Make Money Online in a Legit and Sustainable Way

You are here probably because:

  • You want to find out how you can make money online in a legal and sustainable way.
  • You already have an online business, but it is not working out well for you. You have heard that many people are having huge incomes online, and you want to do the same thing, but you don’t know how.

No matter which group you are a member of, you are going to benefit from this article, although it is a long one. If you feel that you already know some parts, you may want to scan and skip them.

First of all, I would like to thank you for the privilege and the opportunity to share with you the little I know about Online Marketing. Let’s get started.

In this section, we are going to discuss what it really means to be an Internet Marketer, and what it involves. If you already know this, you can skip this part.

Online Marketing, or Internet Marketing, is a combination of certain skill set and mindset.

As far as the skill set is concerned, the following points are of great importance:

  • Basic Knowledge of computers and the Internet

If you already know how to send and reply to emails, how to search on the Internet, and how to work with simple social media web sites like Facebook, you already know this. Even if you don’t have a good understanding of them, they are simple learnable skills that anyone can learn.

  • Article Marketing

Writing articles is a great way to promote your online business, and to let people know who you are, and what you do. What you are reading right now is actually an article. You write your articles and publish them to “Article Directories” where they are published after they have been read and approved by the mediators. Article Directories usually publish your articles for free, but there are paid services as well, where you get special services like immediate article publishing or the like. Article Directories publish your articles and make them searchable by different search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.

Publishing articles places you as an authority in your own industry, and makes it very easy for others to find you on the Internet.

Article Marketing is an integral part of every online business. Like the many marketing strategies you are going to be introduced to shortly, you are going to do it for a while when you start your business. However, you might decide later that you want to outsource it, and concentrate on other ones. Once you have got your business up and running, you can decide for yourself which one you are good at and like, and which one you want to outsource.

  • Video Marketing

Video marketing is one the most powerful ways to promote your online business, and place yourself as an authority in your own industry. It is one of the many ways you can connect with your audience, educate them, and let them know who you, and what you do, and how you could help them.

It is very simple to include it as a part of your marketing strategy.

Have you ever talked to the members of your family, or to your friends about one of your experiences, or have you ever talked to your spouse about how your day was? I am sure you have. It is that simple, except in the beginning, you may be afraid of the camera, but over time, and as a result of the education that you obtain from your sponsor or the company that you join, it becomes easier and easier for you until you get to the point where the camera becomes your friend.

Certain aspects of this marketing strategy can be outsourced, but not the whole part, since the video is usually about promoting “you” more than anything else.

  • Classifieds Marketing

You have always seen the classifieds section in the newspaper. Nowadays, the offline press is going through some changes, and most of the newspapers are being taken online. Along with the emergence of online newspapers, “Classified Directories” have grown a lot.

People advertise online, and there are many advantages to this method as compared to the offline one. The advertisements are easily searchable, and they could be made local, national, and international. Your business gets a lot of exposure through the online method, and it is free in most cases unless you want your ad to be shown on top of others’ ads.

If you can sell your old bicycle to your friend, you already know a lot about this. When it comes to international business, there are some points you need to know so you get the best results.

You want to optimize your ads, and you could learn that from your sponsor, the company you join, or the many resources you could find online.

  • Forum Marketing

Forums are places or web sites on the Internet, where people can register themselves as members, and take part in the conversations specific to the forum that are of interest to them.

For example, Microsoft, as a part of their web site and their services to their customers, have a forum, where members can ask questions about the problems they have with products or services Microsoft offers. Someone has bought an operating system, and they cannot work with a specific part of it. They can post their questions on the forum, and the members that have already had that problem, and know the solution, post their answers.

Likewise, Internet Marketing has its own relevant forums, and members help each other with the different topics specific to their businesses.

Through forums marketers place themselves as authorities in their own fields of expertise, and build rapport with their potential customers. Your potential customers could be turned into an actual customer over time once they really trust you, and know who they are dealing with.

