Big guide to ways to make money online
by Brad Hines 12-13-15 8:33 pm
Creative ways to make money is something I have loved since I was a pre-teen. When I realized that you could conduct business internationally right from your living room when I sold my first product on eBay– a bicycle frame I sold to a customer in Sweden–I was floored that you could do international e-commerce right from your parent's house as a teenager.
Here is a comprehensive A-Z, progressively growing longer overtime, of ways to make money online. Most I have tried and some I have not, but I always try and be transparent about what I like about the method, or don't.
I am not too familiar with the app space in terms of creating one to give great advice, so I am referring you to this:
Art Licensing Sites like Zazzle, Cafe Press, RedBubble
Google the term "merchandising" and there are a lot of companies to choose from, but for now I can only really speak for Zazzle, a major merchandising company. You surely have seen at the mall, those booths where they can blow up a photo on to a coffee mug. Well Zazzle is that times a thousand. The store lets you put any image you want, on two any of hundreds of products ranging from cardstock, iPhone cases, art canvas, mugs, magnets, stickers, t-shirts, sweaters and dozens more. One of my best selling products that you can see at the end of this page, is a birthday card I sell. My mother's iPhone case is made by zazzle. The royalties are not that much, you will not get rich off this unless you happen to be one of the top 100 sellers out of thousands on the site, but the flexibility is excellent.
Here is my store on zazzle which you can look at for a reference. Its best seller has been this birthday card and I am thinking it's a combination of how likeable it was, but also that it is featured on my site the most. To earn well with Zazzle, you mostly need to drive a lot of traffic to the products, and they need to be good products. For now, my sentiment is that merchandising products is a hard way to make money.
Zazzle is like a lot of sites where you can upload your own products with little intial costs to you, the big earners are the ones who pour hours a day into it, and have hundreds of products. In this case, there can be big rewards to carve a niche, and focus your efforts on this site if you have high quality images to lend to their products.
They have a great Wordpress plugin, called zStore Manager Basic, where any new store item you have in your Zazzle store, can automatically appear up on your website.
The buying, selling, leasing, arbitraging, developing, and parking of domain names. Increasingly in the last 5 years, the method I have preferred is developing, but there are many great resources out there on all the methodologies. I recommend DNJournal.com, and DomainTools.com to start.
Elance (and sister website oDesk) are two of the biggest freelance communities in the world, and are probably going to be required somewhere in your path towards business online. While you could definitely list your services on either site, and look for people to hire you for your work, better still is to use it to outsource your work to cheaper parts of the world. I have used the two sites to hire everything from a personal virtual assistant, to writers, social media marketers, developers, and data entry workers.
Update: These have now een merged into a company called Upwork.
Are a great source of passive income when done properly, and a great way to breaking into being a published book author without enduring the rigor of securing a traditional publisher. While you certainly can still seek out a publisher, who could launch your book in e-book form as well as paper, easier still is to self-publish an ebook. Self-publishing allows for steeper royalties for yourself, and near total control over distribution, as well as speed to market. I have watched colleagues pump out in e-book about something timely, much quicker than they could if they were also dealing with the pitching and rejection process that comes with regular publishing.
With self publishing, the importance of selling well lies in a good marketing campaign, and the distributor you use. Smashwords is a great distributor, as is Amazon KDP platform for the promotions it allows you to engage in. I find that my own book is more popular in Europe than the U.S. (how David Hasslehoff of me). I am able to sell in the U.K. and other countries, because of the ease of the Amazon KDP program.
One of the most important aspects of e-book publishing, really disproportionately so, is the importance of a professional cover. I have noticed with both my own eBooks, and colleague's, that the cover is crucial for sales, regardless of the quality of the book. If you have subpar graphic design skills, fear not, again this is a situation I recommend using Elance for, and floating a job gig for book cover design. That, or use 99designs, which is a crowdsource design company, where you can choose from the best of several examples freelancers will draw up.
The consumer to consumer online auction house iss not quite the website it was 15 years ago, it has increasingly lost out to Amazon stores for one thing, but I still reccomend it for any time you are selling something that people are bargain hunting for; or, that is a collectible, rare, or otherwise not frequently found online, that when sold, people may get in a bidding frenzy over.
