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ClickBank's e-commerce proposition for time-challenged digital entrepreneurs

Over the past 16 years, the service has built a customer base of more than 6 million small companies.

ClickBank CEO Matt Hulett describes his organization as "part payments company and part marketing company for entrepreneurs."

The software as a service (Saas) company's mission is pretty simple: help people with unique intellectual property or ideas—such as wellness products or utility software or home gardening tips or other do-it-yourself (DIY) advice—sell them online. 

"The idea is that anyone can change their lives by taking their passion and turning it into a vocation," Hulett said.

Strictly speaking, ClickBank is an e-commerce platform for digital goods or services, one meant for helping sell content such as e-books or for orchestrating registrations to Web seminars or ongoing advice services. The technology handles payments, tax calculations, and customer service tasks. It also offers marketing services through an affiliate network that helps build visibility for entrepreneurs who don't have a lot of time (or money) to do this on their own. As of August 2014, the Boise, Idaho-based  company handled approximately 30,000 digital sales daily, originating in more than 190 countries.

For these services, ClickBank typically charges a rate of 7.5 percent plus $1 on each transaction, Hulett said. "We take a percentage of the sale," he said.

Among recent updates to the platform include lower processing rate options (based on sales volume), an interface optimized for mobile devices, the ability to customize order forms for branding purposes, and more options that better accommodate recurring subscriptions and repeat customers.

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Jacob Hiller—a professional trainer who specializes in helping basketball players, ice skaters and other athletes (or anyone else for that matter) improve their vertical leap height so they can "dunk" a basketball—uses ClickBank to sell his guide, "The Jump Manual." He's been using the service for about five years.

Since Hiller spends most of his time traveling the world teaching his techniques (45 countries in the past six years), he had little time to spend developing a marketing and sales plan. He sees three primary benefits of using the platform:

  1. E-commerce expertise that adapts quickly to technology evolutions, such as the rise of mobile shopping over the past five years
  2. Access to a "network" of marketing contacts
  3. Exposure to "like-minded" entrepreneurs that can share business strategy expertise

"I get to focus on my product and the stuff I love doing," Hiller said, speaking with me recently from his current home in Japan.

On paper, ClickBank competes with the likes of Digital River, which processes more than $30 billion in online transactions for many of the world's biggest software companies; and Stripe, with provides payment services for Internet sites. ClickBank, which has been around since 1998, counts more than 6 million clients.