Technology’s ever-pervading permeation into every last fiber and morsel of society has caused a dramatic upheaval in the way we live, work and entertain ourselves. Thanks to the disruptive nature of the internet, the rate of change has only increased exponentially in recent years.
Yet, with so much change in the world today, and a nearly-instantaneous access to the globe’s population through mediums such as social media and online search, many people are still left perplexed by how they can utilize the powerful technology inherently available through the internet, to actually make money online.
The truth? It’s not easy making money online today. With so much competition and so many people and headlines vying for our attention, sifting through and finding reputable sources to generate any respectable amount of income through the web has become an ever-increasing challenge.
Often, what happens is that we run into unscrupulous Internet Marketers (IMs) who have less-than altruistic intentions of extracting money from you rather than helping you to make it. However, this isn’t something new. People have been falling for networking marketing, pyramid schemes, and affiliate marketing scams since before the start of the net.
So, where are we supposed to turn to make money the legitimate way online? This isn’t just about generating passive income; this is also about finding ways and means to create an active income through the conveniences afforded to us by the internet that will not only help us with our debt obligations, but also empower us to save, invest and get really rich in the future.
It’s not easy by any means. Anyone that tells you otherwise isn’t being transparent with you. It takes an enormous amount of effort and authority-building before you can really start getting rich through your online income-producing activities. However, there are some basic methods for making a respectable amount of cash in the short term.
Pain Versus Pleasure
Before I talk about some of the methods for making money online, I wanted to address the role of pain versus pleasure. Every decision that we make in life is weighed on a pain-versus-pleasure scale. We will always do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure, plain and simple. However, this is also what holds us back from succeeding in any endeavor.
Let me explain…
Now, making money online should seem like a pleasurable activity. Why wouldn’t we do just about anything to see things through, since it would be a major source of pleasure, right? Wrong. In the beginning, like anything else, we might get really excited about it. We might also set our hopes very high. But that all comes crashing down when we begin to fail.
The problem? In order to make serious amounts of money online, you need to the most amount of work for the least initial return, not the least amount of work for the greatest return. Translation — major amounts of pain. That’s also the problem with how affiliate marketers, network marketers, and IMs attempt to sell you the “dream,” so to speak.
When people buy into the hype, they set their expectations extremely high. All they need to do is send a few emails out, and voila, instant millions overnight. Well, clearly it doesn’t quite work like that. The issue at heart is that we will always do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure in the short term, not in the long term.
That’s why it’s so hard to quit bad habits or do anything else that requires any semblance of struggle. The human mind is hardwired to avoid pain in the short term, not in the long term. It’s part of our survival instinct. However, you can easily overcome this in the long term as long as you set your expectations the right way.
What Are The Best Ways To Make Money Online?
As someone who’s been immersed in a number of online industries for quite some time, I know a thing or two about what it takes to succeed in this arena. However, just like you, I started at ground zero with little knowledge, but a great deal of passion. What I learned along the way were some invaluable lessons from failure that hurt at the time, but helped immensely in the grand scheme of things.
Today, if you’re at all serious about succeeding in any endeavor, whether online or offline, you have to deliver enormous amounts of value. Yes, you have to do the most amount of work for the least initial return. This is especially true online. Why? Because it takes time to build authority and create an audience, two primary ingredients necessary to succeed in the wonderful world of commerce on the web.
Every successful business and person has delivered a tremendous amount of value at the outset. They did the most amount of work, and they inspected every detail meticulously, to ensure that they were doing right by their customers. As long as you keep that in mind, and you don’t look for a quick buck, you’ll succeed in the long term.
- Find your niche — Figure out what you’re good at or what you want to be good at. You don’t need to be an expert right now, but you do need to decide where you’re going to fit in if you’re at all serious about making serious cash in the long term.
- Build a blog on a custom domain — Your blog is your virtual home. Without it, you’ve no place to filter all that traffic and people interested in what you have to say. But don’t build a blog on a subdomain like yoursite.wordpress.com, create a blog with a custom domain like www.yoursite.com.
