Internet Side Business: 5 Things You Should Know

Online business? Hah. Easier than a drunk Kardashian. At least, that’s the sentiment when you get a big idea. Two weeks later you’re red-eyed, dishevelled, and squeezing the contents of a bar rag down your throat because “I still can’t afford proper beer”. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the closest web entrepreneur. See his weak stagger? His eyes that reflect lost faith in humanity? He could tell you a thing or two. Like:

 

Bald guy on a laptop

Thanks for visiting BuyHair.com. We have a slight supply problem right now…

 

1. Online Side Businesses Don’t Free Up Your Time

Do you want your website to passively collect income? Do you want to spend 10 minutes a week on your site, and make an extra $2000 a month? Yes? Well so do I. Let me know if you get there.

Here’s a truth about online business: It’s time consuming. In many cases, you would actually save more time getting a second job. In my student years I fell for this; I thought if I ran an E-Bay shop, I’d make tons of money and have loads of free time. Here’s what happened:

 

Woman with plastic gun to her head

No, I LOVE answering 80 E-mail queries a day. Now excuse me forever.

 

  • Answer idiot E-mails – Two hours, because E-Bay is the source of 90% of the world’s stupid E-mails
  • Packing things – One hour
  • Checking bids, trawling to compare prices – Between two to four hours
  • Record keeping (What’s trending? What’s falling? How much did I make this week?) – One hour
  • Hunting for things to E-Bay – The whole damn weekend
*Which isn’t to say I hate E-Bay. It’s a great way to trade excess stuff for money. But as a side-business? I’d rather wipe my ass with sandpaper. 
In total, about six hours a day, plus my weekends were burned. Yeah, some “side business” that was.
I got sick of it and applied for a part-time job. All I had to do was edit brochures and layouts. The job paid $1600 a month, and I only had to show up three days a week. Case in point? I saved more time working offline than online.

2. There Are Low Barriers to Entry

 

Hitman

I finally figured out this Internet business. I fired the web developer and hired a hitman.

 

If you set up an online business, there will be competitors. I don’t mean in a few years. I mean months after you succeed, you’ll notice competitors multiplying like germs under a coffee shop table.

The Internet dissolves barriers to entry. It promotes competition (and coincidentally, piracy). That means your online side-business is never going to be a brainless, passive activity. You have to innovate and update. You need to develop promotions, find sponsors, connect with clients, provide after-sales support…everything associated with running a full time business.

And if you can’t devote the time it needs, your competitors will swarm over you and kill you. When an online business dies, it doesn’t happen slowly. What happens is 10+ competitors set up at the same time, and asphyxiate you faster than an asthma attack in a sinking submarine.

 

3. It Is Not Cheap

 

Book on top of iPad

I just found a way to make my site's mobile app a lot cheaper.

 

Sure, an online business can be cheap. But the cheap ones tend to not make money.

Think of the last time you sent money to a website. Did the site look sleek and professional (i.e. expensive), or did it look like a 16 year old’s MySpace page? Yeah, thought so. If you want to make money off your website, you’d better be ready to spend money on it.

If you happen to be a professional web designer, or can get a good one for free (“Kor-kor, come and do this for me!”) than congratulations. Big advantage. Otherwise, you better not imagine your site will cost $17 a year. Get ready to pay for image rights, digital artists, a wizard, content writers, etc. If you aren’t thinking on that level, you have a hobby, not a side-business.

If you expect to generate income, prepare to pay at minimum $500 for the site. Anything less is questionable. I know when I see a $200 site, because it looks like an animal died on my windscreen.

 

4. Survey BEFORE Launch

 

Fireman in front of burning house

"Just a quick survey question ma'am: Would you pay $0.99 a month for this fire safety website?"

 

Most online businesses fail in four months. That’s how long it takes before the site owner realizes: “Oh crap, nobody will actually pay me for this.”

Amateurs marry themselves to a particular idea. Sarah, whose web business lasted three months, told me that:

“… my idea was you could film yourself dancing, and then get a critique from a panel. I thought it was a great idea because I love constructive feedback, even when it’s negative.

But if I had done my homework first I wouldn’t have done it. The truth is most people won’t pay to be criticized. Not everyone’s professional, most dance for fun or to relax. And they can’t be bothered paying for someone to tell them this and that is wrong.”

And Sarah put a lot of time and work into her site. She hired a panel of experts, set up Twitter accounts, the whole shebang. She went through all that trouble, without stopping to wonder: How many people will open their wallets and give me money for this?

Successful websites seldom launch like that. Before they go up, their owners spend months doing surveys. They ask around and see if anyone will pay for the service, even if it’s just a Google docs survey. They only start setting up once people are saying: “Yes, I will pay you for that”.

