More Ways than One to Make Money Online

by David Ning · 26 comments

Shall we start making more money?

When I set out to write this post, I was going to talk about different ways to make more money but why talk general when I can take a more focused approach and share with you what people do online specifically? I live and breath the Internet these days, so when I ask you to take some time to make more money, I’m thinking about some of these as suggestions.

Blog/Website/Content

I need to start here, because doing this led me to take the leap away from the 9-5. I won’t bore you with the details, because you already know what to do – Throw up a website, write great content, market it, rinse and repeat.

The great thing about these informational websites is that most people can start without expectations and expenses. The lack of pressure frees them to just let their instincts and passion guide them.

On the other hand, the lack of pressure may be a bad thing, as you might not be committed to this side income project. To make matters worst, it is not as easy as everyone has you believe. Know that the vast majority of people who are even remotely successful spent a ton of hours tweaking, learning and building their website. I often tell people that these websites work much like a real world magazine so think about it this way. You can easily slap a few pages of stuff together, call it a magazine and start selling. With some luck, you may even make a few bucks. If however, you want to truly make a comfortable living with your magazine, you better spend time learning how distribution, publishing, and content creation works. This is because even if you don’t do anything yourself, knowing what is involved helps you avoid overpaying your contractors.

Online Stores

Now let’s talk about a more interesting idea. Have you always wanted to sell something but have no intention of renting retail space, modeling your store and then dealing with all the foot traffic, not to mention the dusting and cleanup? If so, consider an online store. The great thing about the online version is that you can spend as much money (or as little as you want), and everything about it can change on a dime (design, payment flow, expansion, contraction among others).

Warning though. You still have to deal with customer support, inventory of your products etc. You also need to always remember that this is a business you are building, so don’t take this lightly just because it’s done online and you never see a physical location.

Online Store Front Redirecting Traffic

Third up on the list is a less popular idea that I’ve seen cleverly implemented. Why worry about payment, customer service, category and inventory when someone else will take care of it for you? With the complexity of software these days, merchants are able to track and distribute commissions to anyone who can send them targeted traffic that ends up buying their products. Some clever entrepreneurs decided that they will just setup an online store front that looks exactly like an online store and redirect everything to a particular merchant. No customer service questions ever again.

Of course, this is an overly simplified version of what goes on, but you get the idea. These people spend a lot of time marketing their online facades. After all, what keeps them separated from the actual store is clever marketing and value add along the sales funnel.

Sell an eBook, or Actually, Anything

You see a ton of these self-made products being sold online these days, and even see a few products promising to teach you how to sell these products. Through the online medium, ANYONE can start selling anything. Be it an ebook, a published book, consulting services or even t-shirts, many people are making money because they are able to reach virtually anyone in the world.

There’s only one important point to remember, and it’s crucial to your success. Forget your product. Yup, I said it. Sure, you absolutely need a good product to be successful long term, but the key to your success is the marketing behind it. Sales won’t happen even if you are giving away a car for everyone that reads your $5 ebook unless people know about it.

Spend at least as much time marketing the product than creating it.

Charge a Subscription Service

Better yet, charge a subscription for your online service. And if you don’t think you can do it, here are three examples of what I have seen that should suggest to you that anyone can do this.

  1. The Tax Expert – I love this one, because it’s so simple. Daily videos answering reader questions every single day. Ideas are coming from the customers, and people stay subscribed because they want to learn more about taxes. The videos are 5-10 minutes, and she only charges $10 a month.
  2. Paid Newsletters – Remember the website content idea we spoke about? Many people charge for it, billed monthly. I’ve seen a ton on investing, but others for restaurant owners and garden lovers as well. The starting cost is practically nil, and people will eventually know about it if it’s worth subscribing, so give this one a thought.
  3. Classes – If you are good at explaining a concept people want to learn about, you can probably start an online class and charge for it. Sure, there are the usuals like math tutors and maybe even digital camera classes. But how about magic tricks?

It Shouldn’t Stop Here

Even if you are successful with any one of these, the worst thing you can do is stop there. Most people never do this, but no one is stopping you from combining any (or all) of the above into a huge online empire. Just like you wouldn’t say no to selling soft drinks if you are a fast food company, you should never say no to selling your own products in an online store.

And if you are smart like McDonalds, you can even start selling coffee too. Now, who would’ve thought of that?