- Always add value — Adding value over time creates authority, and authority breeds trust, which in turn helps to grow your audience and readership. Without a significant following, you’ll find it hard to gain any traction online. It simply takes time.
- Create an email list and treat them right — One of the best ways to make money online is by marketing to an actively-interested group of email subscribers. While most people think that email marketing is dead, that’s far from the truth. This is your greatest potential source of income online. Think of it as your money tree.
- Don’t sacrifice morals for a quick buck — At the outset, you’ll want to do all sorts of things to make money online, but don’t sacrifice your morals for a quick buck. Not only will you put people off, but you’ll lose Google’s trust. You also shouldn’t concern yourself with things like Adsense or other ads on a blog before you have around 100,000 visitors per day. Yes, per day.
The point? Think about the long-term results of your activities. It will seem frustrating in the beginning. Then again, everything worthwhile is going to be difficult. It will take time. Stick it out and don’t give up. In the meanwhile, here are some of the best and most legitimate ways you can make money online in the short and long term.
#1 — Write And Sell An Ebook
If you have a propensity for writing and you can slay with your prose, consider writing an ebook. While the market has certainly become saturated as of late, books that help teach people about a technical topic still sell extremely well. This is a great source of passive income but does require a large amount of effort at the outset before any money is generated.
You can sell your ebooks through Amazon’s Kindle program or Apple’s iTunes Connect, which gives you access to a large majority of the digital-book reading market and the barriers for entry are incredibly low. You don’t need to invest lots of money to make this happen, but you do need to invest lots of time, not only in writing the ebooks, but in marketing them as well.
#2 — Sell Audiobooks With Audible
I’ve been in the audiobook-selling business for some time now and have over 3 dozen titles to my name. I know a thing or two about audiobooks. And, what I’ve noticed recently is that audiobooks are growing in popularity as their digital-ebook counterparts are becoming less and less popular.
People are turning to audio and visuals when it comes to technical subjects. However, you should consider doing an ebook first and turning it into an audiobook through a resource like Audible’s ACX platform. You can hire a producer either through a royalty share program, so you don’t have to shell out upfront cash, or you can do a pay-per-hour hire as well.
#3 — Create An App
Yes, this is far more technical. Unless you have the right app-development skills, doing this is going to be a significant undertaking. But, apps are also a great source of passive income when done the right way. You can reach a massive audience of smartphone users by building a great app.
However, like anything else truly worthwhile, apps require a significant investment of your time or money upfront. If you don’t have the skills, then you have to hire someone who can assist you in creating a great app. But first you need to come up with an idea that will sell. Do the proper market research and analytics to come up with the right app.
#4 — Use Mechanical Turk
Mechanical Turk is Amazon’s take on micro-jobs. These are small miniscule-jobs that you can do for other people, which they call HITs, or Human Intelligence Tasks. These are super simple tasks that anyone can do. Some examples are listing off some URLs with certain kinds of images for one cent, or recording a few phrases with a microphone for 6 cents.
Yes, they don’t pay much, but if you string together hundreds of well-paying HITs, you can make a bit of money quickly online if you’re in a crunch for cash. Also, it’s important to note that you can also employ people with HITs to help you with whatever micro-tasks you might have.
#5 — Offer Gigs On Fiverr
If you have some professional experience in graphic design, accounting, social media marketing, web development or SEO, for example, you could offer gigs on Fiverr starting at $5 per job. You could perform a valuable service that you could also up-sell to make more money per gig.
Fiverr is one of the biggest providers in the gig economy on the web and you can sell a wide variety of services and products through this medium. Do the research and find out what you can offer. However, keep in mind that like any other money-making task, it takes time to succeed here. And stellar reviews will help you generate more and more income over time.
#6 — Sell Professional Services On Upwork or 99Designs
Upwork and 99Designs are two of the biggest resources for selling just about any professional service under the sun. If you have extensive experience in a field, you might want to consider selling your services through one of these sites. 99Designs only applies to graphic design while Upwork applies to nearly every other professional service.
