It’s on. I present to you the most comprehensive list of ways to make money online…ever.
From freelancing to flipping, this list has it all. If you’ve ever wanted to quit your 9-5 desk job and start living the “laptop lifestyle” with an online business, here’s your guide.
I put freelance work first because it’s something you can start today with zero up-front investment. And if you take the time to move beyond writing — and master a specialized, in-demand skill — you can easily earn 5-figures per month. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the freelance world is fiercely competitive. To give you an idea of just how competitive it is, there are over 138,000 contractors in the Writing and Translation category on one freelance site alone (Elance)! And with intense competition comes a bidding war where contractors tend to work for peanuts.
Here are just a few of the most in-demand freelance positions:
Writing: Includes writing blog posts, articles, ebooks, print books, brochures, newsletters, booklets, white papers, special reports, package information, advertising copy, and press releases.
Graphic Design: Web design, print design, packaging, infographics, logos, vectors, corporate identity, videography and business card design.
Programming/Tech: WordPress, HTML5, PHP, Ruby on Rails, mobile apps, WordPress plugins, WordPress themes (yes, WordPress is dominating the web right now), ecommerce, Joomla and MySQL.
Translating: Hot languages at the moment include Chinese, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Japanese. However, no matter what “other” language you speak, you can usually find work if you’re talented and experienced.
Internet Marketing: SEO, PPC account management, social media (especially YouTube and Pinterest), sales copywriting, website conversion optimization, sales, email marketing, powerpoint presentations, public relations, blogger outreach and guest posting services.
Administrative Support/Customer Service: Data entry, virtual assistance, customer service rep, web research, telephone customer service, accounting and transcription.
Make It Happen
- Elance: The most active and highly respected freelance site on the web. Competitive…but tends to have more high-paying online jobs than most other freelance boards. I make $5,000 per month freelance writing for clients on this site.
- Odesk: Elance’s chief competitor. Not a bad place to pimp your skills, but tends to have more 3rd world labor driving down prices.
- Text Broker: Strictly for writers. Good: steady stream of work. Bad: low pay.
- 99 Designs: If you can make your design stand out then you can probably rake it in at this site. Businesses post their design job, you provide the mockup, and they choose their favorite.
- Guru.com: Another popular freelance board.
- Fiverr: Everything here costs $5. A good place to make some extra cash if you can do something that makes you stand out (like a crazy video).
- Freelancer.com: Similar to Elance and Odesk with a focus on programming and design.
- Behance Jobs: Great place for talented designers to find high-paying work.
- Freelance Switch Job Boards: Not the most active place, but a good place to go if the others are dry.
- People Per Hour: Elance with a twist. Here you can post a list of “Hourlies”: pre-defined tasks that you’re willing to do for a set price.
Getting Started as a Freelancer: Awesome resource with links to this stellar site’s best articles. A must read for newbies.
My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire [Book]: Top notch overview of dominating as a freelancer.
Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business [Book]: Another great read to give you a leg up on your competitors.
Who says you need your own product to make money online? Top affiliate marketers like Pay Flynn and John Chow make enviable 6-figure incomes by recommending other people’s products. The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you can make money fairly quickly as there’s no need to become an expert or struggle with product development. Simply get your affiliate link in front of people interested in a product or service, and when they buy, you’ll get a commission on every sale.
It’s important to note that due to the low barrier to entry and ridiculous margins, affiliate marketing is quite competitive.
Make It Happen
- Clickbank.com: Easily the largest marketplace for digital goods on Earth. Super-reliable payments (they’ve paid out nearly 2 billion dollars to their publishers and affiliates over the last 10 years) and a wide selection of products in every niche make Clickbank the place to get your feet wet as an affiliate. Make up to 75% per sale.
- Commission Junction: Similar to Clickbank. Another good place to scope out products.
- Amazon Affiliate Program: This is the program that started it all. As an “Amazon Associate” your cut will be significantly less than Clickbank or CJ, but you can make bank promoting Amazon products. Depending on the volume you push to them, you can make up to 8.5% per sale.