If you want to make money online, forum marketing must be a part of your marketing strategy. It could also be outsourced once your business has grown enough, so you can focus on a specific aspect of your business personally.

  • Social Media Marketing

Social media is one of the most important parts, if not the most important part, of any online marketing business.

They are powerful tools that enable you as an online marketer to let people know who you are as a person, and build relationships with people. They are great places to show people what you do on the Internet on a day-to-day basis, and what you personal life looks like depending on how much you choose to share.

Some of the social media web sites that are commonly used by Internet Marketers are Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Squidoo. There are many more, but these are the most important ones.

There are many ways to manage your social media accounts. They need to be maintained every day. Many online marketers today, use some automation tools since it can be quite overwhelming when your business grows in size and volume over time, and with it, so does the number of your online contacts. Some people, however, consider it unethical to use automation tools to manage social media.

As an online marketer who wants to make money online, social media is your virtual store on the Internet. Many people spam theirs with sales pitches, and business offers. People turn off when you pitch them on your business opportunity even if you have the best in the world. If you do your job right, you do not have to pitch anybody on anything. People will ask you voluntarily about your business opportunity, and will want to join.

  • Blogging

Blogs or weblogs are personal web sites where people write on different subjects. Some blogs are personal, some business-related, and some maintained by companies.

Blogging is an essential part of online marketing. Some of the advantages of blogs are as follows:

  1. Blogs are easy to update. They usually have a simple graphical user interface, which is the software the blog user works with, through which the user updates the content every day. Web sites, on the other hand, need the user to have some knowledge of HTML, CSS, etc. to update the web site content.
  2. You can easily rank for your name, or your blog itself, in the search engine results, much more easier than you can for web sites.
  3. Blogs are great tools for building relationships, and they come in handy as compared to web sites.

Blogging must be an integral part of your online business if you want to make money online.

  • SEO Marketing

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. As an Internet marketer or entrepreneur, you want to reach out to as many people as you can. How would you do that?

Normally, whatever tools you use in your promotional campaigns, you can reach out to a specific number of people every day as a result of your own direct efforts. You want to be easily found by those who search for what you present as a business opportunity, or a solution to one of their problems on the Internet.

Through SEO Marketing, you would learn over time how to rank for your name, web log, company name, web site, or anything related to you on the Internet. You could learn this skill from the company you work with, if they have a good education platform, or from the many different sources on the Internet. But the problem with the sources on the Internet is that, since you do not know much about the subject, at least when you start out, you could easily pay a lot of money for any course that would not serve your real needs and waste your time. Internet is full of courses, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. that claim to make you a millionaire over night. There may be nothing wrong with their products or services, but the responsibility lies within you to choose the right one for yourself.

This Marketing strategy must be on the top of your agenda if you are really serious about making money online. You also could outsource it depending on your own circumstances.

  • People Strategy

Probably the most important part of every business is how you deal with your customers, how you talk to them, how they see you as a person, and how much you try to solve their problems, rather than pushing your business opportunity on them.

When you want to make money online, you either have to offer a service or sell a product that people ask for. The product could be yours, and part of what you sell in your brick and mortar business, or someone else’s.

If you do not have a product of your own to promote, you will have to promote some other product primarily related to another company and get paid commissions on your sales based on your agreement with the company you work with.

Internet Marketing is usually done in two ways:

  1. Some already have brick and mortar businesses, and want to promote their products or services online, so they get higher exposures in the market, and have more profits.
  2. Some, on the other hand, promote some company’s products or services and get paid commissions on their sales.

As far as the members of the second group are concerned, they usually complain about how hard it is to sell online, or they believe that they are not good at selling.

When you have a close look at successful online marketers, or the leader in this industry, they really do not sell anything. They never pitch anyone on their business opportunities. Others simply approach them and want to buy from them. People want to buy from them because they believe buying what they preach leads them to having what leaders have. People actually want to have what leaders have, otherwise nobody ever likes to buy anything if it does not lead to solving some problems of theirs.

Any business you do, online or offline, you will be successful if you are a leader in that industry. Leadership is learnable by anyone like any other skill, and it would say that the most important skill that your company teaches you must be leadership.

