I have been earning an income online since 1998 and the Internet has provided my only source of income since 2001. Of course, when people find out what I do for a living, one of the first things they ask me is, 'What can I do to earn money online?' As you might expect, there is no quick and easy answer to this, building any business whether it be online or offline takes time, money and commitment. There are numerous ways of earning money online, here are just three which you might like to consider. I have personally used all three with considerable success over the past twelve years so you can rest assured that they are well tested and do work if you put the right amount of effort in!

Sell on eBay

Selling on eBay is in my number one position for good reason – it is how I got started in online business way back in 1998. Nowadays millions of people around the world use the online auction site to earn a full or part-time income. eBay is pretty easy to use and can be very lucrative if you find the right products to sell.

Initially I would recommend that you start selling your own secondhand products from around the house – everyone has things they don't need anymore and there is a buyer for (almost) everything on eBay. Once you have made a few sales and are confident with using the site, you can consider selling other products, there are countless options. You could buy stock from a wholesaler to resell or maybe you have an existing business which you could tag eBay onto? (I have a friend with an offline printing business who sells his products via eBay too). I wrote an eBook and sold that via eBay (eBay no longer allows the sale of digital download products although there is nothing stopping you from writing an eBook and selling it on CD).

Write an eBook

My online businesses really started to take off once I published my first eBook. An eBook is quite simply a book in digital format which you can download and read on your computer. The advantage of an eBook to the writer is that it costs next to nothing to reproduce. Actually it does cost nothing, in most cases the only fee you will incur when you make a sale is the cost of processing the payment via a payment processor such as Paypal.

When I started out, I first sold my eBook on eBay but soon moved sales to my own, very basic website. Setting up a website to sell an eBook is not difficult and you only need a fairly straightforward site consisting of a couple of pages. You can set Paypal up to take your payment and once processed provide your buyer with a download link so they can access their purchase right away. This brings me to the next advantage of eBooks, you can make sales without having to do anything and your money will just get paid into your bank account!

The best topics to write eBooks on are things which help to solve problems or which will help people financially or in some other ways. Some examples would be: 'How to Give Up Smoking', 'How to Lose Weight', 'How to Start a Successful eBay Business', 'How to Sell your House Without a Real Estate Agent'. I have seen eBooks on all of these topics and know that some of them have made their writers hundreds of thousands of dollars. I personally sold over 15,000 copies of my first eBook before I stopped counting!

Set up a membership website

A membership website is basically a website which provides either a product or some kind of service to its members in return for a regular subscription payment. Shortly after publishing my first eBook, I decided to set up a membership website as I realised that once my buyers had purchased the eBook, I had nothing else for them to spend their money on. I therefore created a membership site on the same topic as the eBook which gave my buyers an upgrade option.

There are various software scripts available which will handle the membership side of the business for you but the very best in my opinion is called Amember. Amember will handle the entire security and payment aspects of your site (in other words making sure that people who haven't paid to be a member don't get to see the members area of the site). This means that you can focus on marketing and adding new content. The toughest bit of running a membership site is finding new content or products/services for your members every month. That said, the rewards can be incredible. My first membership website operated in a fairly niche marketplace yet I soon built up a membership base of over 2000 members each paying a subscription of several dollars a month. Membership sites can offer a very nice recurring income each month and I would recommend this option as one of the very best ways of earning money online.

For more ways to earn money online, please read my article 3 More Ways to Earn Online.