- Ebay Partner Network: This program doesn’t get a lot of buzz, but it can be very lucrative in the right niches (high-tech, electronics, expensive collectibles etc.). Worth checking out.
- Bluehost Affiliate Program: Want to make $65 per sale? Then you may want to consider promoting this reliable web hosting provider.
- Hostgator Affiliate Program: Similar story as above. Make up to $125 commissions.
- Apple Affiliate Program: Bet you didn’t know that you can make a commission promoting iTunes, Apps and movies…and just about any digital product that Apple sells.
- Promote Things You Love: It’s much more rewarding to promote things that you actually use and enjoy. If there’s a product you love, see if there’s an affiliate program already set up. If not, many businesses are willing to set one up for people that can drive significant amounts of traffic.
Smart Passive Income Blog: Fantastic place to learn the right (aka honest) way to make a living as an affiliate.
Chris Guthrie’s Make Money On the Internet: Quality site that can help you learn the ins and outs of affiliate marketing.
Click Millionaires: Work Less, Live More with an Internet Business You Love [Book]: A good overview of creating a lifestyle-centered online business.
Sell Arts, Crafts and Other Handmade Stuff
People are sick and tired of buying the same mass produced crap that everyone else has. And they’re willing to pay big bucks for something handmade and unique. If you have a knack for sewing, arts and crafts or handmade jewelery there are a few amazing online marketplaces to help you cultivate and sell your work.
Make It Happen
- Etsy: Create your own store and get your work in front of thousands of buyers in minutes. One of the most popular marketplaces to sell handmade stuff.
- ArtFire.com: Etsy’s chief competitor. Also excellent.
- Folksy.com: The British Etsy.
- Craigslist: Hit up their arts and crafts area. Because you’ll be selling locally Craiglist tend to work best if you live in a large metropolitan area.
- Zazzle: A clothing-focused marketplace for designers.
- Spreadshirt.com: Fantastic place to sell unique t-shirt designs.
- Ebay.com: Almost too obvious to even list. Not as popular as it once was, but still incredibly popular.
- Cafe Press: Upload your design, get it approved and they’ll print it on their t-shirts, mugs and posters.
Top 5 tips to sell your crafts online successfully: A nice overview of getting started in this competitive (but fun) business.
Case study: How a 22-year old made $28,139 on Etsy: Lives up to the title. Incredibly insights for someone that really “made it” using Etsy.
The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and On-Line [Book]: If you’re serious about making money with your handmade stuff, then this is a must read.
Cost Per Action (CPA) Marketing
CPA is affiliate marketing’s less famous cousin. The only difference between the two is that, with CPA, you get paid when someone performs an “action”…which is often free for the user. Examples include getting a quote on insurance, signing up to a website or requesting information on online colleges. If done right CPA can be very lucrative.
The one downside to CPA is that most networks tend to go through a lot more due diligence than affiliate networks…meaning you have to jump through a few hoops to get in.
Make It Happen
- OfferVault.com: A search engine for CPA offers. Includes almost all the major players. Sort by category, network or payout amount.
- Max Bounty: A respected network with weekly payments and a wide selection of offers.
- Never Blue: Another reputable network
- CPADNA.com: Fantastic affiliate support.
- Above All Offers: Well-respected industry leader.
- PeerFly.com: Solid network. Also, they you the network EPC for each offer…a nice feature.
Affpaying.com: There are a lot of shady networks out there. Do your homework by reading reviews from real affiliates at this top notch resource.
How To Make Money With 7Search and CPA Offers: Real-life examples on how to run a basic PPC to CPA campaign using 7search and email/zip submits.
Content Revenue Sharing
If you want to put your content on authority sites that already have a steady stream of traffic — and get paid for it — then you may be interested in revenue sharing with authority sites. By posting your content on authority sites you’ll get more traffic than if you posted it on your own blog (unless of course, you had an authority site of your own). In return, you get a cut of the money they make.
This isn’t my favorite way to make money online because I don’t like sharing my revenue with someone else. That being said, this is a great way to start earning a passive income on the web. There are literally hundreds of revenue sharing sites, but it’s best to put your effort behind reliable, proven winners.