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris November 18, 2009 at 7:56 am

Very interesting. I like breaking it up once in a while with a make money post because personal finance shouldn’t just be all “save save save”.

I will have to look into some of these.

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MoneyNing November 18, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Thanks for the encouragement. I will add some more articles on making money just to mix it up and also because most people neglect this in their personal finance plan.

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PT November 18, 2009 at 8:10 am

Do you have a link to the tax expert videos?

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MoneyNing November 18, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Unfortunately I don’t remember the exact URL, but the idea definitely stuck with me. Also, when I saw it, the website was nothing but a landing page, and the tax videos is hidden behind a portal that you have to pay (ie no direct links).

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kenyantykoon November 18, 2009 at 8:31 am

i think that the first one (a blog or website) is the best and most enjoyable. If your hobby is monetizable (i just made up this word but y’all know what it means), you can eat your cake and have it at the same time in that you get paid to so something that you would gladly do for free. I was reading somewhere that this is one of the major traits with the forbes business titans; they work out of pure interest and passion and not for the money. So the way i see it, we bloggers and entrepreneurs that went into businesses based on our interests have a better shot at becoming the next billionaires than other people :D

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Daniel November 18, 2009 at 9:14 am

I don’t think many bloggers have much of a shot at becoming billionaires. I think blogging is more about enjoying what you do, even if it means hard work and little reward for an extended period of time.

If it was so easy, everyone would just blog about what interested them most, but blogging itself is different. It’s not simply doing what you doing and getting paid for it. You also have to enjoy writing and teaching others, interacticting with people who visit, learning about blogging in general, and marketing yourself and your site to others.

Since I’ve started, I’ve found out a lot about myself and the whole process of becoming more technically able and more aware of just how many blogs there are and how much work it requires to get you to a point of even making a small amount of money.

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MoneyNing November 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm

In my opinion, it’s less about passion and interest for the “forbes business titans” but more about power and egos.

Unless you are a founder of a small company that somehow struck it big in the corporate environment (in which case you are less affected by this syndrome), there are more businessmen in our capitalistic corporate culture that’s driven by power and money than interest and passion for the cause.

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Craig November 18, 2009 at 12:00 pm

E-books can net you a lot of money and great profit margins but you have to have a topic that is very well done and usually more on a niche subject.

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CreditShout November 18, 2009 at 12:35 pm

I also left a 9-5 to make my full time income online. My company focuses on the Blog/Website/Content approach, but I know many people who are doing really well with the whole e-commerce thing as well.

I think the most important thing to understand from the get go is that making a living online IS NOT EASY, regardless of how many ebooks and gurus out there promise you that you’ll make a fortune by using their b.s. “system”.

For people who didn’t grow up with the internet and are trying to get into making some extra money online, the learning curve can be extremely steep, so you need to have a lot of dedication and most importantly don’t expect to get rich overnight because that just isn’t going to happen.

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marci November 18, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Good advice for those who need more money ….
but for those of us who don’t… :) nope :)

My time is too precious to give any more of it up to
the pursuit of making money :)

Once you learn how to pare living down to a comfortable
easy going level – and are debt free, money becomes of
little value in itself. Time, however, is precious :)

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MoneyNing November 18, 2009 at 5:14 pm

I just went to a seminar and here’s one of the punch lines:

“You can always make money, but you can never make time.”

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marci November 18, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Exactly. :)

Thanks for the punch line – I may add it to the scrapbook of memories and
helpful hints I am making for my grandkids :)

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Financial Samurai November 18, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Good post. Can someone/all of you successful full-time online gurus give us small peons and idea of what type of monetary potential there is for the Top bloggers in our space and what type of traffic is need at each stage?

Is it weird for me to feel that anything less than $100,000 in annual online advertisement income simply is too little to do this full time? Part-time however, what a great increase in disposable income.

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CreditShout November 18, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Honestly it depends on your niche, I know of sites in the financial niche with 2 or 3k visitors a day that make more than entertainment related blogs that get 20k visitors daily.

I know of people that make a few hundred a month, and I also know of people who make in upwards of 50k a month, so the potential is there it just takes a lot of time, hard work, research and persistence.

I would say that the key to blogging full time and being successful with it is to think of your blog as a legitimate business, and also to diversify – instead of having just one blog have three in three different niches this way when you’re having a bad month with one site revenue wise, another site may be doing better and make up for the difference much like your stock portfolio.