Well, these are some of the activities that you would be doing on a day-to-day basis as an Internet Marketer if you want to make money online. Like I said before, any of them is a learnable skill, and anyone can learn them. It is very important that you choose the right company, so you can make sure you will add to your tool box as you go along. If you can sacrifice your long term success and brighter future for some get rich quick techniques that might work today, but definitely no longer tomorrow, you will acquire skills that no matter where you go, or whatever industry you want to work in, they come in handy and sometime quite impressing.

Online Marketing is an interesting journey where you need to learn and update yourself every single day, and there is no end to learning since the Internet is constantly changing. Also you should be proactive and anticipate change, so you are not surprised when the strategy you worked so hard to find to facilitate that aspect of your business stops working the next morning you turn on your computer.

Now if you think that doing all or most of the above meets your values regarding your ideal occupation or career, keep reading.

You do realize that you cannot be good at what you do not love, and you cannot make much money off of what you are not good at.

Now that you have made sure this business really suites your interests and values, you can now choose the company you want to work with.

There are many companies that apparently offer the same concept, most of which claim to be the best one on earth. Despite the fact that it really does not matter much where you work, as much as it matters who you are as a person, but the choice of your company and as a result of which the people you will be working with, really helps you become the kind of person you want to be somewhere down the road, and have the kind of income you want to have. You may want to consider the following points regarding the choice of your company:

  • Do not choose the companies that promise to make you rich quick without not much effort on your part, and in a short amount of time.

Choose the company that shows you the way how to create your own success rather than doing it for you through some kind of magic or unusual investment. Always keep in mind that there is no shortcut to success, and the only way is hard work. Once you have earned the kind of success that you want, nobody can take it away from you, since you have earned it.

  • Choose the company that offers great online marketing education.

The education that your company offers is extremely important. You want to choose the company that both offers good education for marketing, be it online or offline, and also the online implication of these marketing concepts through the free and paid online tools that are at your disposal on the Internet.

Both the parts are equally important. Most people fail over and over again at online marketing for the simple fact that they are not good at marketing in the first place. When you do not know the underlying and fundamental concepts of marketing, you will not be successful whether you do it online or offline.

Some people are good at marketing, but do not know how to choose their words in different situations. You need to know when to talk, when not to talk, when to listen intently, and how to choose your words so you get what you want from different people. Even if you intend to give them something, you will not be able to do so, if you do not know how to make them understand that they will be benefited if they have what you have to offer. Such matters are all around us in our day-to-day lives every day. It is just that those who know how to behave in different situations accordingly, have better lives and better incomes.

Some though, are good at the marketing part, but do not know how to use their marketing skills on an online platform.

All the different parts combined will make a good online marketer, and you could get all that if the company that you join has that education platform in place.

  • Choose the company that offers great community support.

The community you socialize with. or your peer group, is extremely important. You must have heard it said that your income equals the average income of the ten people you socialize with the most.

Ideally the online marketing community members get on online calls and webinars on a day-to-day basis, and let each other know about what they have been doing, what works, and what does not work.

Another advantage of a good community is that it gives you an entrepreneurial mindset, and so gives you the winning edge.

I could not emphasize more on the importance of your community since my mindset has changed a lot as a result of the community I have been socializing with during the past few months. I have become so positive, and look at things in a totally different way. I tend to see the positive side of every situation, and guess what, the positive side shows up most of the time.

Choose your community and the people you socialize with, with utmost care.

  • Make sure that first you really understand what it is that you are going to promote as the product or service of the company, and then make sure that you really believe people could be benefited from the product or service that you promote.

Human beings do not really try for something that they do not believe in on a very deep level. If you really believe something is worthwhile, you give it your all. But if not so, you may hang on to it when it is not so hard to do so, but when it get a bit hard to save it, you give up, since you do not really believe it worth your while.

If you really believe that the product or service you represent could really benefit others, you give it your all. You will try your best to convince others that they would be benefited if they bought it. And when people realize that you really believe in what you say, and see you as a person with integrity, they will want to buy from you.

