Having an online business can give you many advantages. First, with an online business, you can sell to anyone in the world.
So even if you live in a small town in Malaysia, you can still sell to someone living in France.
This means that the income potential of an online business can be huge.
Though so, the biggest benefit of having an online business for most people can be the freedom that it gives them.
Since you don’t have to be there all the time to serve your customers, you don’t need to dress up and show up in an office for work if you don’t want to.
While most people dream of having an online business, very few succeed in creating one. But it’s not because they are not smart enough to create a successful online business. Most people are smart enough to create and run a successful online business.
So if that’s not the reason, then what is?
The real reason why people do not succeed in creating an online business is because they do not know how.
When most people think about making money online, they think of selling physical products.
But selling physical products is only one way to make money. There are many other ways people all around the world are making millions online.
In this post, we will explore four more ways you can start an online business in Malaysia.
Are you ready?
The Five Ways to Start an Online Business in Malaysia
Although there are many ways to start an online business, we will be looking at five of the most popular ones in Malaysia:
- Physical products
- Informational products
- Affiliate marketing
For each method, I will show you:
- How you can make money from the online business
- Examples of businesses making money using the method and
- How you can get started
Click on any of the links below to jump to the method:
Make Money Selling Physical Products Online
How you make money
You buy a product from a supplier at a cheaper price and then sell it online at a higher price. You keep the price difference as your rough profit.
For this method, you need to have some amount of capital to buy the products.
But even if you do not have capital, there is another way you can make money using by selling physical products. That method is dropshipping.
If you would like to know more about what is dropshipping, read my guide about making money using dropshipping:
How You Can Get Started
There are three ways to get started selling physical products online:
- Sell on online marketplaces like Lazada, 11Street and Shopee
- Create your own e-commerce website to sell your products
- Create a social media account on Instagram or Facebook to sell your products
Let’s look into each of these options:
1. Selling on online marketplaces
Online marketplaces are places where sellers can put their products up for sell. Examples: Lazada…
The biggest benefit of online marketplaces is that you do not need to create your own e-commerce website. Or marketing. Instead, it is done for you.
Online marketplaces are the best place to start for people with limited budgets.
If you are keen about selling on online marketplaces, read my guides on how to start selling on Lazada, 11Street and Shopee Malaysia:
2. Creating your own e-commerce website
A popular option for selling online is to create your own e-commerce website. But e-commerce websites can be expensive to create if you do not have the skills to do it yourself.
But even if you can create your own e-commerce website, you will still need to invest money in marketing your brand.
Selling using your own e-commerce website is an option for either people who can do marketing and website development themselves, or are willing and can afford to pay a team to do it for them.
If these do not sound like you, it might be better for you to start by selling on online marketplaces.
Have a look at the differences between selling on online marketplaces vs. selling on your own e-commerce website in my article below:
If you are keen to create your own e-commerce website, it is easy:
3. Sell on Social Media
If you are low on budget and can’t build an e-commerce website or not interested in selling on marketplaces, you can look into the option of selling on social media.
The good news is that 33% of Malaysians buy on social media. This means that even if you do not have an e-commerce website, you can still make money by selling on Facebook or Instagram.
This process of selling through social media is known as social commerce. Learn more about selling through social commerce here:
Make Money Selling Informational Products (e-books, online courses etc)
How You Make Money
You make money by selling digital materials like e-books and online courses. People buy these materials from you because they want to learn a new skill.
The biggest benefit of selling informational products online is that you only have to create the material once. Then, you can re-sell the material over and over again.
Although you do not need to buy inventory, selling informational products online isn’t free.
You need to invest in creating good graphics that attract students. And if you are selling the materials on your own site, you will need to invest in marketing.
This method of making money is most suitable for people who enjoy teaching.
Selling online courses is one of the ways personal finance blogger KC Lau makes money.
How You Can Get Started
There are two ways to sell informational products online:
- Sell it on a course marketplace like Udemy or Skillshare
- Sell it on your own website
The benefit of selling on a marketplace is that you can focus on creating the course. The marketplace will take care of the rest.
The drawback of course marketplaces is that they usually take a high commission from instructors. Other than that, you will not be able to create your own designs on the website.
For some people, course marketplaces can be too limiting. For that, they can choose to instead sell on their courses on their own website.
The challenge of selling on your own website is that you need to set up the website, do the marketing and manage sales yourself.
The benefit of selling on your own website is that you can gain higher profits and gain a loyal following of fans who may buy from you again and again.
If you are someone who has thought about selling courses online, here are some guides to get you started:
Make Money Selling Software as a Service (SaaS)
How You Make Money
Out of all the methods of making money online, SaaS has one of highest potential to generate a high monthly income. When you create a software that people need every day, you can convince them to pay you a monthly fee for it.
When you have enough customers paying you a monthly fee for your services, your would have created a sustainable business.
Though there are many benefits of creating a SaaS business, SaaS businesses are often difficult and expensive to create.
However, if you manage to create a SaaS that customers love and recommend to their friends, your may be able to generate profits for many years.
