For many people, making money online would be an absolute dream come true. If they could find a way to make money with a website or some other online venture, they could quit their job to focus on entrepreneurship, spend more time with their family, and finally take back control of their time and their lives.
The crazy thing is, earning money online isn’t a pipe dream. I have been doing it for nearly a decade now with my website Good Financial Cents. I also know thousands of other people who are earning money online their own way with websites, courses, or unique marketing strategies.
Now, here’s the good news. The majority of online revenue strategies aren’t that complicated. Like any business venture, your online income takes time to grow. You need to be willing to devote the time and energy required to get your idea off the ground, and you need grit to stick with it even if your journey is slow when you first start out.
If you’re angling to earn money online but aren’t sure where to start, here are several of the best and most realistic strategies to consider:
If you’ve visited any website, you’ve seen Google ads. These ads are everywhere, and for good reason. Not only are they easy to set up on any basic website, but they can be lucrative once your website starts bringing in a steady amount of traffic.
One of the cool things about Google AdSense is that it’s so easy to get set up. If you have a blog or website, you can sign up for a free Google AdSense Account. From there, Google will give you a unique code that you will paste onto your website. Google takes it from there, tracking your page views, traffic, and earnings on your behalf. There is no upkeep or maintenance to get this thing going, which makes it a no-brainer if you have a website already.
Do you know?
How much will you make? I think my best month with Google AdSense was almost $5,000 over the last ten years. That amazing month blew my mind since it was actually near the beginning of my blogging journey. When you go from making zero to $5,000 in a month, that will rock your world. For me, it also got me even more excited because I knew there were other ways to monetize.
#2: Affiliate Marketing
Whether you have a website or are still dreaming up ideas for a blog, you can also look into affiliate marketing. With affiliate marketing, you partner with brands and businesses within the content of your website. If you mention a product or service, you link to that produce or service using a unique affiliate code you received when you signed up for that particular affiliate program. From there, you’ll make money any time someone buys a product or service through your link.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to partner with affiliates that are related to your blog concept. Since I’m a financial advisor, I have focused a lot of my affiliate energy on financial products like savings accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts.
In addition to signing up for individual affiliate programs, you can also sign up for an affiliate ad network that offers a ton of different affiliates in one place. That way, you can see what works and what doesn’t work over time.
If you’re looking for inspiration, my friend John Crestani, a self-made millionaire and digital marketing expert, especially affiliate marketing. John earns more than $500,000 per month from his online business and the bulk of his income comes from affiliate sales. John has had so much success with affiliate marketing that he even has his own course called Super Affiliate System.
While John works with a ton of affiliates in the financial services industry, one of his biggest affiliates is a blog hosting company called Bluehost. This just goes to show that you can make money with nearly any affiliate company or product if you know your audience and build up enough traffic to create sales.
#3: Consulting & Online Courses
Another way to make money online is via consulting. If you’re an expert in any field, you could potentially find people willing to pay you to counsel them on their personal or business goals. You might think you’re not important enough to consult for big companies, but you could be surprised at the types of expertise people will pay for.
My colleague Robert Farrington of The College Investor is a good example of someone who consulted online on the side in an unlikely industry. Robert told me that, after he had been blogging for a few years, a couple of brands reached out to him to ask him for help with social media and online marketing.
Robert said he did an average of 4–6 of these gigs per year for a while depending on his schedule and the work involved. The best part is, he charged a flat rate that usually worked out to around $100 per hour. And remember, this was pay he was earning to advise people on the best ways to use social media tools like Facebook and Pinterest to grow their brands.
On the other hand, if you have any skill you can teach others, it’s also possible to set up an online course you can market online. You can find online courses that teach anything from cooking to marketing or even freelance writing. Heck, I even offer my own course for financial advisors who want to take their businesses online — The Online Advisor Growth Formula.
Last year, I profiled my friend Joseph Michael of Easy Course Creation. Michael offers several different courses, including courses on a writing software called “Scrivener.” Over the years, Michael has earned six figures or more annually selling courses that help people achieve the kind of success he has earned.
Most people set up their online course through a platform like Teachable.com. With Teachable, you can upload your course materials and use the platform to manage customers and accept payments.
#4: Freelance Writing
If you have writing skills and creative talent, it’s also possible to get paid to create online content. I don’t do this as much as I used to, but I am very aware of how viable this income stream is.
One blogger I know, Holly Johnson, actually makes over $200,000 per year creating content for other websites. And actually, that’s on top of the six figures she earns with her blog, Club Thrifty.
Holly told me she started writing content in 2011. At the time, she still worked a full-time job but created content online part-time to supplement her income. Over time, she was able to double and triple her rates until she could quit her full-time job to write. These days, she makes bank as a freelance writer and teaches others to do the same via her online course, Earn More Writing.
According to Johnson, the key to making it as a freelance writer is figuring out a niche, networking with people who might hire you, and delivering high quality content 100 percent of the time. While there are a ton of writing job boards to help you get started, she says it’s fairly easy to find starter writing jobs on websites like Upwork.com.
YouTube is another platform that has made it possible for people to earn money online. There are a ton of YouTube channels out there on any topic if you can think of, and most of the people with a big following are earning some money in exchange for their videos and time.
Marine officer turned men’s fashion expert, Antonio Centeno has built a million dollar business from his YouTube channel, Real Men Real Style.
Last year, Forbes profiled some of the biggest players in the YouTube scene. According to the study, the top ten biggest grossing YouTube stars brought in $127 million from June 2016 to June 2017. The most popular, a gamer named DanTDM, earned $16.5 million of that on his own.
Will you earn that much? Probably not. However, you can start making money via YouTube using the platform’s own ad network or by getting sponsored posts. If you like doing videos, starting a YouTube channel can a fun way to earn some cash on the side.
There are a ridiculous number of ways to make money online and the ones I’ve covered here are just the tip of the iceberg. If you have time, a passion for almost anything, and at least some creative skill, you may be able to build an online income stream — or several — if you give it enough time.
But, don’t just take my word for it. If you look online, you’ll find thousands of success stories you can use for inspiration.
One day you could even create a success story of your own. But you’ll never know unless you try.
What are your favorite ways of creating money online? Tell within the comments.