A long time ago I wrote a post about the kind of jobs that expats in France do or might consider doing to help make ends meet (see expat work in France).
But times and ideas move on and recessions turn up unexpectedly so I thought I’d suggest a different idea. This is something I would do myself it I had more time, and that I am quite confident could earn a plausible income for a suitably dedicated person (or unlimited number of people).
The advantages are that you can start very small, there is almost no financial risk, and you have the theoretical opportunity to earn wealth beyong your wildest dreams…
The downside is that the ideas requires at least 3-6 months of hard study and effort first before you have any hope of earning income (hence why it is a suitable idea for expats, who are often likely to have time available over the next few months during the ‘off season’ for tourists).
The basic idea
The basic idea is not new or complicated to understand.
Almost all shops and businesses are happy to pay commissions to people who find them customers. Online this is called affiliate marketing. Even in the middle of a recession a company is hapy to pay a few percent of its income to get additional customers because the cost is factored into the price (either a business pays for shop premises, or for online advertising, or pays you to find them customers – they generally aren’t bothered which)
For example a chain of garden centres might pay you 5% for each plant they sell to a customer you take to them, a business selling magazine subscriptions might pay £10 for each subscription customer you find them, or a company selling canal boating holidays might pay £100 for each customer they get from you.
These opportunities exist in almost every area of business, from selling computer hosting to bike tyres.
So your ‘simple’ goal is to find customers for a shop or business! You could try traipsing the streets but that is unlikely to work, so you need to use your computer instead and place adverts online. Typical examples of how people find customers include google adsense and facebook ads, but there are numerous other options.
So all you have to do is:
(1) think of a product or service that you could write knowledgeably about and where companies are happy to pay you if you find them customers
(2) make a one page website (called a ‘landing page’) about it, ultimately suggesting the product you are trying to sell (it is illegal to lie or mislead in advertising, even on the internet, so choose something you can honestly recommend yourself or perhaps provide an impartial comparison between several options).
(3) learn all about advertising options so that you are reaching a very targetted audience at the cheapest possible rate, to get potential customers to your site at the lowest price possible.
As an example of the maths, you are trying to reach a point at which, for example, you are paying 20 cents for each person who visits your site, from where 1 in 50 buys a product, for which each sale makes you 30 euros). So for every 100 visitors to your site you are making 10 euros profit.
So it is imperative that you learn about low-cost marketing, landing page design and high conversion rates or the maths won’t work out! I can’t give more details here but the phrases I would use to search for more information include ‘landing pages’, ‘affiliate marketing’ and ‘google adwords tutorials’.
Other websites I would look at include ‘commission junction’ and ‘affiliatewindow’ (these companies list a lot of the shops and businesses who pay these commissions, and handle all the transactions, so you don’t have to deal with small businesses yourself).
Think it couldn’t work? Remember that google made about usd 10 billion profit last year, pretty much all from people and companies advertising products in the way I described. Think these advertisers are all wrong or throwing their money away?
There are numerous ‘unsuccessful’ online ideas waiting to catch you out and take your money if you are not careful. These include ‘get rich quick’ guides (by people who aren’t rich), ‘make money online’ guides (by people who make money online only by selling these guides), and numerous opportunities to buy ‘very profitable’ existing websites and franchise opportunities.
I only mention these risks because the internet is full of scammers and as soon as you start investigating the options available there is a world of people who will go to great lengths to sell you guides and tutorials to getting rich online or getting your email address out of you for future marketing use (hint use a temporary email you can throw away later for all ‘sign up’ type newsletters).
So tread carefully, don’t rush into anything or pay for anything, and don’t forget to leave a comment below in 6 months time when you hit the big time!