“I earned $300,000 my first year online and so can you!”
Sounds alluring, doesn't it? The internet is filled with sites promising "MILLIONS!!!!" to an audience eager to harness the potential for earning a living off the web. Of course, contrary to the hype, the "road to riches" (a.k.a., a reasonable income stream) requires hard work, perseverance and determination. But if you're willing to invest the time and energy, there are some proven and realistic ways to generate cash through your computer. So with the understanding that there are no get rick quick secrets here, let’s take a closer look at nine formats for creating online income:
1. E-Books: Creating e-books and special reports that customers download directly to their computers is a great first step for any aspiring e-infopreneur. Digital downloads are easy to create because all you need is an idea, the ability to turn a document into a PDF file and a service like e-junkie.com to sell the document on the internet. As opposed to producing a “real” book which requires an upfront investment for printing and production, the costs associated with digital downloads are relatively minimal. Of course, identifying a profitable topic and learning the “how-to” of producing and marketing your products for success takes both time and elbow-grease, but there are a number of books, websites and other services available on the web to help you learn.
Shameless plug: If you're interested in seeing how this works, check out my e-products, The Layoff Survival Guide and The Back-to-Work-Toolkit: A Guide for Comeback Moms.
2. Audio Products (CD or MP3 files): Many people prefer learning by listening (as opposed to reading), so consider supplementing your e-book offerings with an audio option. You can sell the audio as a MP3 podcast or as an audio that is accessible online. Alternatively, you can offer a CD, or a packaged set of CDs, for people who prefer a more traditional product. It is relatively easy to create an audio by recording a class,speech or an interview with an expert on a chosen topic. I use Audioacrobat as my audio provider and have found them to be very responsive and easy to use (even for a technophobe like me).
3. Video Tutorials and Webinars: The internet is a wonderful vehicle for teaching people about all sorts of subjects from How to Build a Blog to Job Search Techniques to Spanish 101. Technology has now made it possible for even the most technically challenged among us to create impressive multi-media classes and seminars that can be downloaded by a worldwide audience 24/7. The perceived value of classes or workshops is higher than that of printed reports, so creating your own classes can prove to be a very lucrative enterprise.
4. Print Versions of Digital Products: Despite the convenience of e-products, some people prefer learning the old fashioned way with books and cd’s that they can hold, feel and touch. Thanks to the emergence of print-as-you-go fulfillment services like Lulu.com, you can now offer a line of “real” tangible products, without having the headaches associated with the traditional print and distribution model of years past.
5. Affiliate Advertising: If you have a blog that you want to monetize, you might want to consider integrating some affiliate advertising into your site. One of the simplest ways to obtain advertising is to sign-up with one of the affiliate advertising network services on the web, such as Clickbank or Commision Junction. After your application as an affiliate is approved, you then select and display contextual links or banner ads from their hundreds of participating vendors. Unlike traditional print advertising, affiliate advertising is a performance based system meaning that you won’t earn money until your readers actually click on your displayed links or ads and then purchase the product on the page to which the link brings them and after the purchase is made, you earn a percentage of the sale. Don't bet the mortgage on this revenue stream though; it takes significant traffic to your site before you can generate serious money through affiliate advertising.
6. Sell on eBay: Believe it or not, there are people who make a full-time income selling their wares on eBay. Whether you want to profit from your burgeoning collection of cookie jars or need an online storefront to sell your vintage clothing, eBay might be the solution for you. To learn more about how to sell on eBay, here is a link to their "getting started" page.
7. Teach Online: If you enjoy teaching, but want to be able to practice your trade from the comfort of home, consider teaching through an online school. To learn more about opportunities for teaching online, consult one of the "how-to" books available on this topic at Amazon.com or read some of the helpful articles on this topic at The Chronicle of Higher Education.
8. Create/Sell Products Online: Looking for a way to earn cash from your creative talents? Take advantage of the print-on-demand services offered through vendors like CafePress.com where your creative designs and photos can be transformed into novelty products (mugs, greeting cards, hats, etc.) that are offered for sale online; without having to deal with the hassles of upfront production costs, inventory risks and fulfillment requirements. Alternatively, if you want to sell your crafts or jewelry online, you can set-up a storefront through a site like Etsy.com which aggregates the wares of thousands of craftspeople into a single well-traveled online shopping mall.
9. Provide content or writing services to a third-party publisher: If you’re interested in writing online, but don’t want the headaches associated with running a blog or website, consider working as a freelance writer, copy editor or proofreader for a third-party website. Two excellent resources to help you find freelance writing opportunities are Ratracerebellion.com and Mediabistro.com.
Bonus Tip: Having been done this road myself, I know that learning the "how-to" of creating informational products is a pain. One of the best resources I've found for learning about this subject are the classes and products offered by Rebecca Morgan through her site Making Money in Your Jammies. I personally took her class before choosing to be an affiliate for her and found her offerings extremely valuable.