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Ways to Make Money Online – The Complete Guide

This is not a guide about making quick money online but it is a complete guide to understand ways to make money online. There aren’t any turn key solutions that I know off works and you need to setup your own business online to make decent money online. It is a long term process.

  1. Blogging
  2. Freelancing
  3. Consulting Services
  4. Affiliate Marketing
  5. Product Creation
  6. Online Auctions
  7. Online Forums
  8. Niche Sites
  9. Membership Sites
  10. Website Flipping

1. Blogging

Everybody is blogging. At the time of writing this article WordPress.com Stats say they host more than 73 million+ blogs.

Blogging is one of the best ways to setting up business online and make money out of it because it leads to multiple source of income. You can use blogging to

  1. Promote your product or services
  2. Get freelancing opportunities
  3. Network with like minded people to promote your products
  4. Make affiliate sales

And the list continues but the ideas of making money from blog is based on the principle of generating value to your blog reader first and then possibly monetize your blog. Blogging is a long-term money making option where you provide values to your blog readers and then monetize your blog but many new bloggers try to monetize blog very early and in the process fail miserably.

Blogger by Google can be wrong choice to getting started with blogging and see why here. If you want to get started to blogging check out my step by step guide to getting started with WordPress

2. Freelancing

Freelancing is one of the most effective ways to make money online. In fact it is one of those few ways to making money online where you can start cashing in from the day one.

August 11, 2010 is when I shared my $10,000 milestone in elance. 20 months from that post this is what my elance account stands at.

Approximately $500 per month doing freelancing through Elance and yet freelancing is not something I am very actively focusing in 2012.

We all have certain skills and expertise. It is about realizing the expertise and then helping people with it and making money out of it. If you think you don’t have those skills that can help you make money online, you can work on developing them. I was more of a C++ programmer in college days and in my job profiles but as of today most of my freelancing income is by optimizing vBulletin for large forums or marketing and traffic generation for websites.

There are several sites to get started with freelancing and the most popular ones are Elance.com, ODesk.com or vWorker.com

3. Consulting Services

In my wildest of dream also I could not imagine myself being a consultant for finance and as of today I also think that I should not be the person to consult on financials because I don’t have formal education and till date I admit that I am not aware of many investment option myself. Yet I see lot of my blog readers asking for my consultation services. It is one of those pages of my blog that is not very actively promoted by me and yet I see so many people asking for my consultation service.

This is yet another way to making money online and it is yet another example of developing your skills. I learned trading in market because I wanted to trade and profit in market. Once I started making profit in market I shared it on my blog transparently and readers could relate their trading losses with mine. Now they want me to be their mentor and teacher. I never thought I would write an eBook on finance and this is the opening line of my eBook as well.

It is very important to build credibility online (See Simple Tips to Build Credibility and Trust). The more trusted you are, it becomes that much more easier for you to offer consulting services online.

4. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is great way to make money online but when you talk about Affiliate marketing people think it is:- Find a product to promote and then register a keyword-rich domain name related to that product. Copy one page review from product site itself or somewhere else and then start spamming in blogs and forums about the one page website to generate traffic and backlinks.

I don’t like to call it as affiliate marketing but it is spamming.

Affiliate marketing is more about reviewing and recommending products that you would like to be associated with. As an example I recommend lot of resources here at IMTips and it is not because I want to be making money from those recommendations but because I use them myself to make money online.

Let us take example of Elance.com under freelancing way of making money online. I recommended Elance because it has helped me make $20,000. I would be paid only $1 if someone sign up at Elance as developer with free membership but the recommendation is not because of the commission it will generate but because I think if it has worked for me it is more likely to work for others and I don’t mind endorsing Elance. There are many other freelancing sites that would pay much higher than Elance but unless I have used them personally, I would not recommend them.

You don’t necessarily need to practice unethical marketing to make money from affiliate products. You can make lot of money doing affiliate marketing promoting good and genuine products.

5. Product Creation

What if a niche does not offer any genuine product that you can endorse? It is not something that should discourage you but instead it is an opportunity for you to come up with really good product for you blog.

Indian market don’t have any product that teaches people about technical analysis online but there are thousand of stock tippers who provide stock tips that can make people millionaire if they pay them few hundreds every month. Instead of promoting those stock tips services on my technical analysis blog for an affiliate commission I preferred creating a product that can help my blog readers understand market in a better way.

