In today’s economic climate, more and more people are looking for ways to make money online. Using the internet to make money is an excellent way to leverage your time, your hobbies, and your experience, to increase your wealth. The internet is a pervasive medium and has several ways that can be used to make money doing something you love.

MoneyCredit: Deegan Marie

This article Covers 3 primary types of income streams that can make you money online: Advertisement-Based Income, Expert-Based Income, and Product-Based Income. For each basis of income, multiple areas are explored. I hope that you will be informed and inspired to start something of your own. 

Advertisement-Based Income

The ways of making money listed under this section all involve some form of you doing advertising for someone else. Companies spend money marketing on the internet and these are some methods on getting your piece of that money pie. They are already spending that money on advertising, why would you not want to help them and take some of that money they are handing out?

-         Affiliate Marketing

The first option you have on how to make money online is to set up an affiliate program. affiliate marketing is the internet equivalent of being a commission only sales person.

For this option, you will have to choose a parent company that will provide you with the products, track your sales and then give you commission for each sale. Some brands handle these tasks on their own; however, it is more common for the individual company to contract through a major site like Linkshare. You can use this style of marketing to leverage your Pinterest addiction to generate an affiliate income. A simple Google search will help you to find an affiliate program that could work for you. Another way of finding affiliate opportunities would be to go to your favorite product website and look in the footer for the word “affiliate.”

There are some companies that also allow multiple advertising tiers, and are often referred to as “Multi-Level Marketing” or “Network Marketing” companies. This means that you can get a commission from any affiliate under you.

-         Writing for Income

Do you fancy yourself a writer? Sites like Blogvertise, Yahoo Voices, and InfoBarrel (Make More Money with InfoBarrel than with a blog) will pay you to write for them. I categorize this with advertisement-based income because the primary way that these sites pay you has to do with visitor traffic on your articles and how much ad revenue you generate for the larger website. This is typically a very slow growth earning option but a great choice for anyone who likes to write or wants to get better at writing.

Ebooks - For more advanced or longer form writing you could consider publishing e-books through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing[3]. However, this is really more of an “Expert Based Income” option as I would hope you would not publish a book unless you know what you are talking about.

-         Adsense & Direct Sell Ads

Another option is through non-affiliate advertising commissions. If you have a website that generates a thousand viewers a day, you have the option to set up a banner for advertisements. This banner will generate paid advertisements, and the income will go to you. This is an excellent option for people who are avid bloggers or already maintaining a website of their own.

With Google Adsense ads on your website you can custom tailor ads by different sizes, offer text only ads, or text and image ads. Companies pay to advertise through Adsense and Google uses cookies from search users to place ads on your page that your visitors are most likely to click on. These ads are automatically generated by Google, although you can edit your settings and specify the industries you would like to keep off of your page i.e. you may not want dating sites advertised on your website dedicated to “Saving Your Marriage.” The ads pay automatically in two forms CPM[1] and CPC[2].  Single page websites with limited content will not be able to generate a lot of money through Google Adsense. If you have strong sales skills or are targeting a very small niche you may wish to directly sell ads. This can be done by creating your customized banners for businesses and regularly editing code on your website to keep ads up to date, or done through Google’s Direct[4] Sales tool in Adsense. If you use Adsense to direct sell adds Google generates the code and does not require you to change anything. Simply set a price per day,the size of the ad, and the days it should run. Google will even suggest a going rate based on your traffic. Adsense then generates a link for you to send to the advertiser where they can add their information for the ad including images and links.  

Expert-Based Income

Expert-based income sources are pretty self-explanatory. This is income you can make using the internet that is generated by your expertise in a specific area. I divide expert-based income into 3 primary methods: Teaching, Consulting, and Services. I will give a brief layout of how you could use any of these three methods to leverage your expertise to make money online.

-         Teaching

The most passive form of making money online is through teaching. The reason for this is you can create the teaching materials (i.e. books, videos, worksheets) one time and monetize them in many different ways. You could take the route of ExpertVillage, teaching via Youtube and your income comes from ads in your videos. You could go the route of Dave Ramsey and package all the items together as a class. The really fun option is to create a membership site which holds all of your teaching materials and offers members access to new material as well as interaction with other members so that they can learn together.

