Top 7 Ways to Make Money Online

One of the great things about the internet is that you can go into business for yourself from the comfort of your home. All you need is an internet connection, and you can . Diving into the online world will free you from the daily 9 to 5 grind of a desk job and afford you more time to travel, indulge in hobbies, and spend time with the family.

Another plus is that there are so many different ways to make money online. To start, all you have to do is identify the  appropriate for you. After that, there's no need to hire staff, rent space, or purchase expensive furniture.

Here are a mix of tried and true online ventures, as well as new businesses and niches:

Illustration by Catherine Song. © The Balance, 2018

1. Affiliate Marketing

You may already know that  is one of the oldest online moneymakers out there. Here’s how it works:

  • As an internet entrepreneur, you'll need your own web presence:website, blog, social media platforms, landing pages, sales pages, banner ads, or e-commerce site. But instead of selling your own products, you sell the products of other companies. You can use several of these combinations, if you like, as long as you get your marketing message to the public.
  • Then, pick a ; one with many potential customers. Look at social media to ID trends and see what’s hot on sites like Amazon and CJ Affiliate, for example.
  • Provide important content and marketing messages aimed at your prospects.
  • When customers on your digital platform click on a link to make a purchase, they are taken to your affiliate partner’s site to complete the transaction—and you get a commission for every completed sale. The best part is you don’t have to deal with shipping or customer service.

2. Selling on Amazon, eBay, and Etsy

One of the quickest ways to get started selling online is to leverage the power of third-party sites. E-commerce giants like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy are powerful sales and marketing platforms with a built-in prospect base. Millions of people regularly shop on these sites, and the numbers keep growing. 

These mega-sites make it easy to set up shop so customers can browse your products, and there's no need to build your own website. Also, you’ll find a built-in search feature so that interested buyers can easily find your online storefront. Plus, you get to use the site's shopping cart. In short, you avoid a lot of the expense and hassle of setting up an independent e-commerce website.

Amazon: With Amazon, you can even . The digital retailer also says there are more than two million sellers on their website, representing 40 percent of all sales.  

eBay: With eBay, the procedure is very similar. You simply start by becoming an eBay seller and stay in good standing by making sure your PayPal account is verified, and then you can sign up for your store. These three steps allow you to piggyback on eBay’s reputation, reach, and sales and marketing infrastructure in order to sell your own products.

Etsy: If your crafty, Etsy is where you should set up shop. The web portal is focused on handcrafted and unique one-of-a-kind items and has 1.5 million sellers around the world. And, like Amazon and eBay, you can set up your own online shop on Etsy's site.

All three of these sites are a very easy way to start your digital career, although you do have to pay fees ranging from $0.99 per item for Amazon, to $0.10 for eBay, to $0.20 for Etsy.

The common denominators among all three sites are that you need to use clear, high-quality photos of your products, keep product descriptions detailed and specific, and know what your competitors charge so you don't out-price yourself. 

3. Blogging

Old-fashioned blogging is alive and thriving. If you provide valuable content on a regular basis, you attract like-minded people interested in your niche information and products. Your readers are compelled to .

These people are primed to buy your products either via ads or affiliate links in your posts. Why? Because you’ve been providing useful free (targeted) content and people have come to know and trust you. 

Also, you make your site / online storefront attractive in the eyes of Google by regularly adding useful information in the form of articles, videos, etc. This results in higher rankings in Google's search engine so, hopefully, you appear on page one because most people don’t go to page two on Google.

4. Niche E-commerce

As a startup internet entrepreneur, you're not competing with e-commerce titans or major retailers like Walmart. You also don't need a warehouse or a logistics system to sell your wares.

What you do need to succeed is to narrow-focus. In other words, find your niche, and stick to it. That way you become the go-to expert and appear high in the search engine rankings.

The most important thing is that there has to be a market for your niche. For example, you might have a passion for 16th-century French poetry, but you won't attract a lot of readers.

Instead, find the  and marry those to your knowledge base. Pay attention to the news, social media feeds, and best-selling items on Amazon and eBay to get a read on what markets you want to enter.

5. Your Own YouTube Channel

Top YouTubers can make millions each year, and that includes 5 year-olds. Take PewDiePie who has made more than $15 million filming himself playing video games. But you don’t need millions of viewers to make money on YouTube.

Some ideas for valuable videos include how-tos such as recipes, unboxing (where you open a product for viewers), food and travel reviews, music videos, comedy skits, and so on.

Here's how to make money on YouTube:

  • Set up your YouTube channel, the place where your videos will live.
  • Upload videos consistently and be specific when describing the content in your video. Make sure your videos are high-quality and contain useful or entertaining content. You don't need a fancy camera to get going; a smartphone will suffice in the beginning.
  • Put the word out on your social media platforms like  and your . You should also  or embed them on your blog or website.
  • Respond to comments from viewers to create a fan base. Your job is to attract and keep viewers.
  • Monetize your undertaking by allowing YouTube to include ads in your videos. When viewers click on an ad, you split the fee with Google. The more views, the more revenue for you.

6. Selling E-books

The internet has put a dent in the traditional publishing world. These days e-readers are all the rage.

E-books represent about 20 percent of all book sales in the U.S. The good news is you don’t have to be a publisher with deep pockets to get in on the action. As a solo internet entrepreneur, you can . You can sell your own works or sell a public domain work. Simply upload it to your website (or seller account on Amazon) and start publicizing it on your social media platforms, on your email list, your blog, website, etc.

7. Develop Apps

Whether it’s an iPhone or Android, it's got apps and everyone's got one in their pocket.

You can't compete with the likes of Pandora and Pinterest, but you can get in on the action. If you have a light bulb moment that addresses a need that people have, then  that meets that need. It could be a new way to store photos or a podcast download organizer.

Don't panic if you're not a programmer. You’re the idea person. You can hire people to create it. With the availability of programmers available at reasonable rates, you could probably find someone on a site like Upwork. Of course, the exact amount you’ll pay your developers depends on the complexity of the app.

You should create your app so that it works on both kinds of smartphones, Androids and iPhones. That way you maximize your customer base.