The Internet Age and Online Business Opportunities

The Internet Age has spawned thousands of ways to make an income by using it. It literally provides opportunities to make ‘a fast buck’ but unless supremely talented or extremely lucky, this can at best be a supplementary form of income. Of course, the work may pay well but it requires plenty of time and dedicated effort to be invested in that space. Such ways of earning incomes are provided by online businesses.

There is no dearth of ideas to choose business opportunities online but it requires a great deal of planning and research to find one that suits an individual’s skills and area of expertise best. The topmost advantages of online businesses are that it requires no ‘brick-and-mortar’ structure nor does it require many people to conduct the business. An online business can even be headed by a single person. Some of the very popular online business opportunities include:

• Blogging – this is an excellent way of giving space and freedom to writing expression. Though blog writing does not require great technical skills, it needs a certain amount of promotion to attract others to the blog and building a following. If the blog becomes popular, advertisers can be requested to post their ads on the blog; products can also be promoted on the blog which result in paid commissions.

• Paid writing – many people start their own blogs but are unable to sustain for a long time. Writing articles for other sites or blogs can help an individual indulge and entertain the passion of writing and earning an income. For someone who has a good command over a language, becoming a copy editor and accepting assignments for editing etc. is well paying.

• Affiliate or Reseller – ideally suited for those who have the knack of marketing and selling products. An affiliate or reseller is one who can earn a commission through sales of products promoted on his or her website; all it needs is to tie up with an affiliate program and start promoting products

• Professional freelancing – skilled people in respective trades can accept projects through bids for article writing, content creation, SEO, website design, data entry, programming and many other jobs for established businesses. Elance, Freelancer.com, oDesk and others are popular freelance sites.

• Online advertising – Google AdSense is the most popular in this category where PPC (pay per click) advertising options for ads clicked by visitors to a website or a blog can bring income. However, the returns depend on the amount of traffic to the website or blog and the click-through rates. Other forms of online advertising can be through Blogads, TextLinkAds and RSS feed.

• Selling photos – an avid photographer or a shutterbug can make good revenue by selling photographs that they have clicked on various subjects. There are plenty of people who are not into photography and who require images for various purposes. Many agencies like Shutterstock and Fotolia offer incentives to people to earn through their photographs.

Other ways of conducting an online business and earning revenue include -

• Webinars and e-tuitions – online tutorials, lectures and seminars
• GPT (Get Paid To programs – filling online surveys, playing games
• Theme designing – design theme templates for websites and blogs
• Forex trading – stock market may be a risky option but dogged determination and research will bring in good returns
• Virtual Assistant – small online businesses use VAs (Virtual Assistants) to function as an office secretary to handle many tasks and administrative duties.
• Medical Transcription – this area needs particular skill sets such as high speed typing and a firm grasp of medical terminology. This is used for quick turnaround of medical reports, patient history and documents, consultation and clinical notes, psychiatric evaluation etc. and is more or less like a BPO service.

Is Investing in US Savings Bonds Worth While?

With saving accounts and certificate of deposits paying extremely low interest rates the past couple of years; is it time to consider placing money into US Savings Bonds?

Depending on your age, you might remember years back when many employers offered an automatic payroll deduction for accumulating the bonds. You could have even walk into your local bank or savings and loan branch and purchased the bonds.

Today it is quite different, purchases are made directly from the US Treasury either online or the postal service. The amount per year that you can purchase has also changed from $15,000 per taxpayer social security number to $5,000 today.

However you can purchase both an online bond (electronic version) as well as the old typical paper bond thereby the annual total is $10,000 annually. Since the annual total is based on each individual’s social security number, a married couple could each purchase $10,000 every year.

Advantages of US Saving Bonds:

  • Tax deferred, you only pay taxes on the income when you redeem the bonds.
  • Small denominations, you may purchase in amounts of $25 or more.
  • Better interest rates than most savings accounts or money market funds.
  • Tax free under certain circumstances depending family income and if used for education.
  • Exempt from state and local income tax.

Currently there are two types of savings bonds you can purchase, that being an (I) bond or EE. Forget the EE bonds as they lock in a rate for thirty years, at today’s low rates it’s not worth the low investment return. However the (I) bond adjusts its interest rate every six months and will continue to accrue interest up to thirty years.

Keep in mind that all bonds purchased recently or in the past stop earning any interest after thirty years. So if you have old savings bonds that are older than 30 years, you should redeem them and reinvest them elsewhere or into a newer bond.