Let’s look at some examples of how some Malaysian SaaS companies are making money:
Piktochart is a Penang-based SaaS company that provides an infographic builder. You can use Piktochart to make graphics like this one:
Piktochart allows anyone to create beautiful infographics and presentations. There are many templates and graphics to choose from for you to put together a professional and attractive looking infographic or presentation.
Piktochart is free to use for everyone. But for more advanced features, Piktochart charges RM35 and RM75 per month per user:
While many people may opt for the free plan, a good portion would opt for the paid plans. People who opt for the paid plan help Piktochart generate a substantial amount of revenue every month.
StoreHub is KL based SaaS company that provides POS solutions for small businesses. It is easy to manage store orders and monitor your sales remotely using StoreHub.
While StoreHub does not offer a free plan, anyone can test StoreHub’s services using its free trial.
If a customer likes what StoreHub has to offer, they can sign up for their monthly plan which ranges from RM129 to RM499 per month:
Paying customers help StoreHub to generate a substantial amount of revenue every month.
How You Can Get Started
While creating a SaaS business can be expensive and difficult, here are some resources you can read to find out more about creating a SaaS business:
Make Money Online Using Affiliate marketing
How You Make Money
You advertise for a business and earn a commission every time you make a sale using your own referral link.
You can place your referral links in your own website or your social media account.
As not everyone who sees the link will buy, you will need to have a large number of visitors to your website or a large following on your social media account for you to create a sustainable income using affiliate marketing.The best way to earn money using affiliate marketing is to have a website or a social media account.
How You Can Get Started
There are two ways to get started making money using affiliate advertising:
These websites have some the best affiliate deals if your website visitors are coming mostly from the US or UK. Most of the merchants are based in the US and UK.
However, Clickbank and Commission Junction may not be as useful if your visitors are mostly from countries in Southeast Asia like Malaysia and Singapore.
For that, you will need to sign up with Involve Asia.
Involve Asia has deals with many popular merchants in Southeast Asia like Lazada and Kinokuniya. Sign up for Involve Asia here.
The main criteria for you to sign up with any of these affiliate networks is that you already have a website which you update regularly.
Other than affiliate networks like Clickbank, Commission Junction and Involve Asia, you can also sign up for affiliate deals directly with businesses.
But how do you find out if a company offers affiliate deals?
The easiest way to do this is by typing in, “[name of company] affiliate program” or [name of company] affiliates” into Google.
For example, if I am looking for Wix’s affiliate program, I can type “wix affiliate program” into the search bar:
You can do this search for any affiliate program you are interested in participating in. Sign up for all the affiliate programs that are relevant to your website and start promoting them to make money.
Make Money Online Selling Ads
How You Make Money
There are many ways to make money through advertising. The most common ways you can make money through advertising are:
CPC (Cost Per Click): You get paid when someone clicks on an ad on your site.
CPA (Cost Per Action): You get paid when someone clicks on an ad on your site and performs an action. For example, sign up for a free trial.
Direct advertising: You sell ad spaces on your website for a fixed monthly fee. For example RM300 for a sidebar ad.
Let’s look at an example of a website that makes money using ads.
Hongkiat is a design blog that receives more than 7 million visitors every month. One of the ways HongKiat.com makes money is by displaying advertising on prominent locations on the website:
The display ad in this case is displayed at the very top where most people will see it.
HongKiat.com makes money when someone views or clicks on the ad.
How to Get Started
To make money selling ads, you must first have a website with some amount of traffic.
This means you need to first invest in learning how to build a website that will bring in a lot of visitors.
Once you have achieved that, then you can consider placing ads on your site. Here is a guide on how you can decide when to start placing ads on your site:
Here are some more resources to get you started on selling ads on your website:
The Big Question: Which Method Should You Pick?
Those are five popular ways you can make money online in Malaysia.
Now, the big question is: with so many options, which method should you pick?
There is no right or wrong answer. You need to ask yourself:
- Physical Products: Do I have the capital to buy inventory? Am I willing to learn online marketing to reach a wide audience for my products?
- Informational Products: Do I have skills I can teach other people? Do I enjoy teaching? Am I willing to invest time and/or money into marketing my materials?
- Affiliate marketing: Am I willing to invest time in building a successful website? Will I be willing to spend time learning how to generate high traffic to my website? Am I willing to learn how to be successful with display affiliate marketing?
- SaaS: Do I have the budget or skills to build and market software? Do I know an existing problem I can solve using software?
- Advertising: Am I willing to invest time in building a successful website? Will I be willing to spend time learning how to generate high traffic to my website? Am I willing to learn how to be successful with display advertising?
As you might have already found out by now, none of these online businesses are passive. Instead, to create a successful online business that generates sustainable income for you, you will need to work hard.
If you keep learning and trying, one day you will be able to create an online business you can run any way you like.
Starting an online business can be useful. Even if you live in Malaysia, you can sell anywhere in the world. With the internet, you can reach a large audience with a small budget.
This means that your income can be high if you learn how to create a successful online business.
Though so, online businesses are not passive. You must be prepared to work hard to create a sustainable online business that gives you a substantial income every month.