If you look at marketing or simply selling on a deeper level, you will realize that people do not really buy your product; they buy “you”

That is where the term “branding” comes into play. Branding simply means how you let others to see you. It means what images or memories combined are represented on people’s minds when they hear your name, or any other title they know you by. They might know you by the title, “the bank teller”, but then what follows after somebody says “the bank teller”, really matters, how you have branded yourself in people’s eyes and minds. So you want to brand yourself shortly as a leader, be it in your business, or your personal life, so your success is guaranteed.

Another important point to be noted is that you cannot advertise a product online or offline very successfully, that has already been all over the market for a while. You would need to make a lot of efforts and invest a lot of time. That simply does not make much sense. So you want to find your niche market, and concentrate on something with great marketing potential, that preferably has not been tapped into much before.

Today there are soaps, lotions, potions, pills, juices, vitamin pills, and many such products that have saturated the market. Moreover, when you decide to market such products, there is not much potential for earning commissions on them, since they are usually very inexpensive in the first place.

There are some products though that are never outdated. A product that helps people improve the quality of their live never loses its marketing potentiality. Educational programs, wealth building strategies, etc. are good examples of this category.

So you want to choose a product that you really believe is worth your time to work on, and has not been advertised by many people before.

Think of it this way. What would you choose to promote online or offline, if you knew you would not be paid for it? Answer this question, and start your business.

  • Choose a company or business model that pays you both commissions on your sales as well as residual income on your downline.

There are many companies and business models on the Internet with many being added to them every single day, each of which having their own rules and regulations. You need to comply with all their rules when you want to join their business opportunity. Today there is no security with almost any of the business opportunities on the Internet. Some though, have gained a good reputation over time.

To be on the safe side, you want to choose a company that pays you high value commissions on your sales, and a residual income on the sales made by your downline. Your downline are those people who sign up under you, or join your business opportunity. This way you can make sure that you will have your monthly earnings, and once you have built up your downline, you will not have to put in as much efforts to have a monthly income. Of course, there will be some people all the time that drop out, for many reasons, and the portion of your residual income that depended on them, drains out.

So after a while, you will find yourself only making up for those who drop out, and replacing them with new applicants, and of course making a few sales a month.

To be successful online, you should keep yourself updated all the time, and act as an information center, so people want to come back to your web site or blog over and over again, learn from you, and lead you wherever you go.

  • Choose a company that helps you grow as a person, and improve your leadership qualities.

You must have heard it said that wise people do not work for money; they work for learning.

If the community you work with helps you grow as a leader, you will be a leader no matter where you go, and people will want to follow you.

Maybe the most important factor to consider when choosing a business opportunity is to decide whether it is going to help you learn and grow or not. Otherwise, wherever you work, you are going to earn enough money to take care of your expenses. Money is definitely very important in our lives, but when are we going to work on the other aspects of our lives?

The point is that when you take care of certain aspects of your life, that in most cases are ignored by most of us, money will automatically flow in.

Would you rather be a person who has enough money, and is a leader, so people want to follow him, buy from him, learn from him, and socialize with him, or the person who just has the money, but none of the other qualities?

You do realize that money is actually a by-product of the good qualities a person has. More often than not, you cannot be rich without having those qualities first. There are however some cases where people are rich, but not wealthy. Being rich is far different from being wealthy. “Being rich” is only about having money. “Being wealthy” on the other hand, means that the person is “rich”, and has the good qualities as well. And you do know what someone’s life looks like when they have a lot of money, but are not wealthy. Don’t you?

Okay, now you have decided that online marketing is the right occupation for you, have chosen the right company, and joined the company. How are things going for you? Are you making any sales? Are you happy with what you have?

Well, things are a little bit hard during the first few months, but once you adjust to your new working conditions, understand the whole system you are working with, and get the big picture, you will be okay.

But this is the most important and critical part of your journey, once you have made it through the first few months.