Redemption of Bonds:

Must hold the bonds for at least twelve months and if you redeem before five years you will forfeit the last quarter of earned interest.

In the past five years or so (I) bonds have actually had a better interest yield than many other liquid investments including savings accounts, CD’s and mutual funds. The current six month yield is 4.60 percent as of September, 2011. The bond also is adjusted twice a year that being May and November. The six month yield is calculated based on a fixed rate of return and a variable semiannual inflation rate.

To summarize if you are not happy with what is being offered by your bank or money market fund, consider a US Savings Bond as an alternative.

Top 5 Advantages of Starting Your Business Online

Starting a business is risky. It’s the reason why everyone doesn’t have one. It can require thousands of dollars of investment just to get off the ground. 9 out of 10 of all new businesses fail in the first year. Before any profit is made, things like product inventory, incorporation, advertising, employees, accounting, insurance, licenses, commercial space etc. have to be paid for.

Enter the internet..

The digital world has taken away a lot of the risk of starting the business of your dreams. There are still start-up expenses involved in the beginning but they are not nearly as high as starting a brick and mortar business. License and incorporation fees are going to have to be paid online or offline but most of the other expenses can be avoided in the early stages by starting with your online presence.

If it can be sold in a store it can be bought online and shipped to the customer’s home. At the very least it will add an additional revenue stream for the business. There are plenty of advantages to starting a business online but here are my top five.

1. There is no immediate need for full-time in-house employees.

What makes online business so powerful is its scalability; meaning you do a little bit of work for a greater result. With automation tools you can have a lot of your tedious data entry tasks done without you even thinking about it. With PayPal you can accept payments online through your website without you even knowing a credit card was entered.

If you are selling digital products that are to be downloaded then there is no need for pre-ordered inventory or commercial space, thus eliminating the cost of rent.

For when you actually need the assistance of a real human, sites like oDesk.com and Elance.com make it possible for you to outsource work to people on a for hire, monthly or even a full-time basis.

Things like insurance and security are needed for online as well as online but securing intellectual property stored online in the cloud is a lot less expensive than doing the same for merchandise in a store that is susceptible to theft or fire

2. You have the freedom to travel.

There is no need for a physical location in most cases so there is no need to stay in one place. If you need to pack up and move your company to another state where there is more opportunity, it can be as simple as packing up your laptop and accessories and leaving. With a physical ‘brick and mortar’ business, it would be a little more difficult to relocate. You will most likely be constrained to whatever lease agreement you may have in place.

As you know, business and tax laws vary from state to state. Having your operation online gives you the freedom to choose where you want your business to be incorporated. You would have to have some sort of address established in the state but it doesn’t have to an actual store. There are a few states who’s laws work best for the traveling internet entrepreneur. *I am not an accountant or a business lawyer so please consult one before getting started.*

3. The whole world has access to what you’ve got to offer.

You aren’t limited to your immediate geographical area anymore. You aren’t limited to ANY geographical area for that matter. Offering your products and services online opens your business offering up to the edges of the world. The internet doesn’t sleep and there are billions of people online looking for solutions to their problems, while YOU are sleeping.

4. You are at the fingertips of a growing online market.

The internet definitely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon as more and more people are gaining access to an internet connection or a smart phone every second. E-commerce is following the same trend as more and more people are becoming comfortable making purchases online and from their mobile devices. From a consumer’s standpoint, making purchases from the comfort of your own home can save you a lot of time, and for certain products, shame or embarrassment.

5. You can inexpensively test your market.

Not every brilliant idea translates into a consumable product or service. And as you know, the failure rate of new businesses is very high. Another advantage of starting a business online is the ability to gauge interest without actually having the product readily available for sale. One example of this that I’ve seen a lot is a preview or ‘beta’ page with a prototype of a product where people can sign up to ‘be the first to know’ when the product is made available. This can be done with a food product, a clothing line, an app, pretty much anything. It’s a great way to gauge interest before you go all in with a final product.

You don’t need $10,000 to start a business anymore..

There are hundreds of ways to make money online and frankly, who can afford NOT to open up shop to the billions of people on the internet. There are still a lot of traditional brick and mortar businesses that are not providing their products and services online, constraining themselves by business hours and management of on premise staff.

All you need is a website, a product or service and consistent potential-buyer traffic to that website. No permits, no city council meetings, no weather constraints and depending on where you live, no off duty police officer.

Recommended reads: ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ & ‘The $100 Startup’