Make It Happen
- Squidoo: An incredible site with a strong, supportive community. Pages tend to rank well in search engines without much additional work.
- YouTube Partner Program: If you can create viral videos — but aren’t sure how to monetize them — then you may want to sign up as a YouTube partner. You’ll receive a portion of the revenue that they bring in.
- Suite101.com: Not as lucrative as it once was but still a strong site with editors that will make you a better writer.
- HubPages: Create “hubs” (souped up articles) and monetize them with Adsense, Ebay and a handful of others.
- Best-Reviewer.com: The Squidoo of top 10 lists. Generous revenue sharing.
- Yahoo Contributor Network (formerly Associated Content): Another good one to consider as it has the authority of Yahoo! behind it.
- Digital Journal: Tough to get in, but the site’s authority helps bring in boatloads of traffic.
- InfoBarrel.com: This site isn’t getting the traffic it once was. Squidoo and Hubpages are better alternatives.
How I Make Money On Squidoo: Nice overview of how to get started on the best revenue sharing site, Squidoo.
How to Determine the Best Revenue Sharing Websites: Fantastic overview of what you should look for when vetting potential rev sharing sites.
Make no mistake: video marketing is a HUGE business opportunity. With YouTube emerging as the place to share and watch videos, many internet marketers are making full-time salaries just from YouTube videos. The key to doing well with video marketing is providing tremendous value to whoever is watching.
If you can get a loyal following on your YouTube channel, you can literally drive traffic to anywhere you want, whether it be an affiliate offer or your own site.
Make It Happen
- YouTube: A behemoth of potential traffic. Make sure your channel has a tight niche (dating advice, cooking, marketing etc.) with consistent updates.
- Metacafe.com: Popular video sharing site.
- Vimeo: Good place to upload your video for some additional views.
- 5Min.com: A tutorial-focused video site that allows you to show off your expertise to a new audience.
- Flixya.com: A million visitors a month you say? Worth taking the time to upload after you’ve taken care of YouTube.com.
- Instructables.com: Extremely popular tutorial site that supports how-to videos.
- Camtasia Studio: Professional screen capture software for tutorials. Not cheap.
- Screencast-O-Matic: Cheaper alternative to Camtasia. Simple and easy to use.
16 Tips for Successful Online Video Marketing: Great overview of how to make your videos top-notch and search engine friendly.
Online Video Monetization – What Are Your Options?: Excellent in-depth insights on making money from your video’s views.
Site flipping is a newer way to make money online that’s making some people very rich. In a nutshell you’re buying web real estate at a low price and then flipping it for up to 100x the original price. Of course, like any real estate, you’ll need to put in plenty of “sweat equity” in order to increase the value of your properties. This means generating more traffic and (most importantly) profit from your site. It’s MUCH easier to flip a site that’s already a consistent earner than one with “potential”.
Make It Happen
- Flippa.com: The leading marketplace for buying and selling websites. A great place to browse to get a feel for what site flipping it all about.
- Digital Point Websites for Sale: A ton of shady people, but a few gems as well. Not a bad place to look if there’s nothing happening on Flippa.
- Warrior Forum Complete Websites for Sale: Same story asabove.
- Website Broker.com: Flippa clone.
- Sedo.com: Mostly domains, but some complete website are sold here as well.
Adsense Flippers: These guys have sold hundreds of sites. Enlightening case studies.
One Entrepreneur’s Journey to Selling a Website for $200,000: An amazing case study of a guy who took a site that he built from scratch to a 200k sale.
Ever want to turn your passion into profit? Then blogging may be your answer. However, before you begin it’s important that understand that blogging isn’t the fact track to millions. If you follow the story of the most successful bloggers on the planet — like Seth Godin and Perez Hilton — you’ll notice that they had to hustle like mad to get where they’re at. And they chose a topic that they were passionate about and could make money from. If you want to make money from blogging I recommend that you do the same.
