This is a simple idea and possibly a cheap one, but that depends on what you do and how you implement it. Welcome to the profitable world of the Middleman business.
So what do you do?
You simply become the middle person between two other parties. These other parties are looking for each other. One needs some work doing while the other can do the work and is looking for clients. Or you offer a simple service which allows two sets of people to meet for fun like forums or webcam sites.
Let’s use Fiverr.com as an example; this is a simple website that was set up to allow people to advertise for free the things they would do for $5. People would go to Fiverr looking for people who would do the work they needed doing. When two parties met and a transaction was made, Fiverr would then take $1 commission as part of their cut.
The system is designed so the transactions are made through them and their cut is taken automatically. Ok so the cost of developing the site isn’t cheap but there are many ways to create a very cheap meeting ground that you can eventually profit from.
Fiverr might have been a simple and cheap set up at first and since its popularity grew they were probably forced to spend money on making the site better. That happens when things go well, they evolve and develop, the same could easily happen to you.
So if you do not have thousands spare to spend on developing a great website, do not worry, you might not need it just yet. Technology is getting so advanced that everyone has access to tools that they could use to create a great site.
As another example, there are sites that are dedicated to people meeting and chatting using webcams. The other day while I was tinkering away in the C-Panel section of a website I noticed that there was a free webcam based website template, what that meant was I could load that onto my websites server and start my own webcam chat website.
The popularity of people talking online via webcams is growing. Person.com is a popular one where people meet up to chat and make friends. They offer a free membership but generate revenue from advertising and other premium services.
Person.com like many other sites generates money by offering a paid version which gives full access to their services without all of the annoying advertising. So they make money from advertising in two ways,
- from showing it
- and not showing it.
How cool is that? lol
There are so many middleman sites around, covering all kinds of services. Scribd.com is a place where people upload their eBooks and slides and where others are free to come and read them. YouTube allows people to upload their own videos and again it allows others to come and watch them. Both make money from advertising.
There are job boards, powerpoint share sites, classified ad sites, music sharing sites and even gambling and betting sites where people meet up to gamble with each other, the site then takes a small fee from every win. BetFair in the UK is one of these sites. Their site would have cost a fair bit to develop as it does a lot of live betting and processing but again, yours doesn’t need to.
Most of these sites require storage and maintenance and that is about it. The content of these sites are added by the users, saving you a lot of hard work. Think for a minute about websites that connect people looking for homes and estate agents. Sites like Zoopla and RightMove make money from advertising. They create a template where estate agents add their properties and hit publish.
The content isn’t down to the site owner to create. Picture sharing sites like Flickr.com and Photobucket.com run on the same principle, they create a site where they generate money from advertising. They offer the user storage on their server for free and the user uploads their photos allowing others to use or at least view the images.
The constant addition of new content creates growth in the site and that growth is seen by Google which will push the site up the rankings. Also choosing your name well can create a brand, branding is very important. Most people in the UK now know of Gumtree, a site allowing people to add classified ads for free which then generates money from several types of advertising.
The main issue with this business is creating a site around an idea that has not been done and that will work, that doesn’t mean that you cannot create a similar site but it can be harder to get established. Remember Photobucket and Flickr for photos? Or Zoopla and RightMove for property?
They are different successful sites but in the same niche. So as you see it can be done, but it is better to start in a niche or service that is easier to get established in and if there are no bigger boys to compete with you can start from a cheaper standing.
In the UK a couple of new sites have grown in popularity and they are to do with ordering Takeaway food online, recently I used Just-Eat.co.uk and was impressed with it. This site puts the food suppliers together with the people looking to buy food. They are a middle man service and probably take a cut from either the transaction or a small monthly fee. Just-Eat has websites established in 13 countries, that is a lot of people they are connecting, and that should be a lot of income each month.
RatedPeople.com is another middleman site where quality tradesmen are connected with people who need work doing. I am not sure how it works but I imagine the person awarded the job from the 3 quotes you get would pay a small commission for getting the job.
As you might notice though, what is important is that these sites are usually niche specific. There isn’t one big site that is featuring property, tradesmen, food and photos etc. In some cases a property and tradesmen could work well together on a site as tradesmen tend to work on property but then tradesmen need to eat so would tradesmen and food go well? No probably not but you see what I am saying, each site should be niche specific.
Fiverr.com may cover lots of different jobs but they do have an angle and that is all jobs cost only $5, again this is their niche, they are in the cheap as chips but quality jobs niche.
So now I leave you with the concept behind the middleman site business where users create the content, transactions are done between 2 parties and you earn money from either commissions or advertising revenue, I ask this question, what middleman service could you set up today?