Is a platform of nothing but interesting lists of things. They pay the writers $100 if they accept their interesting list of 10 or more things, that is 1500 words long or so. You can read their full writing guidelines here.
Good at photography? Make some money of your hobby. Agencies like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Fotolia, Bigstockphoto, and 123RF to name a few will all pay you a licensing fee for any time a user downloads one of your photos. Know that standards for acceptance at most of these websites are high, and that you must upload full size photos of high quality, with any needed release forms like if a photo of a person for example.
I like using SoundCloud for putting up my podcasts, as I have found the interface very easy to work with. But there are a lot of other options as well. Podcasts are quite saturated these days, like a lot of online content, so it is important to invest in making it a quality one, complete with good writing, audio quality, and noteworthy guests. I use a voice recording app for iPhone called TapeACall pro, and a lot of my interviews are nothing more than recording the phone call with my guest, after asking their permission. This is a good way to jump in.
Here is a good piece on podcasting from Smart Passive Income blogger Pat Flynn whom I highly recommend and is far better at it then myself.
Please See Viglink write up.
"Taskers", as the company calls them, are pre-qualified workers who can do various errands for people starting at $14. They exist both online and off. I have been doing this for several years and enjoy the flexible aspect of it (you check in on their app, and work whenever you want.) The online part is the fact that you can get the same types of online work gigs there that you might on say Elance/Odesk, think: web development, writing, marketing, data entry, SEO., etc.
Is a marketplace where teachers can buy and sell their lesson plans from and to other school teachers. Teachers who are dry for class plans for their students can buy lesson plans for their class for mere dollars, and teachers with great lesson plans can license them on the site to other teachers to be shared with. Having a profile on the site is an honest-to-God source of passive income, which of course is what making money online is all about.
While you don't have to be a school teacher to be on the site, I like the idea that those who are can use the site to focus on work in the Summer time.
I have over 50 lessons on the site now, sell consistently, and I do intend to make more, as it is rewarding work knowing that my lesson plans are being used in classrooms. I am competitive as well, and enjoy making the plans better than what I see out there. See the widget below to see examples of what I've made.
It seems the most successful teachers on the site have a few things in common: Reams of lessons, good branding, bundle packaged lessons, and a strong social media presence to sell them from. Kindergarten teacher Deanna Jump for example has already made around two million dollars from the site, the current sales leader.
My tips for having a TPT store should you get one are:
- Invest in good graphics for your plans, it's like the book publishing world, people buy what looks good
- Use the site resources, especially made by fellow teachers
- Be consistent in making plans
- Play with pricing. Know that bundles sell better than single page lesson plans
- Use your monthly sales and message-all-follower capabilities
- Focus on a niche
- Use social media to help promote your plans and your store, especially use Pinterest for this. Join other TPT boards in that regard.
- Make your first lesson plan, the free one, really really good, as it is your “hook” and your store profile’s first impression on fellow teachers.
- Get at least 10 lesson plans out there before you decide how you feel about the site, and also before you consider getting the premium account. I have not got that account yet, but I hear it is worth it and likely will.
- Do check TeachBoys’ store and give us a follow please: Brad Hines on TPT. If you use the site, or have thoughts, do share in the comments below your tips or questions:
The Game Crafter
At the time of this writing, The Game Crafter is the only Print On Demand board and card game publisher that I know of. With TheGameCrafter, you can create your own board game and sell it. When the game is designed well enough, because the company builds them, and ships them, you take on no inventory, and need no capital investment. You can get into business selling board games "over night" so to speak. I did just that. I invented a social trivia game called Recollection, and I now sell it not only at TheGameCrafter.com, but at online gift store GrandSt too. Unlike making a board game in the past, I didn't pay a licensing agent, I didn't have to buy 5000 copies of my own game and store them in a shed, and I didn't have to argue with someone about what the game looks like. It is totally self published, with The Game Crafter as the manufacture simply taking a cut for each game. The cut is steep because of the nature of printing one game at a time, but still pretty good because that is the companies' business model. As I said, I had to invest essentially no money to make this game and beging getting sales of it, which is pretty great.
