Saturday, June 07, 2008

Teach your teens to make money at home this summer... instead of flipping burgers.

Ok, so summer is here and schools across America are getting out for the summer. The question on the mind of every teenager right now (and most parents of teenagers) is - How can I make money this summer?

Of course there are the old standbys - retail, foodservice, babysitting, life guarding. I'm not going to knock any of those since our economy needs those kinds of positions filled but I would like to expand your horizons of thinking a bit before you settle for one of those.

What would I like you to think about is - residual income. A 15 year old has, on average, 3 years left before they have to head off to college or graduate high school and join the "real world". Those 3 years are perfect for building an online ecommerce business or engaging in any number of residual building enterprises.

First, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of residual income, let me give you some pointers and warnings. Residual income is slow money - i.e. income that comes in over a period of time based on continual sales efforts. Anyone who talks about making money fast is just going to end up taking money out of your pocket and putting it in theirs. The beauty of residual sales is the additive effects of previous efforts. So while the first few months might leave you with little to show for your efforts, the combined effects of continued effort plus the passage of time will yield tremendous rewards.

Some of the greatest examples of residual income in today's market come from the blogging world. A popular blog with Simple Google Ads plus the occasional sponsored post can yield can yield several thousands of dollars a month in free cash flow.

What most people forget when they're embarking on the journey of residual income is the fact that it takes time to build a base from which you can start generating the level of income you might want. For a mom or dad with starving kids who need to eat right now, this can be a challenge mentally. For a teenager, however, this is perfect since they're still within their parent's grace zone and don't have the pressure of a mortgage looming every month. This breathing room means they can start now and be well in their way to fully supporting themselves through college once they get there (instead of needing to dip back into mommy and daddy's wallets for laundry money).

Now, once they have decided to start blogging, creating commerce websites or promoting products they will need something to promote and someone who will actually pay them when they make a sale. There are quite a few agent/commission programs out there such as Commission Junction, Element 5, etc. Personally, I favor Commission River.

Commission River was created by the same guys who launched Telarus back in 1999. They have a known track record of success and some of the Telarus agents make high-six figure incomes every year from their sales efforts. Commission River charges no fees to join their program and pays out commission on a monthly basis as it is accrued.

Don't get swayed by the big dollar figures just yet. Those large incomes require a lot of work - and something more akin to a full-time job than a summer internship with a part-time job during the school year. That said, there is no reason a student can't be making a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars a month on the side with little effort compared to a traditional part-time job. Even better, they can earn that money working from home - where their parents can keep an eye on exactly what they're getting into.

So what are the steps you need to take to get going with Commission River (or any other type of residual program)?
  1. Sign up for the program. Here's the link to sign up for Commission River.

  2. Get a blog. I personally like Blogger but there are lots of others.

  3. Find products that you can promote. Things like DSL, credit cards, home security, cell phones, wireless data cards, enterprise T1s, etc. Chose 1 fast sell product (like cell phones or credit cards) and 1 slow sell product (like T1s). (Fast sell products pay fast cash but less of it. Slow sell products take longer to sell one of but pay much more money over time.)

  4. Start blogging. Talk about personal stories, friends, things you've seen. Comment on the news, current events, local interest items. Anything you can write about, someone will want to read. In the midst of your blogging, when appropriate within context, mention on the of the products of services you have in your bucket for promotions. For example, if you get a new cell phone, link to the cell phone sale page that matches what you bought. That way others can get what you have or compare it to what they might have been looking for.

  5. Create a website. Start small... it doesn't have to be fancy. Use something like Google Pages, SquareSpace or 1&1 Webbuilder. Your goal is not to out do all the professional web designers out there. Instead your goal is to start providing a repository of useful information you have collected, cross promote your blog postings, and give you more space to write feature articles about things you're interested in.

  6. Market, market, market. Become active on Facebook, MySpace, Pownce, Twitter, etc. And be sure your profiles and pages link to your blog and website. Make up some simple business cards for yourself with your URLs on them. Put your URLs in your email signature. Your goal is to be the person someone thinks of when they need something so instead of going to Google they go to your website first.

  7. Have patience. Remember this is slow money. It builds over time. You are running a marathon here, not a sprint. So don't wear yourself out at the beginning. Allocate a certain number of hours each week and stick to it. If you have 20 hours a week to work on it, always put in your 20 hours. Treat it just as if you were clocking in and out at a "real" job. Keep in mind your goal is 2 years down the road... that's when you start getting those bigger checks and laughing to yourself about how little work it took to make that much money.
Good luck and happy promoting!