
People are at home, and that’s where affiliate marketers can capture their attention. Companies can stay ahead of the game by using affiliate marketing to maximize their ROI and make sure they’re paying for outcomes, not inputs.
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