So you want to make some money online. Who doesn’t?
The internet is the definition of opportunity in this day and age. If you’re serious about earning a living online it’s a very real proposition if you have the following two ingredients:
- A proven plan that has worked for others before you, and
- Enough determination to execute that plan until fruition.
You provide #2, and in this guide I will give you an overview of how to find #1.
You don’t need to invent the next billion dollar idea. Why reinvent the wheel when there are plenty of wheels that work just fine.
That are countless ways to make money online, but if you search around for “make money online” or anything along those lines, you’ll discover enough information to keep you reading for the next decade.
That’s not to mention the many cleverly marketed get-rich-quick-and-easy programs out there that prey on wannabe entrepreneurs, but only serve to make the marketer money and not little old you.
In a vast sea of information and marketers begging for your money, how do you know where to start?
This is the guide I wish I read back when I first started in the online money-making game as a clueless 18 year old fresh out of high school. I cut through all of the BS out there and give you exactly what you need to know to get started ASAP towards your very first money-making website.
I’ll answer common questions such as “what are the best strategies”, “how much money can you make”, “what type of website should I start”, “how do I get traffic” and much more.
I don’t claim to be a complete expert or a “guru”, but I speak from experience and openly share what has worked well for me and countless others online, and which can no doubt create real results for you too if you apply yourself.
Passive Income is the Road to Financial Freedom
The internet has allowed me to create financial freedom early in life. I’ve been making a comfortable full-time income for years from my online businesses, and I continue to start new projects as I love the process of creating something from nothing. Something that not only generates income but offers value to others.
By financial freedom I mean that I earn enough passive income from my websites to cover all of my expenses, which allows me to only work when I want to and not because I need to, and to only pursue projects that interest me.
As cliché as it may sound, if I can do it, there’s truly no reason you can’t either. I’m just a regular guy, without any special talent or ability.
I’ll never forget the day I excitedly handed in my resignation letter to my then boss, forever freeing myself from the shackles of employee life which I always knew deep down was not the right path for me. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re happy with the 9 to 5 life and your goal is to make an extra side income with the internet, I respect that and this guide is also for you.
If you’ve never heard of passive income before, it’s where you make money on autopilot, and is commonly referred to as “making money in your sleep”.
You put in the initial work to set up the income-generating system (in this case, an online business) and then it makes you money by itself over and over again without you having to physically trade your time for money like an employee does. Imagine it to be like building your own money tree that will work for you.
Creating passive income stream/s creates freedom in your life to spend your most precious resource, time, however you wish. Whether you’re actually working on business, spending time with friends and family, or even traveling the world, you’re still making money.
How Much Can You Make Online?
One of the most common questions I get asked whenever I mention that I earn a living on the internet is “how much can you make?”.
How long is a piece of string? How much you make is entirely up to you, and will depend on your own goals and ambitions and how hard you’re willing to work for it. One of the greatest benefits to starting an internet business is that you can essentially write your own paycheque.
Want to create an extra side income of $500 a month to help you pay the bills? How about making a few thousand a month and leaving the day job that you dread waking up to every morning? Or perhaps you want to get on the path to true financial wealth and abundance?
Whatever it is you aim to achieve, everything is possible with the internet and there is someone out there who has done it.
The 4 Primary Methods to Make Money Online
There are a plethora of different strategies out there but there are four overall approaches to making money online that the majority of strategies fall under:
1. Sell your own product
Selling your own product is one of the most profitable and sustainable ways to make money online today.
The possibilities are endless with this strategy and you could sell an information product such as an ebook, video program, audio program, a piece of software, a membership program, a kindle book, or it could actually be a physical product that you sell through your online store.
You could create the product yourself, or you could outsource the creation to a freelancer. The overall premise is that your product adds value to the marketplace by solving a particular need or want, and you’ll be rewarded.
This is an excellent way to create a passive income stream because you only put in the work once to create the product, and then when you sell it on your website you make money on it over and over again from the work that you did once. That’s the beauty of passive income, you could still be selling and profiting from your product a few years down the track.
2. Sell someone else’s product (Affiliate Marketing)
Instead of selling your own product another very common way to make money is to sell someone else’s product and earn a commission on each sale. This is known as Affiliate Marketing, and the typical way to drive sales is through a website, but there are other ways to promote products such as creating videos on Youtube, through an email list, or even on social media.