Usually only 3% of Internet Marketers succeed and thrive, and those are the ones who just hang in there until they attain their desired results.

You see, you need some time in the beginning to learn any new system you start working with, and understand it, be able to manage yourself in time, focus on what you need to do, and not be carried away by the many web sites and different software you come across along the way.

You also need to give people some time to know you on the Internet, trust you, and start working with you.

So basically you need to work hard upfront and reap the rewards later on.

Most people get discouraged once they have done almost whatever they needed to do to succeed. Once they are almost there, they quit. Don’t let this happen to you.

On the other hand, some really give their all, but still do not succeed, and keep going from one system to another, or one company to another, but they never make it.

The key to success here is to give your all, but under the supervision of a tested proven system. In most cases, knowing what not to do is much more important than knowing what to do. Your time, capital, and all the other resources are limited, and without a good, step-by-step business plan you are not going to get anywhere. When you have a tested proven system, one that has already worked well for many people like you, it is almost impossible to fail.

This article was a little bit long, but I wanted to publish a complete guide to online marketing, as I knew it, for those who have always thought of starting it, but never have, since they did not know what they would be getting into.

There are times in our lives that there is something within us all the time inspiring us to take action on something. Most of the time we do not listen to that voice, and it fades away after a while. We really do not know what our lives would look like today if we had listened to the inner voice within us, talking to and directing us all the time.

On the other hand, sometimes our minds do not really get started on something until we proactively take action on them.

Always remind yourself that there is nothing in the world you cannot do if you set your mind to it.

I would like to thank you for taking the time and reading through this long article, and I hope it has added something to what you already knew. If so, I have achieved my objective.

Go through the article again, if you feel you need to. If you have any doubts about anything that has been discussed here, you are more than welcome to contact me.

If you feel that this is the right business for the kind of person that you are, go ahead and take action now. The timing could never be any better than NOW. You are never going to figure it all out before you get involved and get your feet wet. Take the first step in faith NOW, and the rest of the way will be shown to you.

Never stop dreaming and believing in yourself! Thank you for your attention.

Bringing a Product to Market

Bringing a product to market can be a very frustrating process. It is one that does not happen mystically or by chance. Instead, successful entrepreneurs follow certain timeless principles that enable them to make their goals a reality. Fortunately, these principles can be broken down into specific steps that you can adapt to your own product launching efforts. In fact, there are 9 of them.

In this article, we will examine each of these 9 steps in detail. By understanding these steps inside and out, you will be better positioned to launch your product no matter where in the process you happen to be. Feel free to skip to the stage of product development or launch that you happen to be in.

Step 1: Thinking of an idea

Brainstorming invention ideas can feel like a strange, mystical process. Much of this stems from the way people tend to think about ideas. If you have ever heard someone say “You can’t think of great ideas. They just come to you”, you know what this means. We are taught that good ideas spontaneously pour into us, and we need the good sense to act on them if and when they do. Venture capitalist Paul Graham addresses this in his article “Ideas For Startups”

“If coming up with an idea for a startup equals coming up with a million dollar idea, then of course it’s going to seem hard. Too hard to bother trying. Our instincts tell us something so valuable would not be just lying around for anyone to discover.”

The problem with this line of thinking, as Paul later explains, is that ideas in and of themselves are not what generates millions of dollars. The reason we feel so much internal resistance to the prospect of actively generating ideas is that we figure “If there was a good idea, someone else would’ve had it already.” In fact, this is the wrong way to look at ideas. Generating ideas is an active (and active-minded) process. What really makes ideas pay is how they are executed, which is something you can control considerably. But it does, of course, start with the idea.

So if it is possible to generate ideas, how is it done? One good way to generate ideas is to limit your thinking to fields you like, or know exceptionally well. This limits the people you are competing against to those with your level of passion and expertise.