The ideas for how you can make a game are endless. I've seen everyone from school teachers to real estate professionals make a game which they use to sell. A pyschologist client of mine is looking to make a therapy game for his patients. None of these people needed capital to start. Game design is labor intensive, but fun, and where this company can make the game for you at put it up for sale right away, it's unbeatable.
Is not something that I have tried yet, but I understand is a lucrative source for people willing to invest the time in it. Elance, Tutor.com, and WyzAnt.com are all good places to start where you can create a profile advertising your tutoring skills. I would recommend that if you have a comprehensive lesson plan to teach, that you also have those plans on TeachersPayTeachers (see in this list), and Udemy (also in this list) and use the three to cross promote each other.
Is one of the major players in brand ambassadorship. IZEA's users are called "Influencers" and I must say I like this concept a lot so far, in the last year to date I have earned almost a thousand dollars with the company, who is a broker of sponsored posts. It was not hard work at all. Basically, they hook up advertisers with bloggers/people with a big social media following, to give them opportunities to earn money pitching those brands. For example, recently I was paid to promote a brand of milk on Instagram, a Forbes 500 Burger chain you'd know, and even dog food. You do need a following of some type to be selected for promotions, but food for thought, I only had about 4000 combined social media followers when I joined (across the major four networks).
An inventor help site, at the time of this writing, Quirky has filed for bankruptcy and their future is murky.
Is not something I have got into that much, but I can confirm receiving royalties from it, and that colleagues have enjoyed using it. Udemy is when you create and sell your own academic course. Don't let the word academic fool you, you can create courses to sell in any subject matter possible, from a yoga routine you have created, how to sell real estate, growing orchids–anything. I put up a very quickly put together course for buying and selling cars based on my book Autoprofitz. Without even looking at it for a year I did get sales. When I make the time, I am eager to do more with Udemy.
The catch is that you must qualify first to join the site, by taking in home tests. The premise of UserTesting.com, is that the site will periodically send you websites to review. When you recieve a site to review, using their in-house software, you then will record yourself, speaking to yourself, as you browse their website, explaining what you like or don't like about it. The site's test pay in the $5-30 range, depending on the test. An hour of usability testing, as the concept is called, often could net you $30 from the site.
Another down side seems to be that even after you are accepted to the site overall, you often need to qualify for surveys within it, but depending in your demographic, you may be invited to take tests more than me.
I use automatic affiliate marketing company VigLink, which is similar to Skimlinks.
Last year I switched all my affiliate marketing over to automatic affiliate marketing. I have numerous websites that are unrelated, and none of them receive major traffic. So it had been a pain managing multiple affiliate accounts-amazon for this, something else for that. Multiple logins, multiple passwords, e-mails, etc. And then all these little accounts with just a few bucks in them.
So there are two major automatic affiliate marketing programs. Skimlinks, and VigLink. Both automatically enroll you in 10,000+ affiliate programs. Now, no matter what my website is about, I just have the VigLink code on my site by default, and I never have to worry about signing up for another affiliate program again, no matter what I blog about. If I blog about crafts for example, or anything, and link to various crafts on eBay, Amazon, Kohl's, etc. no matter the product, I will be enrolled in all their programs respectively.
They also have a tool called "Merchant explore" and I simply use that and type in as many keywords as I can related to my website starting broadly, then getting specific.
Websites flipping, sales, or ad revenue
The great thing about owning a website is how once it's done (and not even done), you can move on to making another one. The sites you aren't that passionate about, you can flip for a quick profit on sites like Flippa, eBay, Sedo and making a capital gain on the sale, or, you can have those websites monetized for making click ad or sales revenue from the traffic they receive. At the time of this writing, I am both making websites to flip, and as well, I have about five that are selling everything from salsa and hip hop clothing, to science toys and oriental souvenirs.
To get in business with website development as soon and easiest as possible, I recommend getting web hosting with Bluehost due to their good customer service and affordable prices, and then basing the site with Wordpress. Searching for "free wordpress responsive e-commerce theme" is a great start. For anything from graphic design to marketing the site that you don't know how to do, use either 99designs.com, Elance, or oDesk.