By Ashlee Anderson
Every day, people turn their attention online to earn money. Artists use platforms like Etsy or TeeSpring to sell one-of-a-kind creations. Designers have storefronts on Fiverr to make a quick buck. Writers use any number of marketplaces to put their words to work. Even photographers sell their snapshots to large stock photo sites to earn passive income.
These are all tried and true ways to make money online, bringing in varying amounts of income from fun money to full-time wages.
But for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, setting up a money-making website may be a better route to take instead of relying on other sites to bring in the bucks for you.
While launching and maintaining a website may seem time-consuming, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, when you pick a narrow niche and place emphasis on passive income streams, you can create your money-making website in what little free time you may have each week.
Google is great when you’re looking to gather general information on a subject. But when you’re looking for something very specific, a directory site can save you a lot of time, energy, and effort going from one random search result to the next.
A good example of this is HappyCow.net, a popular directory site that helps vegans and vegetarians quickly locate animal-friendly eats at nearby restaurants.
The right niche is key to having a successful directory site in a short amount of time. Ideally, you’ll aim for a subject in which you are already experienced. For example, a parent might create a directory site that lets moms and dads locate free, kid-friendly activities any day of the week. Or perhaps a teacher might want to set up a directory site that helps first-year educators find free resources to use in lesson plans no matter what grade they teach.
The right niche for you depends on your unique interests and existing knowledge. If a niche isn’t jumping out at you, take a look at some of the most popular directory sites for a little extra inspiration.
How to Monetize a Directory Site:
- Charge businesses to list their website
- Offer upgraded or featured listings for an additional fee
- Allow businesses to ‘claim’ their listing
- Use a plugin that allows companies or websites to submit their own listings
- Opt for a theme specifically built for directories
- Use a payment platform, like PayPal, which handles transactions for you
FlexJobs, CareerBuilder, and Indeed are three of the most popular job boards out there. But since they list every type of job from freelance to full time and cover all industries, it can be difficult to narrow down a search to particular careers or location-specific listings.
That’s why job seekers in defined industries or locales may prefer to make the most of their job search using niche job boards. These job boards often focus on particular locations or industries like hospitality, human resources, administrative, etc.
For example, Aunt Minnie is a popular niche job board for pros in the radiology field. When an x-ray tech or imaging professional is on the hunt for a new job, they know they can find exactly what they’re looking for when searching here versus repeatedly narrowing their search on much larger job sites.
Before you launch a job board, think of a niche that relates to your professional experience. If you have a background in law, consider setting up a niche job board for legal administrative pros. Social media experience could help you launch a job board for the growing number of social media managers and content moderators.
The more defined your job board’s niche, the easier it will be to monetize it and gain traction when just starting out.
How to Monetize a Job Board:
- Charge employers to submit listings in 30-day increments
- Offer featured job listings for an additional charge
- Charge job seekers a monthly fee to view listings or post their resume
- Promote sponsored jobs from larger job boards’ publisher programs, like Indeed or Jobs2Career
- Use the free WordPress Job Manager plugin to create your job board
- Select a theme specifically built to handle front-end job submissions
- Consider purchasing a paid-for plugin that “backfills” jobs for you
- Use a payment gateway like PayPal or Stripe to handle transactions
When thinking of e-commerce, large online retailers like Amazon or Walmart likely come to mind. But e-commerce is a super broad term that can apply to everyone who sells online from solo handmade artists to small boutiques and big-name brands.
You too can set up an online shop without having to invest a lot of time upfront. It’s all about what you choose to sell and how you sell it.
Selling digital products is one of the easiest ways to set up shop without having to keep physical inventory on hand. Since these goods can be downloaded automatically after payment, you can passively make sales anytime, day or night.
How to Monetize an E-commerce Site:
- Sell digital downloads like printables, designs, stock photos, ebooks, etc.
- Join affiliate networks and promote related products
- Sign up for ad networks for additional revenue
- Consider a paid-for platform, like Shopify, to manage your storefront for you
- Automate the delivery of digital goods using a plugin or Shopify app
- Use a payment processor that handles transactions for you
Freelance Service Site:
An estimated 1 in 3 workers currently earns at least some of their income freelancing. These freelancers sell services to clients on a per-project basis or charge an hourly rate to perform tasks.
Some of the most in-demand freelance services include:
Of course, that’s just a short list of some popular freelance services that sell well. You can launch a freelance service site selling any number of services. Even particular hobbies, like creative writing, photography, and design can quickly turn into successful freelance side businesses!
How to Monetize a Freelance Site:
- Sell services on an hourly or per-project basis
- Create digital goods for sale related to your niche like ebooks or workbooks
- Offer one-on-one coaching and consultation services
- Consider launching a WordPress site using a portfolio theme
- Set up a blog on your site to showcase your talent and ‘advertise’ your services
- Promote posts on social media by creating eye-catching images via Canva
- Use automation tools, like Buffer, BoardBooster, or HootSuite to schedule your social posts
- Create a pitching template you can use whenever contacting prospective clients
Many bloggers start blogging as a side business and organically grow into full-time. You can too. The quickest way to success when starting your blog is to pick a niche you know and love.
When it comes to blogging, there are a lot of different niches to consider–fashion, food, coupons, careers–you name it, and you can blog about it. While it may be tempting to go with a niche you think may be profitable, you should stick with a subject you know and love. This allows you to write with authority and enthusiasm which leads to truly share-worthy content that readers will love. And creating great content will be the driving force behind your blog’s success!
Keep in mind, blogging income doesn’t start rolling in overnight. But when it does, you’ll find much of what you earn is passive, which frees you up to focus on growth and content development. If you make it a habit to work on your blog in your free time, you’ll find you can make progress week after week until you can finally go full-time.
How to Monetize a Blog:
- Join affiliate networks and promote offers that fall within your niche
- Sell display ads on your site
- Sign up for ad networks like Adsense or Media.net
- Create digital downloads and sell them on autopilot
- Use an editorial calendar to keep your blog’s content on track
- Make use of social media schedulers like Tailwind, Buffer, or Hootsuite
- Invest in a course that will guide you through blogging best practices
Start Your Own Site in Your Spare Time:
No matter what type of money-making website you decide to launch, always try to choose a niche that plays to your strengths and interests. Doing so allows you to build a site around topics you enjoy, so working on your site is something you look forward to – not a chore!
Plus, with the number of automation tools available and the possibility of passive income, many websites can be monetized on autopilot. This gives you more time to focus on creating great content that helps your site grow quickly.
Remember, while you don’t need a ton of time to start a website, you should dedicate at least some time to your site each week. As with most things in life, the more you put into your money-making website, the more you’ll get out of it.
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Ashlee Anderson is a freelance writer, blogger and gig economy enthusiast who enjoys the freedom and flexibility of working remotely. After starting a note taking business in college, she’s continued to work for herself as a solopreneur ever since. Today, Ashlee continues to embrace solopreneurship and the endless possibilities to make money as an independent worker. She encourages others to ‘think outside the cubicle’ so they too can find happiness in working on their own terms. Follow along with Ashlee over at Work from Home Happiness where she shares plenty of practical advice, ideas, and beginner-friendly ways for freelancers, solopreneurs, and remote workers to use their existing skills and experience to earn a living from home.
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