Starting a business online is easier than you think. Succeeding in one is another story, of course. First of all, you need a product or service, which had better be something that people want. In my experience, what people want most is to make money. Anything that helps them make money is a good product. Second, you need a way of collecting money and delivering the product or providing the service in return for payment. Third, you need to get visibility.
Before we go any further, I must confess that this post is a pitch for my own Internet business. But my product is something that will help you make money, not in that Internet-get-rich-quick sort of way, more as a tool that you can use in your own Internet business to make money.
The first product I developed was an AdSense plugin, which helps bloggers insert Google AdSense ads in their posts, which is the bloggers’ bread and butter. Since it is a product that helped people make money, it made me more money that I expected. The whole process of developing it and selling it made me appreciate some secrets about money. It also prompted me to develop my own tool for selling digital goods (which is what a program or a WordPress plugin is). It is about this tool (EZ PayPal) that I want to talk about here.
If you have some sort of digital goods (like an eBook, a program, an image, a song, an article — anything that can be downloaded) or a digital service (like access to your website, a link on your site, regular newsletters — anything that can be subscribed to), you will need a tool like EZ PayPal to manage the transaction. In order to understand why, you just need to look at a typical purchase. Let’s say you have an eBook. You advertise it somewhere and a buyer purchases a copy of it using PayPal. You will get a notification from PayPal in the form of a receipt email. You then reply to the email with a copy of your eBook, and the transaction is complete. Of course, given that emails can be spoofed, you will probably have to logon to your PayPal account to ensure that the money from the buyer has indeed come in.
This process will work fine if you sell one book every couple of days or so. What happens if you have tens or hundreds of sales a day? You will need a solution that scales, which is where EZ PayPal comes in. (The use of that “scale” bus word is sure to make a sale, they tell me). It does all these for you automatically, unattended. When your buyer pays for your product, EZ PayPal gets a notification, and sends an automatic (but beautifully designed) email to the buyer with a download link. It also shows a “return” page where the buyer can download the product from. The email is a fallback.
Subscriptions are even more process intensive, if you were to handle their workflow by hand. You will have to set reminders, monitor the subscription status and take appropriate actions. Imagine you sell a link on your website to an advertiser on a monthly basis. If he cancels it after some time, you will have to remove the link. Not a big deal if you have one site and one link sale a year. But if you have multiple sites, selling links and banners at varying rates, it will soon become unmanageable. You will need a tool like EZ PayPal (along with, say, Easy Text Links).
If that is all that EZ PayPal did, it may be useful, but not that remarkable. What makes it a real Internet business tool is the other features it offers. For instance, it keeps track of your sales, your product versions and gives you business insights in the form of charts so that you can see what is selling well, what needs more advertising etc. It also gives you specialized tools to contact your buyers. Let’s say you want to contact all your customers who have bought version 8.03 of your program and notify them of a new feature. You can do that with EZ PayPal. In fact, the list of its features is so extensive that I cannot go through all of them here, but only point you to its own page.
The only point I want to highlight is that it is designed for my arty-farty friends out there, the ones who don’t want to know about the technical details of how things get done on a computer. They just want to sell their products with a minimum of fuss. Reliably. Day-in and day-out. Without having to even look at the email receipts. EZ PayPal can do just that. In fact, EZ PayPal made me an official PayPal partner.