Four Ways to Make Money Online

Over on the Small Business Ideas forum, we discuss a lot of issues related to starting and running small or home-based businesses.

Recently, a common question came up yet again. Here’s an excerpt: “…I want to earn lot of money but I don’t have any idea that how I can earn. Can some one please tell me the way to make money online??”

Here’s an expanded version of the answer I gave on the forum:

There are four main ways to make money online. As it turns out, there are four main ways to make money in general. This is not a coincidence. In many respects, doing business online is not very different from doing business offline.

In a nutshell, you can sell advertising, information, products or services, individually or in some combination.

Advertising:

In the offline world, revenue from classified and displayed ads is actually how most newspapers and magazines make most of their money.

Online, you can run “traditional” banner or text ads or you can sign up for something like AdSense and run PPC ads on your site.

As is true for magazines and newspapers, when considering websites, generally speaking the more traffic you can deliver or the more targeted your visitors are, the more money you can make from selling ads. You will almost certainly need to develop some skills in website traffic-building to make any significant income from selling advertising online.

Information:

The secondary source of income for most newspapers and magazines is subscription revenue and per-copy sales. Basically, they provide useful information that people are willing to pay money for, either by subscription (which generally adds the convenience of home delivery) or by paying per-copy at the newsstand.

Similarly, people buy books because they want the information and/or entertainment the books offer.

Online, you can do the same thing by making your site a tremendously useful resource with information that people are willing to pay money for, and selling subscriptions that allow them to access the bulk of your content. Or you can write e-books and sell those.

If you’re an expert on any subject, chances are there are other people who want to learn what you know.

Products:

You can make original crafts. You can offer handmade furniture, auction off new and used office equipment, sell custom-designed jewelry. You can carry a line of designer clothing, all natural cosmetics, home electronics, sports gear, personalized greeting cards, organic gourmet foods… you name it.

If you can think of it, it’s likely there’s somebody selling it successfully online. And if they can do it, so can you if you put your mind to it. So pick a product you like, and go to work.

Services:

Can you design web pages? Are you a marketing whiz? Can you help kids with their math homework? Can you answer customer inquiry e-mails on behalf of busines business owners? How about a birthday/anniversary reminder service for absent-minded people? Or maybe “hotel-style wake up calls at home”?

From Virtual Assistant to life coach to personal shopper and more, there is a virtually unlimited range of services you can offer. Let your imagination run free for awhile and I’m sure you’ll think of plenty.

The point is, there are zillions of ways to make money online, just as there are zillions of ways to make money offline. The thing is, almost none of them will make you a millionaire overnight, and almost all of them will require work. Often a LOT of work.

As I have often reminded people: there’s fast, there’s cheap, and there’s good. You get to pick two.

The things that work quickly will require a greater investment of money to be effective. Do not expect to be able to get overnight results for free.

Things that require little to no money will usually take awhile to “kick in” and reach their full potential.

Things you attempt without investing time and without investing money simply don’t work.

So find something you’re interested in. Something that gives you a sense of satisfaction when you work on it. Something that gets you excited. Then see what ways you can brainstorm to monetize that area of interest.

It’s much easier to put in the time and effort required — or to justify the expense of having someone else invest their time and effort on your behalf — if you’re working on something you value and enjoy in the first place.

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Copyright © Diane M. Aull, an online consultant for small and mid-sized businesses. For more information about her services, visit NineYards.com or BootstrapSEO. For resources and tools for home based workers, visit Torka's Home for Wayward Girls.

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