However, like anything else, the beginning will be difficult. Before you have a significant track record and extensive reviews, sourcing work in one of these highly-competitive platforms will be difficult. Find the most successful people in your niche and try to model your approach and online profile after theirs.
#7 — Build A Blog
One of the most exhaustive endeavors when it comes to making money online is to build a blog. But we all know that building a blog with real readership is difficult. It takes a lot of work. And I’m speaking from experience. However, once you reach a certain point, the progress and momentum sways in your favor and it becomes far easier.
Blogs can easily generate tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month when done right. Yes, that much. But it won’t be easy to get there. However, looking back on it, a year from now you’ll wish you started today. So why wait another moment?
#8 — Email Marketing
Email marketing is at the heart of every successful endeavor on the web. For those serious about making money online, email marketing is certainly where it’s at. But it has to be done the right way. Before you even try to market anything to anyone via an email list, be sure that they’re people that subscribed and opted in directly to you.
When you try to market to people via email out of the blue, you won’t find as much success. But, if those email subscribers are actively and keenly interested in what you have to say, and they signed up directly through your blog or site, your success rates will be much higher.
#9 — Auction Items On Ebay
Ebay is a bellwether. It’s been around since nearly the start of the online boom. But, like any other platform, success can seem fleeting if you don’t know what you’re doing. Selling items on eBay, professionally that is, can be an art form. Getting people interested in your auctions isn’t always easy, especially when there’s hefty competition and low demand for what you’re selling.
Like anything else, you need to do the proper research, but you can make significant amounts of money as an eBay Power Seller. Find the most successful eBay sellers in your niche and model after their success. Find all of their listings and see just how they list the items that they’re selling.
#10 — Rent Your Home On AirBnB
Rent your entire home or just a room on AirBnB. This is a simple and effective way to make money online, especially in the short term. While you won’t get rich doing this, you can generate thousands of dollars per month for the right place. And, if you live in a sought-after vacation destination, then you’re certainly in luck.
Research other listings in your city on AirBnB and see what the going rate is for a place like yours. You could also just rent out a private room as well or even a bed in a shared room. In fact, that’s how AirBnB got its start. However, you might find it hard in the beginning without reviews, but as long as you take really good care of your guests and provide a lot of value, the reviews will eventually come rolling in.
#11 — Sell Photos Online
If you’re at all into photography, and you have a cache of nice photos, you could consider selling them through sites like Shutterstock and iStockPhoto, two of the biggest photo resources online. It doesn’t take too much effort to do this, but it does take creativity and persistence to succeed with it.
You’ll find serious competition when trying to sell photos online, but this is also a great method for generating passive income. If you can license your images or sell them as stock photography, you won’t have to do any additional work to generate income from that sale once the photos have been posted online. Just collect your payments.
#12 — Drive For Uber Or Lyft
If you live in an area where Uber or Lyft operate, why not become a driver? If you’re looking to make some short-term cash, you can definitely rake it in by working for one of these popular car-hire apps. As long as your vehicle fits within the specifications of their program, and you have a clean license, you could do this on the side, especially if you’re in a crunch for cash.
Treat your guests right and offer them perks that other drivers don’t offer, simply because you want to deliver a lot of value. You might not get that much out of it from the outset, but it will set you apart from all the other drivers and your reviews will be indicative of just that.
#13 — Sell Products On Etsy
Etsy is a great resource for those that enjoy making their own products and selling them online. If you’re into hand-crafted items and you have a penchant for creating killer goods and wares that people just have to have, then you might want to consider setting up an Etsy shop and selling through a massive online portal.
Etsy is a great way to go directly to where all the consumers are congregating. While the company will take a small fee to list your products, along with fees to process the transaction itself, it is easier than setting up your own transactional website. Do some research on the top sellers and try to emulate their success.