What you really want to do is turn off the self-censorship instinct that all of us have as human beings. When we come up with ideas or new thoughts, we tend to think “No, that’s stupid” just because we have not already heard it elsewhere. Instead, try submitting your idea to a few minutes of rational scrutiny before discarding it as worthless. Think it through from top to bottom. Would I buy this? If not, why? What might my objections be? Can they be overcome? How? The further you get into this process, the more value your idea probably has. Above all, just let the ideas flow. You will separate the wheat from the chaff in step two.

Step 2: Decide if your idea is worth pursuing.

There’s nothing like the enthusiasm one feels during a proverbial “I’ve got it!” moment. However, you still need to step back and reflect soberly on whether your idea is worth pursuing. Here are some things to consider in doing this.

Determine how well it will work.

How well will your idea work in practice? Will it work well enough to replace what people in this field already use? One easy way to determine this is to actively work in the field you envision your product being used for. This will give you a first hand glimpse into the current reality of what’s out there and let you tangibly see how your creation would improve it. If that’s not possible, find someone you trust in that field and bounce your idea off of them for feedback.

Who wants it?

There’s nothing worse than wasting weeks, months, or even years theorizing about a creation that’s “gonna be soooo great!” only to discover that no specific segment of customers truly wants it. To avoid this nightmare scenario, tell others about your idea. Ask them if and in what way it would truly improve their lives. The trick here is asking people who don’t know you very well. They are more likely to be honest instead of preoccupied with not hurting your feelings.

How can it be made?

Another common pitfall is glossing over the messy particulars of how something will be made. In the euphoria of brainstorming, your mind is naturally drawn to the sexy aspects of invention, such as the huge market waiting to be capitalized or your pitch to investors. Instead, force yourself to focus on exactly what it will take to bring your patent idea to life. How can it be made? What materials are needed? What types of skills are necessary to put it all together? Having firm answers to these questions turns you from dreamer into doer.

If your idea can withstand this type of analysis, you are ready for step three.

Step 3: Creating an inventor’s logbook.

Documenting new ideas is not just good practice. It may be absolutely critical if you intend on getting a patent for something and bringing it to market. So how do you go about keeping good records?

The answer is something called a logbook. A logbook is essentially an inventor’s journal. It is where the inventor keeps track of his progress and dates each step. A logbook proves that you came up with your idea at a certain date and displayed due diligence in pursuing it. However, there are some definite standards you should adhere to when keeping a logbook. This will help ensure that your documentation looks legitimate to patent examiners.

1. You should start your logbook as soon as you think of an idea. Write down detailed records of key concepts, test results, and anything else having to do with the creation of your idea. This is the type of material that belongs in a logbook.

2. While there are pre-made logbooks for sale, you can easily make your own. Be sure to use a bound notebook, however, and not a loose-leaf. The reason is that bound notebooks make it hard to conceal the fact that pages were added or taken out.

3. Number each page consecutively. This establishes that the progress you made on your idea took place in a sequential order that anyone with common sense can observe. When one notebook is full, begin a new one and specify that this notebook is a continuation of the last one. There should be no visible gaps in your record keeping.

4. Each entry you write should be signed and dated by you and anyone else who participated in that step of the invention process. If at all possible, get a notary public to sign as well.

5. Give each entry a header with information about what is contained in it. For example, the date, subject, number of participants, witnesses, etc.

6. Include records of everything you do. When in doubt, assume that it is best to include it. Do not just include successful test results, for example. If you exclude negative findings or tests, the patent examiner may decide that you “cherry-picked” only the good stuff and reject your application.

7. Any and all other participants in the invention process need to have their roles disclosed. The importance of this convention cannot be stressed enough. If you omit an inventor’s name from an invention he helped create, it is considered fraud.

8. Any loose materials like drawings, photos, or sketches should be signed, dated, and cross-referenced to the notebook entry they pertain to. It is best to tape or staple this material to the notebook entries in question.

Follow these tips, and your documentation will be airtight and at the ready, should a dispute ever arise.

Step 4: Identify a target market.

When you set out to bring a product to market, it’s essential to know which market you are targeting. Many new entrepreneurs make the mistake of shooting for a very broad segment of the population. Their logic is that the more people they target, the more chances they have to make sales. In reality, however, it rarely works this way. In fact, you want to target as narrow a segment as you possibly can. This makes the people you target more likely to buy, and enables you to do more specific market research in your efforts.

