12 Ways to Make Money Online

How to Make Money Online

Making money online is not always easy.  It’s work just like any job, but it seems to have this allure to it.  I think that allure has a lot to do with a feeling of being your own boss or getting as much out of something as you put into it.  At your job, no matter how hard you work, the pay is the same (in the short term), but when you work for yourself, the dynamics are different.  Making money online is essentially like running your own business.  Where “people have dreamed about owning their own business and have not followed through because of the investment in resources,” says Jim Griffith, head of eBay University, “the Internet allows people to at least try without making a large initial investment.”

Here are 12 ways you can make money online

1. Online Ads – Pay-per-click (PPC) links are ads that display on your site, served up by advertising programs like Google AdSense or Chitika are a great way to get started, but don’t expect to get rich off of it unless your site has a lot of traffic. The good thing is you get paid regardless of if the advertiser makes a sale, but the bad thing is they don’t usually pay that much for the click. You don’t have to pick out what ads will display. Google will detect the type of content on your site and show relevant ads automatically. Chitika works a little differently. It goes by what a visitor searched for in order to find your site, not your site’s actual content. Although they may be one in the same, they don’t have to be. Also, Chitika ads will not show up if you browse to your site, but Google Adsense ads will. You’ll want to have good, original content either way to attract visitors and the best ads. Google saves its best paying ads for sites that rank higher and have better traffic. Google also requires that you have a privacy policy on any website displaying their ads or you could risk losing your account. If you don’t know what to write, you can use our privacy policy as an example.

google-adsenseOnce you have an account setup, you can start to add the code to your blog, which serves up the ads.  When people click on the ads, you make money.  The more content you write and the more promotion you do, the more people will come to your web site, which increases the chance that someone will want to click on an ad.

2. Affiliate Programs – Pay-per-purchase (PPP) links are affiliate ads that display links to products or programs where you get a percentage of the sale whenever a purchase is made. Percentages vary based on the product, manufacturer, and affiliate program. Amazon Associates, an affiliate program from Amazon, goes from 4% to 15%, but it’s a tiered scale that requires making sales at lower percentages before you can make sales at higher percentages and it resets every month. LinkShare, another affiliate advertising program, lets you choose what advertisers to work with. Once you find one you would like to promote, you can apply to add them as a product. If you run more than one site you’ll want to set up channels for each site under your account settings. Each channel will have to apply for it’s own advertiser programs even if you’ve already been approved on another channel. Commission Junction and Google Affiliate Network are two other good examples of affiliate advertising networks like LinkShare. While clicks and purchases can be less for PPP links, the payouts can be higher per purchase, making this a good next step for those who want more than just PPC links on their website.

3. Direct Sales – If you’ve got a product to sell, whether it is something you’ve made or something you have bought to resell, if you are selling it on your site you are doing direct sales. You may also have to fulfill your own orders unless you work with an order fulfillment service. The advantage of direct sales are that you get to control how much mark-up you add to the product, but the down-side is that you are on your own for dealing directly with payment processing systems, shipping, returns, and other logistical issues that may come up. If you’ve got a good product to sell, and you’re just starting out, you might want to partner with an already established distribution company like Amazon.com, ClickBank, CafePress, Zazzle, or Threadless, depending on your product. This is a form of commissioned sales, which is the next way to make money online.

4. Commission Sales – If you’ve created a product to sell, but don’t want the hassle of selling directly, commissioned sales is the way to go. For a share of the revenue, the distributer will handle the store front, the payment processing, and returns. All you have to do is ship the item and cash the checks. Some distributers will even store your items for you or make them on-demand. For example, ClickBank will store your ebook for distribution and CafePress, Zazzle, and Spreadshirt prints your items on t-shirts or other merchandise at the point of order. This is kind of like micro-manufacturing or on-demand manufacturing, but essentially it means very low inventory costs, which allows them to charge a decent amount and still give you a cut. You create the idea, they sell it, and give you a commission. If you want more of a commission over time, you can open your own web site, which would be a step back into direct sales. Examples of distributors include Amazon.com, iStockPhoto.com, ClickBank, Zazzle, Spreadshirt, and CafePress.

5. Online Ad Sales – Once your site has enough traffic, you can start to sell ads directly to advertisers. This is a form of direct sales, but the product is ad space on your site that you would normally give to Google Adsense, Chitika, or an affiliate link. The upside is that you can potentially charge more for the space than Google or Chitika would give you for the same space, but you risk not making any direct ad sales at all. But if you have a large enough following and can prove visitor counts, then you may have a good chance in selling ad space to an advertiser interested in marketing to your readers. Again, the key is good content. That’s how it all starts.

6. Domain Flipping – For those who are great at finding niches, can fill a site with content easily, know how to promote a site, and not get too emotionally attached, domain flipping is for you. It has great potential to make a lot of money and can be quite profitable if you know what you are doing. There are sites out there like Flippa or Sedo which specialize in flipping domains and there are are many tutorials out there to teach you the best way to do so. Selling a domain is equivalent to cashing out of a business you’ve started and can be a good feeling, but it’s not for everyone. Sometimes you’ll wish you never sold and then there are just those who like the slow and steady, latent income over the hussle of constantly buying and selling domains.

7. Convert Your Content – Turn your blog into a book or your site into a magazine or your Twitter account into a television show – yes, all these things have been done before.

While the last seven examples have been about your own content or site, the next five focus on other things you can do online to make money:

8. Online Auctions – Sell things on Ebay or Craigslist. This can only last so long unless you go out and get more to sell, however if you get good at it, you can help other people sell things online as well, charging up to 33% commission on the sale.

9. Online Surveys – If you know where to find them, there are plenty of sites out there that will pay you to fill out surveys. You may have to fit into a certain type of income or age group, but eventually you will find one that you can fill out for cash or gifts. This certainly won’t replace your day job, but some enjoy doing it on the side for fun money.

10. Micro-Jobs – This is another low-on-the-totem pole idea that is worth mentioning, but will not make you rich or allow you to quit your day job. Sites like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk will allow you to bid for jobs that pay very small amounts. The upside here is speed. If you can do the jobs in a short amount of time, then your rate of pay can increase. It’s hit or miss on getting accepted to do the job though so you take a risk on how you spend your time. Try and do an opportunity cost analysis first to see if there are better ways to spend your time to make money – online or off.

11. Freelancing – There are lots of freelancing sites out there to find work to do, but one of the most popular sites is Elance. They all pretty much work the same, though. People who need to get stuff done can post their wants or needs up on the site and people like you can then bid on doing the work. If your bid is accepted, you do the work, get paid, and the connecting site takes a commission off the sale. If you do enough, you might be able to shake the commissioned sales model and go direct, essentially starting your own business, which is the next example of how to make money online.

12. Start Your Own Business – This is part of the American dream and very easy to do online. You can even get incorporated online, depending on your state. Whether your business idea is to become a consultant, sell a product, offer a service, or just blog for profit, starting your own business has tax benefits as well as making you feel a sense of pride. I’d recommend it to anybody who wants to experience the free enterprise system to the fullest.

Read Forbe’s Eight Ways to Make Money Online for more tips on how to make money online.