A secret way to make lot more sales and make more money online is by adding more value to your product by adding bonuses. Bonus can be anything like a personal one on one interaction with you for an hour or offering free access to private member area of your site or an audio version of your eBook etc.

6. Online Auctions

You can make money online by selling items on eBay. Let me share my experience of 2004 to make money from eBay.

In 2004 GMail was launched and you could only create account if you had an invite. So I purchased a GMail invite for $2.5 in eBay.

Once I had my GMail account, I remember correctly that I got 6 invites to share and decided to sell them in eBay. The process I followed was to sell 5 invites and create a new account with the 6th one to get more invites to sell.

If I remember correctly I generated more than $25 in the process. Nothing big but those were my starting days into making money online. Apart from that in 2004 I remember that PayPal was virtual money for Indians i.e. you could not withdraw money to your bank account in India but still I was fine making money in PayPal to spend on things online.

The idea is to see the items selling on auctions site like eBay and see if you can also sell those items. I have seen people order Goods from China and sell them on eBay but I don’t suggest doing it.

7. Online Forums

Online forums is yet another way to making money online but it is yet another method with lot of misconceptions. I see lot of new forums coming up but the second step after making it live is to add Google Adsense everywhere they can. The focus should be to generate user engagement and content first and then possibly try to monetize it.

I have shared a detail article on How to REALLY Make Money From Forum but remember that forums are comparatively more difficult to get going because you have to make sure members are around that can get the conversations started and drive other people to join the discussion. If you expect new members to get the ball rolling for you, that will never happen. You have to take needed steps to generate lot of content for your members to interact.

8. Niche Sites

Niche sites is something which I am experimenting and so I will recommend you article by Pat Flynn on How to Build Niche Sites which is undoubtedly the best article on internet for building niche sites.

9. Membership Sites

Membership site’s is yet another avenue for me to explore but you can read How to Launch membership sites by the best in the business Yaro Starak.

10. Website Flipping

I purchased CodeItWell from DigitalPoint in August 2008.

The purchase was not for flipping website for profit but was mainly to add more technical sites to my list of web properties and so flipping website is not something I can talk about with great conviction. If flipping website for profit is something that is done successfully by many webmasters and if it is something that interests you, you can read about How To Buy A Website And Flip It For Profit by Yaro Starak

Final Thoughts

What’s your preferred way to make money online? What other methods you want to add to the list? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments below!

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  • veren

    Hi Shabir.
    It was a pleasure reading your article. It was quite precise and to the point.

    I am looking to start FORUM and rightly pointed by you that we need to have content that can interest the members first. But I think once it gets going , it can create autometed content.. What do you say?
    Also, Do i need a detail expertise to start a forum or can I can use the ready made scripts available in the market.??
    Thanks and proud to be an Indian.


  • Again a very impressive article, thanks for sharing your hard earned knowledge and experience. I realize I have a lot to learn. 😉

  • All are nice ways to make money online thank you shabbir.

  • I want to know about earn and i search in google how to earn from internet and i get get result your site. Really your site is helpful for me.

    • The pleasure is all mine Mehedi Hasan.

  • I have no words to say ,first time i am seeing a person from India doing all .

    • That is a big complement but methods I have described above are independent of GEO location.

  • Mayank Jain

    Ohh my god. You actually earned money by selling GMail invites as well. Notable thing is you found an opportunity in it. Simply genius. 😀

    • So nice of you for those words.

  • Dev Narang

    All I can say is Awesome article. I have couple of question in my mind. How much time it takes for you to write such articles and do you actually write them or there are writers who get these articles written for you?

    Many bloggers would just make 300 to 400 word article saying 10 ways to making money online and don’t explain in so much detail with example of each of the method.

    Would like to add one more way to make money online which is online surveys. Can you share a post about online surveys to make money online.

    • Hi Dev, thanks for your feedback on the article and let me answer each of them.

      1. It took me almost 15 hours to get this article completed.

      2. Yes I actually write them and don’t have any writers to get that done for me.

      3. Online surveys is not something that has worked for me and I have not seen anybody make a fortune out of it and so I am not sure if I can share any success story about online surveys but will keep an eye on other blogs and see if I can find something to share with you.

      • Dev Narang

        Thanks for quick answer Shabbir

  • I used to make some cash out of arbitrage. (Oh No!! Not Adsense Arbitrage, that’s in fact posses the risk of being kicked out).
    I used products on Amazon and eBay.

    • Abhik, yes arbitrage is good way to generate cash online. 😀

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