Make It Happen
- WordPress.org: Easily the best and most popular CMS (content management software) in the world. Make sure to avoid WordPress.com, which is where you can host your blog for free (yourblog.wordpress.com). If you’re serious about blogging you’ll need your own host and domain name.
- Joomla: Another powerful CMS and alternative to WordPress.
- GoDaddy.com: The leader in domain name registration.
- Bluehost.com: Reliability, speed and one-click install of WordPress and other blog software make this the best hosting provider for bloggers.
- Woo Themes: Themes are pre-made and customizable designs for your WordPress-powered sites. Woo Themes are pricey but professional.
ProBlogger.net: The place for for up to date blogging insights and analysis. A good place to check out potential markets for your own blog.
31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo [Book]: A motivating look at what it takes to launch and market a successful blog.
How to Start a Successful Blog Today: Awesome tips from two guys that have actually done it.
Sometimes search engines simply aren’t enough. That’s where Q&A sites come in. When someone needs a personalized answer in a hurry, they often turn to popular answer sites to get the help they need. If you’re an expert in a particular field then you can make some side-money by answering questions.
Make It Happen
- LivePerson.com: Register as an expert, and start answering questions (and making money) over the phone, via email or over a live chat.
- JustAnswer.com: Probably the most popular Q&A site on the internet. Well paid…but you really do need to know your stuff. Credentials and degrees help you get more money per answer.
- Ether: Similar to JustAnswer except that you’ll bed delivering your answers over the phone. Set your own rates.
- WebAnswers.com: Get paid to answer questions. Growing site.
Making Money Online: Just Answer Questions: Thorough overview of what it takes to do well with Q&A sites.
Paid surveys are one of the easiest ways to start making money online. That being said, they definitely won’t bring home anything close to a full-time salary. Consider surveys a side dish to your “make money online entrée” .
Make It Happen
- MySurvey.com: The best paying survey panel on the planet. Period.
- Tellwut.com: New to the game but reliable and decent-paying.
- Global Test Market: A trusted leader in paid surveys. Has paid out a staggering $30,000,000 to it’s panelists.
- Cash Crate: Solid survey site with consistent survey invites.
- MyView.com: A highly respected survey panel.
- NPD Online Research: Not the most active panel in the world but one to add to your portfolio.
- I-Say by Ipsos: This used to be the best survey panel on the planet. Still a good one to consider.
SurveySpencer.com: Regularly updated online surveys for money information from someone that eats, sleeps and breathes market research.
Are Online Paid Surveys Legit?: Great overview of paid surveys via About.com.
Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing
If you want start driving traffic to your site in minutes, then you’d be hard pressed to beat PPC marketing. However, unless you know what you’re doing, PPC costs can add up fast. To make PPC work you’ll need to test keywords, ads, landing pages and offers like mad to find a profitable combination. But when you do, you can scale things up and start making serious money every month.
And if you run your own site and want to monetize it, you can usually get connected with these PPC networks so you can start generating some revenue (Adsense is the best paying of the group).
Make It Happen
- Google Adwords: The most popular (and therefore competitive) PPC network on the planet. Expect to spend a lot of money to learn the ropes of their relatively complicated bidding system. However, the quality of Adwords traffic is second to none.
- Bing Ads: Similar to Adwords. Ads run on Yahoo! and Bing search engines.
- Facebook Ads: Tough as nails to get controversial ads approved. However, you can do very well if you test, test and test some more.
- Amazon Ads: If you run an eccomerce site you can run banner ads on Amazon. Very cheap clicks (5 cenrts).
- 7Search.com: A controversial network that offers very low cost per clicks (but also low conversions). That being said, many people do very well with this network.
- Chitika: Similar to Adword’s Content Network (known as Adsense).
- Cliksor: Another contextual advertising network.
- Infolinks.com: Displays unique “links” on certain words within a page’s content. You pay when someone clicks on the ad.
- Bidvertiser.com: Ads get displayed on sites that you choose ahead of time.
- Miva: Cheap clicks. Definitely worth a shot.
