By Joseph Hogue
It’s truly a great time to be a work-from-home entrepreneur. The internet has opened up opportunities never dreamed possible just a couple decades ago.
Where it used to cost tens of thousands to start your own business, Holly pointed out earlier this year some great businesses that can be created with no budget at all.
But being successful in any of these opportunities means cutting through the myth of online income.
Everyone’s looking for that easy online income idea, but the truth is that making money online is a business just like any office job.
Making a business successful is about learning what products or services work for you and putting in the work to make it happen. Holly points out how difficult it is to start a profitable blog, especially if you don’t have a budget.
Finding the best ways to make money can be overwhelming in the unending multitude of 3 a.m. infomercials and get-rich schemes.
The beauty is that you don’t need dozens of ideas. Focusing on just a few proven income sources can set the foundation for your work from home business, and I have three of the best ways to make money online you’ll ever find.
1. Making Money on Other People's Products
One of the fastest ways to make money online is to sell other people's products through an affiliate relationship.
Affiliate marketing is where you refer readers or social media followers to products and services you’ve used. If the reader ends up buying the product, you get a set commission from the sale.
The benefit here is that it doesn’t take the time to create products yourself. You can concentrate on building traffic to your blog or a social media following that will find those products useful. Your commission on each sale varies depending on the affiliate, from a few dollars to hundreds.
There are a couple of downsides to affiliate marketing. The conversion rate on affiliate marketing, the percentage of readers that buy the product, is very low. Not only do they need to click on the link, but they also have to make a purchase within a month or two. That means you’ll usually only make one or two sales for every 100 readers.
Affiliate marketing is advertising, and that’s a slippery slope in itself. Never push products or services that don’t genuinely help your readers. Trust is your most valuable asset as a blogger or brand ambassador. Destroy that, and you’ll never make real money.
I’ve made $36,649 from affiliate marketing in the last 12 months, just under half of the $83,065 total I’ve made from five blogs and freelancing.
Getting started with affiliates is easy. You can join affiliate networks like CJ Affiliates that connect publishers with advertisers. You can also do a Google search for [products or companies] and ‘affiliate program.’
Once you get approved for a program, you’ll get a link you can include in your posts or social messages to promote the product.
Keys to Making Money with Affiliates
- Monthly income from affiliates is volatile as your traffic varies and as different products sell better at different times of the year. Find a few various products you can promote to smooth out your income.
- Reviews and demonstrations work best because they show precisely how readers can use and benefit from the product. Try combining a blog post with a video demonstration of the affiliate.
- Don’t feel like you need to sign up for every affiliate available. The majority of your income will probably come from just a few products that are super helpful and hyper-targeted to your readers’ needs.
- Don’t waste your time with graphic banners. Readers usually just ignore them as commercials. Link the name of the company and include your link in a call-to-action within your post.
2. My Favorite Passive Income Source
This next income source is easily my favorite. I’ve often wondered if I should have just stuck exclusively with this last income source, focusing only on it instead of trying to juggle other income sources.
This last income source is almost entirely passive after you set it up and you can create a new product every three months.
It’s self-publishing. It’s a natural fit for bloggers and one of the most passive sources of income I’ve found.
I’ve published 10 books over the last couple of years. The books have earned $21,803 over the previous year for an average of about $1,800 per month. It might not seem like much, but it adds up fast considering how quickly you can add new books to your self-published library.
Self-publishing is a natural fit for bloggers because you’re already creating content around a theme. You’re becoming an expert in a niche and can turn that expertise into an entire series of books.
Use this strategy that makes publishing a book an easy, three-month process:
- Brainstorm your book idea, including the transformation you want readers to experience and what they need to know.
- Research other books on Amazon, looking through descriptions and chapter titles to get ideas of what to put in your book. Check out the reviews to see what readers liked and what else they wanted.
- Outline 8 – 10 chapters from the title through sections and critical information.
- Over the next few of months, write a chapter or two a week and publish it to your blog. This will keep you on schedule to finish your book.
- When the chapters are complete, put them together and add a little extra content just for book readers.
- Go back through and update each blog post with a call-to-action and a link to your Amazon book page. Those posts are going to be ranking on Google search, bringing people who are interested in your book to your blog. It turns your blog into an easy marketing channel for the book.
After launching each book, I spend about $20 on Amazon advertising each month. I have a few social media shares that go out regularly with the book link but do nothing else to promote them. The books bring in a consistent income I can count on every month with almost no ongoing effort.
3. Taking Your Online Income to the Next Level
There’s a rule of thumb in online income. You can make quick money through advertising and affiliate partnerships, but the real money is in your own products.
I’ve seen it in transitioning from affiliates to spending more time on self-publishing and am just beginning to make the transition to the next level, online courses.
Self-publishing is great, but you’ll make about $3 per copy sold. The upside is that you benefit from Amazon’s billions of monthly views to sell hundreds of copies of your books.
But why not make $300 per sale?
This is the idea behind creating a video course. It takes longer to develop your course, and you probably won’t make as many sales, but you only need a few sales to make thousands a month.
Creating a great video course isn’t as difficult as it seems. If you can create a book, you can turn it into a video course of the material. Not only can you turn a video course into stable monthly income, but it will build your brand for sponsorship opportunities and even more money.
Key Tips for Making Money with Video Courses
- Courses don’t need to require weeks of students’ time. Think of your course in terms of the transformation you’re trying to produce in students and the quickest way to get them there.
- Invest a little money to give your courses quality audio and video. This means using a quality webcam or DSLR camera and a digital microphone.
- People don’t buy information; they buy the transformation. Remember that when creating and promoting your course. What is the change you want to create?
- Be conversational. Nobody wants to sit through three hours of flat instruction. Share your personal stories within the theme.
- Keep it exciting and engaging with different media throughout the course. Use some talking head videos, PowerPoint presentations, screenshare walk-throughs, and even animated sequences to keep your students engaged.
These aren’t the only sources for online income but are three on which you can center your work-from-home business. Each of these three income ideas is at least partially passive, meaning you’ll continue to make money each month even as you move on to the next product. Don’t rely on just one income source. Diversify your monthly income for reliable and substantial cash flow.
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Joseph Hogue worked as an equity analyst and an economist before realizing being rich is no substitute for being happy. He now runs five websites in the personal finance and crowdfunding niche, makes more money than he ever did at a 9-to-5 job and loves building his work from home business. A veteran of the Marine Corps, he now lives in Colombia with his wife and son.