Who is your ideal customer? What are their buying behaviors? Is your product seasonal, or do people typically buy it each and every month? The importance of scoping out the market cannot be stressed enough, as it will determine your distribution plans, price structure, and other important factors.

Ultimately, you will craft a marketing plan based on your target market. That is somewhat beyond the scope of this article, but here is a sample marketing plan. Consult it for details on what types of forecasts you should be setting and how to set them.


Once you have thought these questions through and come up with some plausible answers, proceed to step 5.

Step 5: Research that market.

Once you have identified your target market, the next step is to research it.

In this phase, you want to immerse yourself in trade journals, spec sheets, and periodicals about the industry your patent pertains to. You want to discover the prices of various commodities in the market that you will traffic in, the supply and demand patterns that determine the flow of the market. The goal of all this fact-finding is answering the following questions:

1. Who are my customers? (age, sex, income, etc.)

2. Where are they and how can I reach them? (what magazines/newspapers do they read?)

3. What quantity (and quality) do they want? (are there surveys that gather this data?)

4. What is the best time to sell? (Seasonal, yearly, etc.)

Many trade journals and industry sources can be accessed via the Internet. Yahoo, for example, offers an abundance of such material segmented by industry. Simply click the industry you want to research (law, jewelry, automotive, etc.) and you can browse a list of sources pertaining to them.


Step 6: Re-evaluate/improve your product based on that research.

To paraphrase Prussian Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke, “no product survives first contact with reality.” If you are like most entrepreneurs, picking a target market and researching it has given you some ideas to improve your product. Here are some things you can tinker with, based on what you learned?

* Product packaging

* Pricing

* Distribution (where you’ll sell it)

* The name

* Just about anything else open to your control

Once you have made the improvements you see fit, head to step 7 — the prototype!

Step 7: Create a prototype.

Creating a prototype is one of the most rewarding phases of the invention process. It is that fateful day when all your hopes, dreams, planning, and research culminate in a working model. By this point, you are ready to whip up that prototype for display to investors, business partners, or the patent office (see next step.) Keep in mind that your prototype does not have to use the same materials, or look exactly like your finished product ultimately will. It just has to approximate what you have in mind and demonstrate that you are in fact working on it.

Once you have a prototype up and running, you can proceed to step 8.

Step 8: Secure a patent.

In the understandable excitement and inspirational fire of creation, many inventors rush into the patent process without doing their homework. Unfortunately, their zeal to push forward often comes back to haunt them in the form of longer wait times, higher fees, and more work that could have been avoided with proper planning.

One of the biggest mistakes many inventors make is filing a non-provisional patent right away. A non-provisional patent is “the real patent.” To file for one, you need to fill out a bevy of legal forms, include sketches and drawings of your invention, and pay hefty fees. If your application is approved, you are granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

While many inventors will one day need to do this, few of them need to do it immediately. Instead, there is another equally safe but less expensive way to go: the $100 provisional patent application. In a provisional patent application, you do not file a formal patent claim, oath, or any disclosure statements about your invention. But what a provisional patent will do is lock in your application date and give you “patent pending” status.

If you have ever seen “patent pending” on product packaging or commercials, it is because the company in question filed a provisional patent application with the Patent and Trademark Office. It is actually unlawful to use “patent pending” unless you have done this.

What this means in layman’s terms is that you can begin to market your invention and gauge how much interest (if any) there is before deciding to file for a non-provisional patent. In the meantime, you can market your invention with the full rights and protections of a non-provisional patent. If you have ever seen “patent pending” on product packaging or commercials, it is because the company in question filed a provisional patent application with the Patent and Trademark Office.

If you are smart and work quickly, you can use that 12 month period to hustle your idea and generate interest in it. By the end of that time you should have a very good idea of whether it is worth applying for a non-provisional patent.

