I absolutely believe the "average" person can make legitimate income online. I believe it because I've done it myself. At the beginning of 2010 I was not making any significant money online. Less than two years later, my husband quit his job and my online income now supports us. (My current income streams are listed on my Tools I Use page if you're interested.)
The crucial first step
If you want to make money online, my first recommendation is to start a blog or website. Let it serve as your internet home and branch out from there. Your own site is a must these days if you want to work online. Not sure how to do that? No problem, here's my step by step guide: How to Start a Blog or Website.
Once you've got yourself set up with a site, it's time to work. And when I say work, I mean it. Making money online is not a way to get rich quick. If anyone tells you differently, be extremely skeptical. Still, you can do it!
1. Turn your skill(s) into a service online.
If you have a skill (who doesn't?), why not offer your services via the internet (a.k.a. virtually)? From counseling to administrative assistance to design to consulting and anything in between, thousands of people (myself included) are taking advantage of the internet to grow viable businesses from home. I highly, highly, highly recommend The Bootstrap VA: The Go-Getter's Guide to Becoming a Virtual Assistant, Getting and Keeping Clients, and More!, an ebook by Lisa Morosky. This ebook blew my mind; it's loaded with tips, resources and step-by-step instruction. It's a steal at $12.99–it's like a college course! Seriously, if you're thinking about offering a service online, do yourself a favor and make this your first business investment.
2. Generate income directly from your site.
Niche blogs or websites are sites that offer some sort of helpful or entertaining information to a highly-targeted group of people. Sometimes it involves doing keyword research to find out what people are searching for in the search engines and tailoring your site to be the go-to place for that search.
If you have a highly-specialized interest with accompanying expertise you can share your knowledge and generate income from it. How? Advertising or affiliate marketing.
The absolute best tool for keyword research is Market Samurai. I know, because I'm a paying customer. If you want to see how it works, check out their very informative tutorial videos. Highly recommended.
3. Sell on Etsy.
Are you crafty? Consider selling on Etsy. You can set up your own shop for free and it's simple to get started. It's not so simple to stand out from the crowd, so that's likely to be your biggest challenge. Here are some tips on how to market your shop.
4. Write for someone else.
The advantage of writing for other sites is that you get to be a part of something that's already established. Also, you don't have to worry about the technical aspects of running and maintaining your own site.
Write for Squidoo. Here's one woman's story. Or write for eHow and make $15-$20 per hour. Become a guide (compensation at least $500/mo) or contributing writer (compensation at least $250/mo) at About.com. At the time of this writing, they're looking for guides for Breastfeeding, Home Furnishings and Country Music. They're looking for contributing writers for Soul Food, Wedding Planning, Children's Activites and Digital Scrapbooking. To name a few.
5. Are you a photographer? Illustrator?
Why not sell your photos on a site like iStockphoto? SomeGirl has an excellent series about how to become an iStockphoto seller. A significant portion of her family's income comes from selling photos.
6. Like to travel?
This is clearly not for everyone, but I throw it out there because I think it's cool and it demonstrates the freedom of working online. If you have the flexibility to travel, be a guide for The Lonely Planet like Gayle who lives in Ghana. Speaking of travel, more and more people are becoming "Location Independent" meaning, their home is wherever they feel like going next. Check out Lea & Jonathan's story.
7. Create and sell your own tangible products (not necessarily the handmade kind).
If you have an idea for a product you'd like to sell but aren't sure where to start, this couple tells you how they started selling wedding linens online. Their Online Store Tutorials are particularly helpful.
8. Write a book. Better yet, write an ebook.
Many bloggers have dreams of being published authors. Many have indeed accomplished that goal and their blogs were a major catalyst in doing so. If that's you, then write and write well. Get involved in online writing communities like National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Follow a blogger like Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent who explains the ins and outs of getting published the "traditional" way. I also recommend following Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson (the biggest Christian publisher as of 2010). If that doesn't work for you and you'd like to self-publish, try Lulu or CreateSpace (from Amazon).
But don't overlook ebooks! Their popularity is on the rise and they are simple to create. I turned down a traditional book deal in favor of self-publishing. My ebook, Tell Your Time, started out as an experiment and has turned into something I never imagined. I've sold thousands of copies and counting. This has turned into one of my biggest income streams. Check out my How to Write an Ebook series to see how I did it and all the steps involved.
Would you say this post was helpful? Gave you some good ideas? If so, I'd be most obliged if you'd give me a thumbs up on Stumble Upon (or shared it via the links below)! Thank you!
There's lot more in part 2, Even More Ways To Make Money Online. And if you have any tips or ideas, by all means, share in the comments!
Disclosure: I am compensated for purchases made via the referral links in this post. Here's my disclosure policy.