- Plenty of Fish Advertising: Massively popular dating site that monetizes with PPC ads.
- Prosper202: The #1 PPC tracking software. A must-have anyone serious about PPC.
Adwords Tips for Success: Excellent data-based recommendations straight from Google’s experts.
Adwords for Dummies: Don’t let the name fool you. This is an in-depth, step-by-step guide to doing well with any PPC network.
Case Study – Massive 250% ROI Increase in 3 Days: Thorough overview of what it takes to do well with second tier networks like 7Search.com.
One of the most valuable assets an internet marketer can have is a large email list of responsive subscribers. That’s why you may have noticed that the most popular sites in IM — like Social Triggers and — put their focus on building a list…not trying to make a quick buck. So if you’re running a site that’s generating traffic you may want to shy away from banner ads and instead build a super-valuable asset: a list. To do that you’ll need to connect with an email provider that will collect emails, organize your list and make sure it’s easy for subscribers to opt-out.
Make It Happen
- Aweber: Popular email service provider. Killer resources for those starting out with email marketing.
- Mail Chimp: Free up to 2,000 subscribers. Strict guidelines for those pushing affiliate offers.
- GetResponse.com: Another reliable and trusted email marketing solution.
- iContact: Another solid option. Offers a free trial.
- Vertical Response: Simple email templates with social media management integration.
- Constant Contact: Feature-rich option for small businesses. Offers standard email along with customer surveys, daily deals and event management.
Kopywriting Kourse for Autoresponders – AppSumo: Fantastic guide on building and monetizing a list.
The 7 High-Converting Places to Add Email Sign-Up Forms to Build Your List: Incredible advice from one of my favorite internet marketers.
Investing and Lending
Ever since joining a popular peer to peer lending service called Lending Club a few years ago I’ve been raking in an incredible 15% interest rate on my microloans. And while 15% of a few thousand bucks won’t make you rich, it’s one of the true passive income sources online. Of course, there’s also day trading: which is usually a dual-monitor 15-hour day affair. Not my idea of a good time. There is money to be made by investing online, although it’s one of the riskiest ways to make money online.
Make It Happen
- Lending Club: This site has made certificates of deposits and savings accounts obsolete. If you follow the site’s advice you can easily make a 10% return.
- Prosper: Another peer to peer lending source.
- Zopa.com: The UK’s p2p lending leader.
- ETrade.com: Another insanely helpful research tool.
- ScottTrade.com: Top notch free investing resources and easy to automate monthly investing.
Would You Lend Money to These People?: Balanced overview of p2p lending from the Wall Street Journal.
The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition) [Book]: Insights from 3 that have made billions from the markets (including Warren Buffet).
Create a Membership Site
If you can provide monthly value to a niche market then you may want to consider setting up a membership site. The best thing about a membership site is that you get a semi-predictable recurring income month after month. However, to gain and keep subscribers you’ll need to deliver tremendous value on a near-daily basis. This isn’t for those that like “set is and forget it” businesses.
Make It Happen
- Wish List: This nifty little WordPress plugin turns your blog into a fully-functioning membership site with ease.
- Magic Members: Another highly recommended plugin.
- Optimize Press: Technically a WordPress theme. However, this amazing software creates landing pages, sales funnels and membership sites with ease. Integrates with most of the popular membership site plugins on the market.
- JMS Membership Sites: Membership site Joomla extension.
- 1ShoppingCart.com: Awesome shopping cart solution with built-in affiliate tools.
- PayPal Recurring Payments: A must-have for your membership sites. Easily set up monthly payments drawn from the user’s PayPal balance, bank or credit cart.
- Kajabi.com: A solid infrastructure for membership site creation. Integrates with Clickbank and other top payment processors.
Should You Build a Membership Site?: Covers the pros and cons of building and maintaining a profitable membership site.
How To Launch A Membership Site – Part 1: Build Your Preeminence: Part 1 in an 8-part series of a membership site building blueprint by the amazing Yaro Starak.
Phew! I think that just about covers it.
Anything I missed? Any experience making money online with these approaches? Post your comments below.