To do this you must join a company’s affiliate program (which is free to join). Not all companies offer an affiliate program, but these days there are tons that do so there’s no shortage of products to promote out there.
In a nutshell the actual process looks like this:
- Start a website or blog about a certain targeted topic and offer valuable information.
- Find useful products that relate to that topic (only quality products that would benefits others that you have personally used or would use yourself) that have an affiliate program.
- Place affiliate links on your site which points to those products (affiliate programs provide the links for you).
- Every time someone clicks on an affiliate link on your site and actually buys something, you earn a commission. Simple.
Commissions usually range anywhere from 1 – 75% of the total purchase price, depending on the product and the company. Just like selling your own product, this is a great way to generate passive income where you get paid over and over again for work that you’ve done once.
Affiliate marketing is how I personally got started online, and is where many first-timers begin because the concept is so simple yet it can be very effective and profitable.
3. Sell a service
Instead of selling products you could sell a service through your website. Some examples of services you could offer are writing, website design, graphic design, programming, copyrighting, SEO, video production, life coaching, and personal training just to name a few common ones.
This avenue will suit those with a specialist skillset and is a form of active income instead of passive, meaning that you have to physically trade your time for money just like with a standard job. If you enjoy offering the service then this may not bother you, but if your goal is to create passive income you could always outsource the service to a freelancer which will free up your time to perform more high-level tasks.
4. Advertise on your website (contextual or private)
This is one of the easier ways to make money online and there are two main approaches to this. The first is Contextual Advertising, which works by simply placing targeted ads on your webpages and whenever a visitor clicks on one of your ads, you earn a small fee. The amount you earn for a click depends entirely on the competitiveness of the field, and can range from a few cents per click to a few dollars per click.
The contextual advertising program that you join (Google AdSense being the most popular by far) takes care of all the details, and the ads change depending on the content of the particular page they are placed on to increase the click-through rate, hence the term “contextual”. You simply add some code that is provided for you to your webpages, and then you can instantly start earning money from visitors to your site.
While it’s very simple to do, it requires you to already have a decent amount of traffic to your site if you want to make money. It’s mainly used as a secondary strategy to earn some extra money with a site, as relying solely on contextual advertising won’t be much of a profitable plan of attack unless you manage to get a ton of traffic.
The second approach to advertising on your website is the private way, where you sell advertising space on your site directly to other companies. To find companies who want to advertise on your site you could create a page on your site titled “Advertise With Us” or something similar, or you could reach out to companies yourself.
What Type of Website to Start?
It’s all well and good to know about the effective money-making strategies out there, but to actually implement them you must have some sort of website. There are various types of sites you could create with these being the main ones:
- Content Site – The most common type of site to create is a content site because it’s so easy to do. Blogs also fall into this category. Ideally you’ll want to share information on a specific topic that you know something about. There are plenty of ways to then make money from any traffic that your site receives, such as affiliate marketing, advertising, creating your own product, etc. This is how I make 6 figures online, and I’ve written a full guide on how you can start your own content site/blog for profit.
- E-Commerce Site – In other words an online store. If you have the resources to do so, opening your own store with a payment gateway such as PayPal and selling your own products has a ton of potential. Buy in bulk at a well-priced wholesaler, repackage and brand if necessary, and then resell for a profit. Simple, but takes a lot of work and usually more start-up cost than a content site.
- Product or Service Landing Page – If you are selling your own product or service you can create a single “sales landing page” as it’s commonly referred as to showcase your business (or a small handful of pages that explains your product/service, kind of like an online brochure) that effectively funnels visitors into buying your product or service.
- Membership Site – A membership site is where customers pay membership fees to use your online product or service. For example, an online members-only tutorial site. This is somewhat of an advanced strategy so I wouldn’t recommend it to beginners.
The Basics of Getting Traffic
Without people actually visiting your site, you won’t make any money. Getting traffic is a crucial part of the equation, and the more traffic you have the more money you can potentially make.
How you go about getting it varies depending on the type of business you have, but overall there are 2 main types of traffic: paid traffic (also known as PPC) and free traffic.
