The world of real estate is harsh, unforgiving, and difficult. There are so many facets to get yourself acquainted with, so it’s important to always keep your eyes open and your feet moving. You need to be the first one on the scene whenever there is property to sell or buy, and you need to keep plugging away at potential buyers or sellers. It’s not an industry for everyone.
What if we told you there was another type of real estate that required less bullish tactics to make a solid amount of money online?
The digital real estate world provides so many ways to make passive income and build wealth without having to go anywhere except your home office chair. If you are savvy with the online world, enjoy creating content, blogging, publishing ideas, and building your brand, then this day job might be for you.
First, we have to ask what exactly digital real estate is.
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What Is Digital Real Estate?
Digital real estate is basically property you can own online. That means websites are primarily what we talk about when saying digital real estate.
In physical real estate, the cost to get involved in the industry is high. You won’t be able to take some spare change you’ve built up over the past few months and get yourself a house, obviously. Even if you want to rent out a small office space, you will have to spend thousands of dollars on it just to start off. At the end of the day, your role in the real estate world is as a middle-man. In the digital world, it’s a bit more open than that.
There are a few technical aspects to digital real estate we need to talk about first: hosting, domain registration, content managers.
A domain name can be purchased for as low as $10 or so per year. Think of this as the address to your website; it’s like the address to your house. When you tell someone where to go to find a property, they need to know where the location is. This is the domain. For example, howtofire.com. You can buy a domain and start digital marketing through sites like Google Domains, GoDaddy, and Namecheap.
A host is a type of internet service that stores a website’s content and makes it accessible online. Think of this as the actual property itself. To access a website via an address/domain, you first must have the property be built and stored somewhere. Your website is stored on the host’s web servers locally before being able to be accessed over the internet. You then connect your domain to it.
Lastly, a content manager is an interface that you use to interact with your website and add content to it. The most popular type of content manager is WordPress.
You can sell and buy these cash flow real estate business online assets with ease, too. Getting started isn’t terribly hard, either. To buy a website and get working on your brand, it has to be the first step!
What Is Digital Property?
Digital property includes anything that you are the account holder of or owner/creator of online and locally. If you make a document, that is your digital property. An email becomes your digital asset, as do videos, photos, and spreadsheets.
Internet accounts are odder in the sense that they are not owned by you, but they are regulated by contracts you sign with the site you sign up for. Intellectual property in the digital world includes such files as photos, meaning that a photo you take is both your digital and intellectual property.
Your lifeline in the digital property world is your username/email account details and your password to numerous websites and services. Keep them unique across each site, and store them on hard paper or in a password manager so they don’t wind up online in a place that puts you at risk.
Why Should You Invest In Digital Real Estate?
Investing in online real estate is a great idea if you are willing to learn everything you need to about the technical side of the world, such as search engine optimization (SEO). If this sounds great to you, here’s why you should invest in the digital real estate industry.
Become Your Own Boss
There is no secret that working in the real estate world comes with a lot of freedoms, especially if you are well-established. You basically become your own boss, taking on tasks as needed and wanted. Online, you are without any boss if you create your own site and blog from it. No set hours, just spending as much time as you want to make your business successful.
Choose Your Ideal Lifestyle
Along with being your own boss, not having to go by a specified timeline will make your mornings and nights easier when you know you get to live by your rules. You won’t have to appease someone else’s wanted work hours on your own digital properties.
Create A Brand On Your Own Terms
When you get the chance to build your own brand, you are able to showcase your personality and demonstrate your skills the way you want to. There is no need to play by the books of social media sites like Twitter when you have both a website and Twitter; you get a chance to share your opinions in long form instead of the short form through Tweets on others’ digital properties.
You’ll need to know some web design features to create your brand the way you want it, but it shouldn’t be hard with new technologies coming out of drag-and-drop hosts. Web design goes hand-in-hand with making money online, so it couldn’t get much easier to do just that.
Own An Appreciating Asset
The better and bigger your website grows over time with more content and users added to it, the more money it will be worth. Websites that have been live for a long period of time will typically get more traffic than new ones, meaning you will get a more expensive sale if you ever choose to do so.
Low Overhead And Start-Up Costs
Unlike real estate investing, there’s no major start-up costs to building your online website brand. You won’t have to worry about spending thousands of dollars to start a real estate investment or hoping that you can find the one person willing to spend thousands more to make it worth your while, either. You can get a domain and host taken care of for a few bucks per month, meaning it isn’t hard to start small and go from there.
Access To Millions Of People
The biggest downer to normal real estate is that you can only market your property to people living in the area around you. That’s unfortunate when billions of people are alive. With the internet, you have the potential audience of billions of people, so why not take your business to the web?
Build Unlimited Wealth
There’s no limit to how much you can make online. Some social media accounts and sites as well as other established websites have sold for millions of dollars, so there’s no question your product could potentially be the next version of that. Is it difficult to imagine that money online? Sure, and the chances are low. But there’s a nice possibility of making an extremely liveable wage from your work soon after starting.
The Risks of Investing in Digital Real Estate
While there are so many positive aspects of the digital world, there are some drawbacks.
Inactivity Can Impact You
The less “in the game” you are, the harder it will impact your pockets and audience. People want to see consistent, fresh content during this day and age, and if you are not keeping up with your live content and posts on a consistent basis, then you will end up losing your audience. The best content is the content that has the most active creator.
Control May Be Restricted
While you will have no boss, you will have to deal with the restrictions your host, domain, content manager, or promotion platforms may have for you. For example, some content managers also come alongside hosts. Wix is one of those companies that offer hosting packages with its own special content manager, which is a lot more restricted than a WordPress site.
Rules Or Policies Can Impact Long-Term Strategy
This goes with many industries, but with the ever-changing digital world, no one can accurately say how the digital age of real estate will change in the future. If your online work gets categorized under a different policy than it is today, or your ad revenue tools a massive hit due to a change, your profits will be hurt.
5 Ways To Monetize Your Digital Real Estate
Speaking about ads, the first and most effective way to monetize your work is through ad revenue. By signing up with groups like Google AdSense, you are able to make money online from people seeing the advertisements Google has sent towards your site. If you get big enough, you can apply to ad networks that specialize in direct advertising, making sure you get the most money per view for your ad space.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing works by providing users with a link that will go directly to a site you are talking about in your articles or recommendations. That link will have an attachment on it with your brand name or ID, making sure that if they push that link and purchase the product you are talking about, you will get a slice of the pie, too.
3. Sponsored Content
Sponsored content works when a brand pays you for an article, video, or social media post talking about its services or product disguised as a normal article. It will read like a typical article on your site, but it will be a long-read advertisement for the brand’s work. Make sure to disclose the partnership, though!
4. Your Own Product
If you have your own things to sell, like clothes, merchandise, books, services, or courses you can make money online through your audience purchasing them. It’s super easy to build a clothing store without spending a dime, too. If you go through sites like Teepublic, they will create and sell the designs you make for clothing. You get a small amount of the cut, while the site gets the rest.
5. Subscription Service or Pay Wall
Many video content creators from YouTube have Patreon, where they will accept donations for their work in exchange for exclusive content. You could do a version of the same thing! Say you are a financial blog, like us! You could offer premium resources if someone paid a few dollars per month to keep you going.
Is Digital Real Estate Worth It?
Digital real estate is worth it if you are willing to put the time and effort into making it a feasible side hustle or full-time income. While luck will come into play, your hard work will ultimately be the factor that determines the success of your business.
Starting an online business is just a few clicks and dollars away, so even if you decide it isn’t for you, you wouldn’t have put too much out of your pocket.
The best time to start creating is now, so go ahead and create your online brand in the digital world.
What are some of your favorite hosts in the digital industry?
Sam uses her BS in Finance and MBA to help others get control of their finances through budgeting, saving, investing, side hustles, and travel hacking. Due to following the FIRE Movement’s principles, she was able to quit her high-stress job in the financial services industry in July 2019 to pursue her side hustles. She is now a full-time entrepreneur and blogger. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her dog “Simba” and traveling with her husband, John.