Even though one-in-ten people are left-handed, products for the southpaw in your life could still be considered a niche market. Many small businesses claim that PPC doesn’t work for them, or that they can’t compete with the big retailers, but in many cases, that simply isn’t true. Case in point, San Francisco-based left-handed retail specialist Lefty’s.
Used-car salesmen unfortunately have some nasty stereotypes to live down, but you don’t need a tacky blazer or a fast-talking sales pitch to make money buying and reselling cars. People throw away perfectly good (or certainly good enough) cars all the time for all sorts of trivial issues. If you know a little something about servicing a car and can make one shine for a Craigslist ad, you could take advantage of massive opportunities to buy used cars and resell them for major profit.
The home office deduction may become even easier to use in the near future. Colleen DeBaise wrote, in an early 2006 article entitled "Locking In The Home-Office Deduction," about efforts being made to simplify this tax deduction. She wrote, "The National Association for the Self-Employed, a small-business group in Washington, D.C., supports a simplified, standard deduction to ease the burden on home-based businesses. And perhaps someday, sweet relief will be granted: Two bills introduced in 2005 contain language for a standard home-office deduction, although neither has passed. One of the bills, the Small Employer Tax Relief Act of 2005, specifically calls for a standard home-office deduction of $2,500'¦. In the meantime, small-business owners have little choice other than to muddle through the form—or hire a tax adviser for help."
Every year, hundreds of millions of documents are notarized in the United States: wills, mortgages, citizenship forms, handgun applications. While for decades, this has all been done in person, there is a budding crop of sites that allow notaries to take their services online. If you’re already a notary, you can sell your services online. Or, if you want to get started, check out the National Notary’s checklist for becoming a certified notary.
If you are a creative type, then you could make money online by designing and selling crafty products on Etsy. Etsy sells a range of beautiful and original items from independent suppliers. Categories range from jewelry, clothes, and accessories, to art, collectibles, and vintage. So if you have some stunning crafty creations, Etsy is the perfect platform from which to sell from.
This isn’t to scare you off. I simply want you to know that this guide is going to focus solely on ways to make real, sustainable extra income online. Not just a few bucks. I want to share all the mistakes I've made that got me to where I am now so that you don’t have to go through them, and can build a successful online source of income for yourself.
Your clients may need convincing. Like it or not, there is something about an office that says “professional.” Unless you’ve got a separate entrance and a truly dedicated office space, home-based businesses don’t lend themselves especially well toward visits from current or potential customers, and meeting at the local diner isn’t always the best solution. Your neighbors might not appreciate the traffic, either. Depending on what type of business you’ve got, zoning laws may actually prohibit you from running it out of your home. Make sure you’re up on all the local rules and regulations.
You’re in charge. While being accountable only to yourself is a wonderful thing, it also requires great dedication, motivation and self-discipline. If you are the type of worker who thrives on feedback and the energy of others, working at home can be quite challenging. You’ll also need to be able to say no to the distractions of your surroundings, like the big-screen TV in the den or the pool in the backyard. It’s tougher to get started and easier to procrastinate when working at home.
One important part of effective digital marketing is identifying and understanding your audience, which requires an investment of time and money on data and analytics tools. The benefit of niche marketing is that because you are confined to a specific person and a specific need, less focus is required on digging into your data to understand and keep up with their needs. You will also be doing less trial and error with your methods, which also can be resource-heavy.
Once you have a match between niche and product, test-market it. “Give people an opportunity to buy your product or service—not just theoretically but actually putting it out there,” Falkenstein suggests. This can be done by offering samples, such as a free mini-seminar or a sample copy of your newsletter. The test shouldn’t cost you a lot of money: “If you spend huge amounts of money on the initial market test, you're probably doing it wrong,” she says.