 

5. You Need Content

 

Web content planning

Nice ideas, everyone. Ryan, go write these 4,322 articles would you?

 

If your idea of “online side business” is putting up pictures and waiting for orders, you’re clueless. Sorry, but you are.

Online, people have “search bar vision”. They filter out thousands of search results. So if they aren’t specifically looking for you, you may as well not exist. You’ll appear on page 10 of Google search, which is like Purgatory, but more embarrassing because you’re still alive.

The most obvious way to get around that is content. Articles, news, something that makes people frequent your site. Something they can share on Facebook, for example. And who is going to write that content? Can you really find the time to do an article a day?

Image Credits:
Jack Shainsky, threephin, shanewarne_60000, adactio, stvcr, AaltoFablab

Got an online side business? Comment and tell us about it!

Get more Personal Finance tips and tricks on www.MoneySmart.sg

Click to Compare Singapore Home Loans, Car Insurance and Credit Cards on our other sites.



More From MoneySmart
Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Pagasa: Drought may worsen
    Pagasa: Drought may worsen

    The drought in 12 already dry areas in the country is expected to worsen as the summer season peaks next month, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. In an advisory, PAGASA said the provinces of Albay, Bataan, Batangas, Biliran, Cavite, Cebu, Ilocos Norte, Leyte, Misamis Occidental, Pampanga, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur will continue to receive “way below” or “below normal” rainfall in May. PAGASA defines …

  • Maximum restraint for Phl troops in West Phl Sea
    Maximum restraint for Phl troops in West Phl Sea

    The military has advised its pilots conducting surveillance in the West Philippine Sea to exercise maximum restraint even if they are being bullied by Chinese troops. Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala said all actions of the pilots should be consistent with the declaration of conduct signed by claimant countries. Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the Philippines should remain on moral high ground when it comes to the territorial dispute. A …

  • MMDA simulates rescue march after quake, tsunami
    MMDA simulates rescue march after quake, tsunami

    The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) yesterday led the annual rescue march from Quezon City to Manila, giving rescue volunteers a glimpse of possible scenarios if the metropolis is hit by a strong quake or is inundated by a tsunami. Cora Jimenez, MMDA general manager, said 700 volunteer rescuers walked from the Quezon City memorial circle to the Bonifacio monument in front of the Manila city hall to simulate a response-exercise to a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. Renato Solidum, …

  • Islamic State threatens Mindanao, Phl tells Asean
    Islamic State threatens Mindanao, Phl tells Asean

    Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario bared yesterday before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reports of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threat to the Philippines through the Black Flag Movement in Mindanao. Speaking before ASEAN foreign ministers, Del Rosario said the ISIS threat to Philippine security is real rather than imagined because of the Black Flag Movement’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. …

  • ‘Chinese reclamation affecting Phl’s energy security bid’
    ‘Chinese reclamation affecting Phl’s energy security bid’

    China’s occupation and buildup of its military structures in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea is causing the country’s top energy official to get the jitters as the encroachment is seen as a huge dent on the Philippines’ efforts to achieve energy security. “It is a concern but if we don’t bring it to the United Nations, where will we bring it? We cannot bang heads with them,” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla told The STAR in an interview over the weekend. The US Energy …

  • Phl to Asean: China getting de facto control
    Phl to Asean: China getting de facto control

    The Philippines yesterday urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to unite and stop China’s massive reclamation in disputed waters as it will give China “de facto control” over the area and cause $100 million in marine wealth losses annually. At the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting here, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told his counterparts that the situation in West Philippine Sea had worsened just a year after the Philippines began to draw international …

  • Gov’t spends P11.8 M for Noy’s Asean trip
    Gov’t spends P11.8 M for Noy’s Asean trip

    The government has allotted about P11.8 million for President Aquino’s attendance at the 26th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in Malaysia from April 26 to 28. “President Aquino’s participation to the 26th ASEAN Summit is important as the region gears toward the creation of an ASEAN community, which is envisioned to provide new opportunities for the peoples of this region, including the Philippines,” Ochoa said in a statement. He was with …

  • Mary Jane: Shun drugs, get legit recruiters
    Mary Jane: Shun drugs, get legit recruiters

    As Mary Jane Veloso held on to vestiges of hope that her life might be spared, she thanked Filipinos for their support and had some pieces of advice.  Efforts to save Veloso from the firing squad continued after Indonesian authorities issued the notice of execution to the Filipina worker who had written four letters – including one for President Aquino – expressing hope that justice will prevail and her gratitude to her countrymen. Veloso’s relatives arrived in Nusa Kambangan Island on …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options