Doing 100k a month is completely possible, especially with more than one site but again you just need to give yourself time and stick with it – I would say at least a year if you know what you’re doing, and 2 – 3 years if you’re just starting out with online stuff.

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Financial Samurai November 19, 2009 at 9:39 am

Sounds good CreditShout. Can you give us a range of what you bring in a month? I need some motivation, b/c I’ve got a TON of stuff coming at my now, and I just don’t want to bother with 99% of them.

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CreditShout November 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

Lets just say its in the range of 5 figures / month, but I’ve been at this for years and have a lot of different sites so, there was a huge investment of time before I really started making anything significant.

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Financial Samurai November 19, 2009 at 11:29 am

Sounds great. Although, when you say 5 figures a month, that’s anywhere from $10,000 to $99,000/month so can I ask you to narrow it down to +/-$10,000? :)

How long did it take for you until you breached $2,000/month and how important or unimportant is one’s Alexa ranking?

Finally, did you have to heavily go out there and solicit business, or did people come to you with opportunities? At what stage (time) did the scale tilt, if ever towards greater than 50% of your business opportunities being unsolicited?

Thnx.

CreditShout November 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Looks like I have to reply here, but lets just leave it at 5 figures a month the point is you can make however much you really set out to make as long as you put the work into it. I would say you could be doing 2 grand a month with a site 4 – 8 months after you start it. It REALLY depends on your niche and how much competition you have. If you get into something that is completely untapped you could be doing 2 grand a month in the second month but if you’re into something like personal finance that is ridiculously competitive it can take much longer than that.

Alexa is BS.

As for soliciting business, again it depends on the niche your in. With the personal finance niche I’ve found that it’s much harder to get advertisers etc.. than other niches such as technology, but to solve this problem you just rely more on affiliate programs as your primary source of income.

MoneyNing November 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Thanks for joining the discussion. The sky is the limit FS. If you want some advice, you should stop doubting yourself and start working at it to achieve your goals.

Financial Samurai November 19, 2009 at 2:49 pm

No reply button to your last post, so I’ll reply here.

Good advice CreditShout. I think you’re right. I can make $2K/month now from my site from the offers given to me, but I just feel really bad pimping products and stuff that I don’t use or believe in. Sometimes there seems to be no limit to what some endorse, and it bothers me.

David – I think by me asking questions and understanding where others stand is working at it no? Getting the right road map is very important to me, and I’m quite methodical. Not sure how I come across as “doubting myself.”

If we were to compare my full-time business and other private equity ventures, I’m pretty sure you’d be quite impressed. However, I choose to put myself out there as the peon, b/c that’s my style.

MoneyNing November 19, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I get the sense that you are doubting yourself because it seems like you are trying to get someone to tell you that YOU can do this in EXACTLY X amount of time doing Y, Z.

The great thing about the online world is that there is no roadmap, because when everyone can tell you exactly what to do, there’s no more money to be made.

You can always find someone making over $1 million online and you will find someone else making $100 and struggling. It’s just all up to you.

Postcard Profits November 18, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Great article you have written here with some good advice.

I have been making my living online for several years now and I can honestly say that there are a million different ways to be successful.

Therein lies the problem. Information overload. There are just way to many possibilities and the problem is that people start something then before they can even become successful at what they started they hear about the next big thing and jump on board.

My advice… find ONE thing and make it work. It doesn’t matter what that one thing is if you take you can become successful.

Then, and only then, add something else to your portfolio.

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crazy blogger November 19, 2009 at 5:39 am

creating more blogs can earn you more than maintaining a single blog

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Frugal Francis November 19, 2009 at 7:53 am

This article is great, and i love the active audience that chimes in with great comments and suggestions. Maybe I missed it, but I’d love to hear more about David’s tranformation from 9 to 5 to fulltime blogging? Did you start as a side business and then make a full transition once you had significant ad revenue?

I have started my own online blog, and have great ideas for articles but sometimes suffer incredible writers block or writers procrastination. Do you ever consider employing professional blog writers to write for you?

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Ashley November 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm

If you’re afraid of putting a lot of effort into starting an online store Ebay is a good way to get your feet wet.

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jassmin December 1, 2009 at 7:50 pm

I didn’t read a whole page of it, but I want to make some from my online website. I haven’t much sale yet,Is there anyone tell me what should I do?

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