#14 — Use Shopify To Build Your Own Online Store
Don’t want to sell through Etsy? You could always build your own online store using a platform like Shopify. Shopify makes it easy to build a transactional website without all the hassle, which takes much of the guesswork out of doing what some would consider a highly-complex task.
The company markets their services with being able to start selling online in seconds. Well, it might not work that fast, but you could most certainly get a good transactional website up and running within minutes or hours.
#15 — Build An Amazon FBA Business
If you want to go directly to the world’s largest online retailer, consider setting up a Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA) business. Amazon will pick, pack and ship your orders, and you’ll have enormous exposure to a buzzing marketplace where products are selling every second.
Clearly, there’s a lot of demand on Amazon, and if any product is going to sell, it’s going to sell well on Amazon. But the goal here is to source the right products that will easily sell at the world’s largest online retailer. Generally, products between $10 and $50 sell very well here. Just be sure to do the right market research before jumping on this bandwagon.
#16 — Answer Professional Questions
Are you a professional in a field that can help answer questions for people looking for your expertise? Websites like JustAnswer and LivePerson match you up with people looking for answers to technical or professional questions. You can make money online by simply answering these questions and providing the right information to people based on their individualistic circumstances.
Depending on your area of knowledge, you could either make a lot of money or just a little bit by answering questions professionally. Do your due diligence before signing up to any website where you’re providing answers in exchange for money and be sure that it’s a reputable source.
#17 — Create Video Tutorials On YouTube
This is definitely a long-term strategy, and you won’t get rich overnight by doing this, but creating engaging and well-thought-out video tutorials and posting them on sites like YouTube could make you a significant amount of passive income in the long term depending on just how well-received those videos might be.
Find a niche and stick to it. Build a YouTube channel and find something that you can do that will add a whole lot of value to the people that might be interested in that field or niche. However, keep in mind that this will require a significant amount of time and upfront investment before this pays off at all.
#18 — Develop Educational Courses On Udemy
One of my absolute favorite sites for selling educational courses is Udemy. In fact, you can check out the courses that I have for sale on the site here. Udemy is a great place to build out technical courses that will teach people how to do some complicated task or learn some sought-after skill.
In my courses, I teach things like web development, search engine optimization and graphic design, but you can teach just about anything on Udemy. However, there is enormous competition on here, but it’s a great source of passive income if you can create a course that people will love.
#19 — Become A Virtual Assistant
While becoming a virtual assistant won’t pay you enormous amounts of money, if you’re looking to be a digital nomad in a city with a low cost-of-living, this could be something that pays your bills. This will require a significant amount of organization and some technical skills as well to succeed.
As long as you have the basics covered with programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, for example, and you’re an effective communicator, able to stick to deadlines, you might find yourself excelling as a virtual assistant.
#20 — Teach Others As A Virtual Tutor
Want to teach others directly? You can become a virtual tutor and engage in one-on-one tutoring sessions or even host Webinars to help people directly with any number of topics. This is terrific for teaching people new languages. If you have a second-language skill, this might be the right option to generate some money quickly and easily.
Of course you could teach a number of things virtually. This could range from technical to non-technical skills. For example, you could use a site like VerbalPlanet to teach a language, or try to source clients directly through social media or other avenues and process their payments through PayPal.
#21 — Write Articles For Other Sites
Last, but certainly not least, is article writing. Depending on your skill level when it comes to writing, you could always find work writing articles for other people. At the outset, this won’t pay you much, especially if you have little in the way of examples or portfolio pieces. But, like anything else, you can build this up over time.
You could also do a number of other things related to writing such as copywriting for descriptions, emails, or other sales-related content. Do your due diligence to find out what the going rates are for writing articles, and even try to find a mentor if you’re serious about making money online through this method.
R.L. Adams is a software engineer, serial entrepreneur, and author. He runs a wildly-popular blog called Wanderlust Worker and contributes to Entrepreneur, Engadget and the Huffington Post.
This Post was originally Published on Forbes.