The Internet has leveled the playing field in many ways, making it far more accessible for the average person to make money online regardless of physical location or previous experience. The startup costs for an online business can vary significantly, just like the potential for success and profit. While there are no legitimate get rich quick schemes, dedication and hard work can lead to substantial earnings with the right opportunities.
Blogs have evolved to be much more than just online journals. They are legitimate online publications earning legitimate income through contextual ad networks like Google AdSense and other revenue sources.
Millions of blog posts are being written every day with top bloggers earning upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars each month. Even a more modest blog that's well-run and has good traffic can earn hundreds of dollars every month.
2. Freelance Jobs
Businesses and individuals are anxious to hire individuals with particular skill sets. As a freelancer, you can work with practically anyone in the world on a range of digital projects. Leverage your existing abilities in website building, writing, translation, graphic design, app development and more on a freelance basis.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Signing up to work with an affiliate network, such as Amazon Associates or ShareASale, is similar to the finder's fees of old marketing programs. As users click through ads placed on your site or in your e-mails and newsletters, you earn a commission from their purchases. Some affiliate programs don't even require a purchase, paying a commission when a customer signs up for a free trial or subscribes to a mailing list.
Earnings can vary considerably. Beginners may only earn a few dollars a month whereas top affiliates like Pat Flynn can net upwards of $140,000 in monthly revenue.
You don't need to go through a traditional publishing house to publish your own book. The cost of drafting an Ebook is minimal, and it is possible to reach an international audience easily through distribution services like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Lulu. Ebooks can be as short or as long as you'd like with earnings based on the number of copies sold.
One of the options with Amazon Kindle provides a 70% royalty rate after accounting for the costs of digital delivery. An ebook that is listed at $20 could then result in a royalty of just under $14. Kindle best-selling authors earn over $10,000 a year, and while you can't expect to have a best-seller right away, digital publishing is generally more profitable than traditional publishing for the author.
5. Run an Etsy Store
Do you enjoy working with arts and crafts? Sell your unique creations through Etsy, an online marketplace for all things handmade. Etsy sellers list such items as pillowcases, dream catchers, canvas prints, custom shower curtains and more. You set your own pricing and Etsy takes a small cut from your sales.
Some of the top Etsy shops generate an average monthly revenue of between $5,000 and $65,000, not accounting for the costs of creating the items for sale. More modest users can expect to get much less, but it's a great way to monetize your existing hobby.
6. YouTube Channel
PewPewDie. Mental Floss. The Fine Brothers. These are just a few of the channels on YouTube that have been very successful in earning their creators a very healthy source of income. You just need to have the right idea, the right personality, the right look, and a sizable pinch of good luck.
Similar to blogging, YouTube videos can be monetized through a version of Google AdSense. Crowdfunding is also viable for popular channels. The Nerdwriter earns over $2,500 per video through Patreon. Modest YouTubers earn some extra pocket money each month while the top online video stars are earning millions of dollars a year.
7. Social Media Sponsorship
Advertisers and brand managers want access to an engaged audience. If you have thousands of followers on such channels as Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, you may be able to make money through sponsorships. Companies will pay for you to feature their products in the pictures and videos you share.
Instagram users with at least 1,000 followers can charge around $50 per sponsored post, according to an app called Takumi. "Influencers" with substantially larger followings can earn anywhere from $50,000 to over $200,000 a year.
8. Stock Photography
Do you enjoy taking pictures and have a keen eye for the kinds of images that people want to purchase for their editorial or sales content? Selling stock images through services like iStock and Fotolia could be a good source of supplemental income. The key is finding the balance between images that are generic enough for many customers while being unique enough to stand out.
ITo get noticed and to generate a decent amount of money, you will need to upload hundreds or even thousands of photos. A larger portfolio can result in a monthly income of over a hundred dollars. This can be further supplemented by a traditional photography business in your local area, shooting weddings and events.
9. Sell Digital Products
Whereas opening an Etsy store means that you have to create and ship physical products, selling digital products means never having to maintain a physical inventory. You can sell such items as WordPress themes, audiobooks, PowerPoint templates, vector graphics and more through a marketplace like Clickbank.
The amount of money you can make will vary considerably from just a few dollars a month to several hundred thousand dollars. It depends on the success of your products and how you market them. Clickbank is consistently cited as one of the best online marketplaces for digital product creators and marketers.
10. Mechanical Turk
If you are not as interested in building and growing your own online business and are simply looking for a way to earn a little extra pocket money, Amazon Mechanical Turk could be a great solution. You can work from home, performing a variety of "human intelligence tasks" like writing video descriptions, translating a document, or performing online research.
The barrier to entry is remarkably low and you can start making money right away. Tasks that require minimal skill do not pay as well as tasks that need more skill. A typical user's experience found that he was able to earn about $6 per hour transcribing shopping receipts, which is paid at their lowest rate. It's not much, but it's easy work and it could be enough to tide you over between jobs or to supplement your existing income.
Many people start podcasting as a hobby, but these audio shows can also be a reliable source of income. Similar to blogging and YouTube channels, podcasts can be monetized through advertisements, sponsorships, and Patreon subscriptions. One of the greatest challenges will be growing your audience through podcast directories like iTunes.
NPR earns nearly $5 million per year from its podcasts, Marc Maron's producer Brendan McDonald says they could earn a living solely from the podcast if they wanted, and the Accidental Tech Podcast earns about $500,000 per year. The potential is there if your audience is large enough and you attract the right partnerships.
People with a broad range of skill sets have found success with making money on the Internet. The most important take-home lesson is that running an online business is ultimately not so different from operating a more traditional business. It can be time-consuming and may not lead to overnight fame and fortune, but perseverance and successful marketing can net you a comfortable living.