You can use PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising to generate immediate traffic by advertising your site on large networks such as Google or Facebook. Like the name implies, you have to pay every time someone clicks on your ad and are sent to your site. How much you pay per click is based on how competitive your field is.
I only suggest using PPC if you’re selling your own product or service at a decent price point so that you can actually make a profit on your investment, as paid traffic can add up quickly. PPC also takes some skill to use effectively, as it’s easy to waste your money with it and not see a return on investment.
To receive free traffic the aim is to rank well for certain keywords in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, so that when people search for information and products/services to buy they end up on your site.
Also, you can generate free traffic from sources outside of search engines such as YouTube if you create videos on there, and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter if you promote your site there.
In a nutshell, ranking well in search engines and getting lots of free traffic basically comes down to 2 key principles.
First and foremost is to write high quality content that offers real value and that people want to read and share with others. Search engines love quality content, always have and always will. They are always getting better and better at evaluating a page’s value and impact to visitors, so offering the most value that you can should always be priority number uno when building your business.
Second, you need to optimize your website for search engines to rank you. Technically termed SEO (search engine optimization), this includes doing things such as proper keyword research so that you target keywords that people are actually searching for and that ideally have low to medium competition to make it easy for you to compete for that keyword, and also optimizing other parts of your pages to encourage search engines to rank your pages well.
That’s essentially how you build free traffic from search engines like Google. Sure, there are actually a gazillion different factors that determine how well your site is ranked and therefore how much traffic you receive, (such as social media engagement, number and quality of sites that link to you etc) but focusing on creating the best content that you can and doing proper SEO (without going overboard with it) will cover your bases and hold you in good stead. For example, if you have high quality content other sites will naturally link to you and readers are more likely to share your pages with others.
Just remember, be patient and keep putting out quality stuff. It takes a lot of time to build search engine traffic, but trust in the process and if you keep going you will get there. Also, try not to rely on search engines alone. Diversify your traffic sources as much as possible, because search engines are constantly changing and your rankings with them will fluctuate.
How to Actually Create Your Site
When you create a website you need to use a system (technically called a CMS, short for Content Management System) to actually build the site.
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and is what I would recommend to everyone. It’s free and easy to use, and you have complete control over how your site looks, feels, and works. Even though it’s primarily for blogs, it works well for any type of site like a niche site, sales landing page, and even an online store (there are add-on plugins to help with that).
Let me clarify that there are two versions of WordPress, WordPress.org and WordPress.com (check out a comparison table here). WordPress.org is the only real option if you want to set up a business (read: you want to make money), and it allows the most flexibility and functionality.
WordPress.com is more for personal non-commercial blogs and is less customizable. Steer clear of it for business purposes because with this option your site is hosted with WordPress and your site URL would look like this: yoursite.wordpress.com instead of yoursite.com. Not pretty, so leave it for the amateurs.
Making Money Won’t Happen Overnight
I hope this introduction to making money online has helped you gain a clear overview of how to get started towards creating your first internet business and earning a living online. Don’t be discouraged if you feel overwhelmed or confused by all of the information you need to learn. If you don’t know something, in this day and age the knowledge that you seek is only a few clicks away.
If you really want to make it happen, take your time with it, commit to this for the long-haul, and never ever give up. Do that and you are bound to see results, period.
Also, be wary not to fall for the countless “effortlessly rake in a ton of cash in 10 days” type programs that prey on gullible folk who don’t know any better. If it were that easy, everyone would be an internet millionaire. Like anything worth achieving, it takes real effort and time, but remember that all the hard work will be worth it in the end.
It took me many months of trial and error before I started making decent money online, and 4 years before I was able to quit my day job for good. The biggest lesson I learnt was to just keep going, keep learning, keep improving your businesses, and the results will come.
I should mention though that in my first couple of years I was just dabbling and learning the ropes and if you are fully committed from the get go and willing to give it your all you can definitely see great results a lot sooner than I did. Plus, when I first started I wasn’t aware of all the immensely helpful tools and resources that I now use today.
Get Started With Your First Internet Business
If you want to take the next step and get started with your first online business, I highly suggest taking a look at my step by step tutorial on how to build a niche content site: