One of the most common questions that I’ve received over the last 10-12 years is “How can I make some money online?”. Apparently a common perception is that making money online is easy, something like taking 10 surveys daily and getting paid $60k/year. I always have to temper their optimism and say that it’s actually really difficult and a tremendous amount of work.
Making your living from online businesses is not really any different from brick-and-mortar businesses. You can only get as much out of your business as you put into it. If you are willing to work more, not less, on your online business then you can make a living. Anyone can. It just takes dedication and finding something to do that interests you.
Most online companies will fall into one of the following categories. The trick is to find something that you’re passionate about and build a business model around that.
Selling Physical or Digital Products
Selling products online or even selling information can be very lucrative. Selling physical goods online can give you access to a much larger market than you would have locally, but shipping and distribution concerns have to be addressed. Software-as-a-service companies and companies that just sell access to information would also fall into this realm.
- Making custom children’s clothes and selling them through Etsy
- A site that provides exclusive access to people that you can ask for advice (lawyers, doctors, business owners, whatever)
The world is full of bloggers and other free websites that make their living by selling advertising space on the site. In order to be able to sell ads you typically need a decent amount of traffic focused around one industry or theme to be attractive to advertisers. You can also use a tool like Google’s Adsense to automatically add advertisements to your site, but, again, you’ll need decent amounts of traffic to make any money. Gary Vaynerchuk‘s Crush It! is an invaluable resource for inspiring you to sell ads for your fledgling blog.
- Free website that tracks satellite locations
- Blog about steak and the love of red meat
Affiliate marketing is the process of helping other companies sell their goods for a commission. For example, if you had a blog that reviews books on a daily basis then you could provide links to the products on Amazon and get paid a commission whenever one of your readers make a purchase through Amazon. There are countless ways to utilize affiliate relationships profitably.
- Site that reviews ski equipment and has affiliate links to retailers
- Monitor Twitter looking to help users with questions about specific tech products
Freelancing and the Online Service Industry
There is a constant growing need for independent professionals to assist with growing businesses, particularly in regard to helping small business optimize their online presence.
- Web designers
- Search engine marketing
- Search engine PPC management
Virtual Assistant, Research, Working For Others
There are lots of possibilities of doing part-time and contract work for other companies online. You can check out sites like Elance and oDesk to see what kind of contract work is out there. Virtual assistants, who basically just do whatever a business owner needs (as long as it can be done online), are a growing market.
Beware Everything Else
There’s a lot of misinformation out there from companies looking to take advantage of people who want to work from home, so you have to really understand what you’re buying into if you ever consider any programs like that. Few, if any, of the work at home programs that you see provide any real benefit and are just designed to take your money.
What tips do you have for starting an online business or working from home? Is this a question that you’ve received a lot? How do you respond? Comments welcome!
Photo credit blakespot on Flickr