Make Money OnlineCredit: edited image

A newer form of this is unfortunately also a Google tool called “Helpouts.” In the help out community you sign up to offer your expertise within a certain area ranging from speaking English to studying calculus or IT support. The areas to help out with are endless. To make money with Helpouts, you set a price per minute (or per hour) for people to talk with you on your subject. After that, you set up a schedule of availability and if someone would like to pay for your expertise, they simply set an appointment for one of the time slots you have available. Then, they pay Google, who then pays you for helping them out. It is really quite fun and a great midway point between teaching and consulting.

-         Consulting

Consulting is not passive by any stretch of the imagination. Consulting requires lots of dedicated and specific work, but you may already be doing it for your current employer. By transitioning your skills from an employee to a contracted consultant you can significantly increase your pay rate. Consulting in many ways is also not an online income stream; however, if you wish to do consulting, the internet can be your best friend.

Start by setting up a website that targets your specific industry and area of expertise. Use this website to sell your expertise as to why a company should pay you. The more specific you get the more you can charge. Consulting can turn a business around, so do not feel guilty charging $100/hour,[5] or $5000 for a 50 hour consulting package. If you do quality work the business who hires you cannot afford not to hire you.

-         Services

You can use the internet to leverage your expertise by providing services and generating an income doing stuff you love. Again, providing a service that uses your expertise will not be passive, and most service opportunities are not able to be done online. For services that are done in person, you should know that the internet is the first place people go when they are looking to hire a service. If you like picking locks and are good at it why not get paid to do it instead of risking getting arrested? It is easy to start a locksmith business and would not take much work to get your website onto the first page of Google when people search for locksmiths near your area. This can be done for anything from mowing lawns, handyman work, and plumbing, all the way to doing local bar tours.

For online-only services, you are looking more in the direction of the next area I will focus on, design and software products. If you love to mess around with Content Management Systems, people are always looking for someone to set up, redesign, or maintain their website. You could replace that minimum wage job easily by offering your services as a virtual assistant. If there is something you have ever thought “Can I get someone else to do this?” there are people who are doing it and making money. If you have ever come across an aspect of your job and thought, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this!” there are people who would rather not do it and they could be paying you to do only that. The things you love to do - someone out there dreads doing it - and you can turn it into your primary source of income if you work a little and use the internet to build your business.

Product-Based Income

Product-based income is one of the easiest ways to work on your terms. You create a product when you want, how you want, for customers. There are many different approaches to how to build products that sell, and you can explore those different approaches for selling in a different article. I am going to focus on the different type of product areas so that you can start thinking about which area might work best for you.

-         Design Products

Design products are for the artistic among us, and they can be either physical or electronic. Electronic design products you could make for an income include graphic design, website design, photo editing, and ad campaigns. Physical design products could be anything from paintings to furniture, so use your creativity and start making some cool things. You can use the internet to find customers for your existing products, or to solicit your services in newly commissioned projects, where you make something specific for each client. I recommend doing custom projects because you will not end up with a large amount of unsold merchandise and you can demand higher prices for custom jobs. Wouldn't you love to make a living out of your artistic habits?

Selling Artwork OnlineCredit: Pat Flynn

-         Functional Products

Functional products are quite simply products that serve a function in the physical world. Do you have an idea that could revolutionize the towel industry? Can you make a product that does not exist yet? Or make a product better than it currently is? If so, you can utilize the internet to establish your business and have a global reach to develop, produce, and market your product. It does not even require a high school diploma to think of a product and build a business around that product. The internet can allow you to never have to follow the normal beaten path of life by making a life out of creating something that adds value to people’s lives.

-         Software Products

Software products can either be a large source of work or a small amount of work that generates long term residual income; it just depends on what strategy you take. You could build software programs for business that will make it easier for them to carry out normal operations, or you can build software for individual users. The software could be a game, an app, a functionality tool, or whatever else you can think of. There is a new trend in software development where, instead of charging for a one time sale of your software, you instead license users on a monthly or yearly basis. Adobe for example has different levels of subscription that unlock different features. Subscription-style sales are one of the most passive ways that you can generate income using the internet.



I hope this article has helped you to think of some ways that you can get out of that rut of working for others and inspire you to start something of your own. Use the internet to make money. There are certainly ways to make money online that are not included here but this is a great place to start in your thinking for how to make money online. 

 This post was inspired by some great people who podcast and blog great content that really speak to the entrepreneur in each of us: Michael Hyatt, Pat Flynn, and John Lee Dumas.