Step 9: Decide on your track

There are several “tracks” you can take to bring your product to the marketplace.

One track is to become an “outsource entrepreneur.” In this way, you essentially become a hired gun. You, the inventor, perform the tasks of researching and developing the product. Then, you “outsource” the manufacturing and marketing to partners with money. Those partners will develop, market, and fund the startup costs. In return for their greater efforts, they will receive a greater return. The benefit to you, however, is that this is one of the quickest ways to bring a product to market and exit with cash in hand. If you are a serial inventor, this can be a great way to build up some cash and move on from one idea to the next.

A second track open to you is licensing or selling your patent outright. Very simply, licensing is when another company takes over your new product idea and cuts you in on the sales via royalties. While selling a patent is fairly self explanatory on the surface, you should seek consultation from a lawyer prior to finalizing an agreement to ensure all legal documents are in place. Licensees can be manufacturers, marketers, or basically anyone who wants to carry your product into the market and pay you for the right to do so. Licensing arrangements are also flexible; some licensees take on all the risk, some take on less. However, most companies will only license a product if they are more or less sure it will succeed. Therefore, it is up to you to convince them of your product’s prospects.

The disadvantage of licensing is that the earning potential is a bit lower than outsourcing, but the tremendous upside is that once you license a product you basically have no more responsibility to the product.

The other track is the most risky, and thusly the most potentially rewarding: starting your own company. In this case, you assume full responsibility: you make the product, you price the product, you get the product online or on store shelves, you handle the accounting, you pay the taxes, you own the process from start to finish. For more information on the steps involved, including writing a business plan and finding a manufacturer, view our other articles.

This is by far the most difficult process and many people rightfully so decide before hand to opt for sales or licensing agreements. However, if you do decide to move forward and create a business (highest reward and most risk) around your intellectual property you want to ensure that you hire on top talent. Failing to do so can lead to years of problems and ongoing stress. It’s far better to invest in something you believe in and share some of the pie to increase your chances of building a successful company than to go it alone and take arrows.

By keeping these 9 steps in mind, you can increase the likelihood of success in bringing your product to market with confidence and profitability.

Sign up for our newsletter today and receive free tips monthly.

4 Great Online Business Ideas That Are Easy To Start

Good business ideas come from recognizing a good sized market of customers who want to buy a product or service that you are selling. There are plenty of viable business ideas on the internet. The start up costs of an online business are significantly less than a conventional physical business and you can easily expand your business beyond the limits of your physical location. Here are 4 online business ideas to consider.

1. Create Your Own Digital Information Product.

The internet is used to find information and even though there is a great deal of information online provided for free, it doesn’t always provide the details that you need. Sometimes it is even completely wrong. People are willing to pay for information that they can get instantly and is useful and beneficial to them. A digital information product, like an eBook, report or video course can be downloaded instantly when somebody buys it. The subject of your information product can be about anything that you’re knowledgeable about or it can be something that you become knowledgeable about by research. You can even get somebody else to write it for you.

2. Sell Other Peoples’ Products.

You can use the good business ideas of other people and sell their products online as an affiliate. Product designers pay out commissions to affiliates for the sales that they bring in for their product. It’s a win-win situation. The affiliate does not have to worry about product development, payment methods, product delivery or customer service. The product creator gets their marketing done for them by their affiliates and pays nothing if the affiliate does not sell anything.

3. Freelance Your Services Online.

The online world provides the widest possible market for selling your particular set of skills or services. Everyone from college graduates to people with long professional careers can find projects online where they can earn an income. Online freelance websites like Elance and oDesk have thousands of customers looking for writers, graphic designers, translators, web designers, marketing and sales staff, legal and financial professionals and more.

4. Develop A Membership Website.

This is where you get paid to pass your knowledge onto others. It is no different to being a consultant in the traditional offline world, where you help and advise clients with your business knowledge. Due to the reach of the internet and modern communication technology, an online membership website allows you to have customers from all over the world. Membership websites make great internet based business ideas because they provide a recurring income every month for a long as your members remain within your program.