Common Ways to Make Money Online

how to make money online

In this post, we will focus on the most common ways that websites make money and give you a quick overview of how easy they are to implement and maintain. Keep in mind that the guidelines we provide can fluctuate depending on the type of product or service that you sell.

Display Advertising

Display advertising is one of the oldest methods for making money and is used for brick and mortar businesses as well as online websites. Your website is the billboard and other companies will pay you to show an ad that promotes their own company or products.

  • Easy to set up

    There are plenty of free plugins that will help you add advertising to the sidebars, footers, and inside the content of your website.

  • Fixed visitor value for impression based advertising

    Each person that views the add will net you a specific amount of money.
  • Visitor value is usually pretty low

    Your blog needs enough traffic before you can make money

  • Need advertising that matches your visitors

    For click-based advertising (you only get paid when someone clicks on an ad) you need to find an advertising partner that is relevant for your audience.

Asking For Donations

I’m not suggesting you panhandle. It is common for bloggers to have donation or ‘tip’ jars that accompany their blog posts. If someone reads your blog and loves what you are doing they may feel like they want to give back to you by donating a little money. This is no different than tipping a waiter for great service or a barista for awesome latte art. Don’t expect to get hundreds of dollars per tip, but with enough visitors it may work for you.

  • Easy to set up

    There are plenty of services where you can create a 1-click donation link.
  • No administration

    Once you have the link on your site (on the sidebar or footer) you don’t have to think about it. Every new blog post that you write will have the donation link already inserted.
  • Visitor value is usually pretty low

    While you will find some good patrons every so often, your conversion rate and visitor value will be low so you will need a fair amount of traffic.

This is very similar to selling advertising space, but it isn’t necessarily a graphic advertisement. You may get contacted by companies that want to list their website on one of your pages to help promote their brand. The goal is for your visitors to click on the link and go to their website. This may be good for you if the companies that are buying link space do not compete with you. Your visitors may appreciate linking to additional resources that they can visit that provide them value.In our experience, selling links is usually done on a monthly basis so you can get recurring income and opt-out of the link if you no longer want to display it.

  • Easy to set up

    You are already adding links in your content so it isn’t a lot of work to add additional links to the sidebar or footer.
  • Recurring income

    Once you have a large enough blog, links can be sold for $50+ a month.
  • Harder to maintain.

    You will need to keep track of all the links that you have sold on your website and when to either ask for more money or remove them.
  • Need to spend time verifying links

    There are a lot of spammy and illicit companies that will buy links. You will need to vet all the prospective buyers and make sure you are linking to a reputable source.

Selling Guest Posts (Sponsored Posts)

Another common tactic for selling advertising space is to post articles that other people have written. Your buyer will write an article that is relevant to your visitors and you will post it on your blog. What’s in it for them? They will usually include a few links back to their site or a product/service that they are promoting. This is similar to selling a link, but it isn’t as noticeable because it is embedded inside the text of article.

  • Free content

    If you find good buyers, you can get free relevant content for your visitors.
  • High conversion value

    It is common for guest posts to bring in $50+ per post.
  • One time payments

    You usually only get paid once to publish the article so there isn't monthly revenue.
  • Lots of low quality submissions

    This is a pretty common advertising tactic, so there are a lot of outsourced articles that aren’t very professional. Don’t be afraid to say no if the quality isn’t up to your standards.The articles could take visitors away from your site through the links in the guest post.

Offer Premium Content

Most blogs give away all of their content. They make the content easily accessible through search engines or social media and once the visitors are already on your site they find a way to make money. Premium content is a slightly different model where you offer different content if people pay a fee. This could be a recurring subscription or a one-time membership fee. I have seen plenty of blogs that offer rare information (such as industry secrets) that isn’t usually available. The content is either emailed to them or is accessed through a login/password.

  • Good source of recurring income

    If you are an expert in a particular topic, you can come up with a ton of great content to release under a premium content section.
  • Free is the default

    Most people expect to get things for free. You have to sell them on how great the content is before they will buy it.
  • May discourage building a community

    You might discourage visitors that are coming to your blog for the free content because they know you are holding some information away from them.

Building an Email List

You always hear the stories of how salesmen are known by the size of their Rolodex. Online marketing isn’t too different. It is all about making connections and interacting with the people that visit your blog. Building an email list is a great way to start building a community of people that you can offer products or services to in the future. You can also start building an email list without having a product to sell. Once you have one, you can go back and let your audience know about it.

  • Easy to set up

    You don’t need to have a product or service to sell before you can start to make money.
  • Fills the sales pipeline

    People who sign up on your mailing list are good candidates for future sales because they like your blog enough to connect with you.
  • Won't sign up for free

    You need some incentive to get people to opt-in to your email list. A weekly newsletter or ebook is a great way to get started.
  • Delayed income

    You will need to resell products or services to the people on your mailing list in the future to start making money.

Selling Physical Products

You don’t have to be Amazon.com to sell physical goods online. There are thousands of bloggers that have their own stores and sell items to their visitors. People are happy to buy products from people that they trust and establishing yourself as an authority with your blog is a great way to get people to trust you and the products you sell. Selling products will take a little more work to get started since you will need to set up a store, payments, shipping, etc. But, if you have a good niche this can be a great option for you.

  • High conversion value

    The profit margins on physical goods is higher than advertising so you don’t need to sell a lot items to make good money. 
  • You can tailor your store to your blog

    You don’t have to worry about making sure that the advertising or posts that you are selling are something that interests your audience.
  • More work to set up

    There are a lot of pieces that need to be in place before you can sell your first product.
  • Hard to scale

    If you are successful, can you ship 10,000 physical goods a week? You will have to learn quite a bit if you want to grow very big.

Selling Digital Products/Services

Selling digital products or services is a great way to get started making money online. There is a lot of information on the internet, but it can be hard to find a reputable source that has everything you need all in one place. This course is a great example of selling a digital product and service online, but you can also sell eBooks, Tutorials, Guides, and Videos. It really depends on the market.

  • High margins

    It may take a lot of time to develop a product or service to sell. But, once it is built there isn’t a lot of ongoing cost needed to sell it. The 1st sale doesn’t cost you any more than the 1,000th.
  • Easy to scale

    Technology for accepting payments and sending digital products allows entrepreneurs to sell to millions of people as easily as they can sell to 1.
  • There is a lot of information for free

    Most people expect free. The reality is that there is a ton of great, free content available online. If you are asking people to pay for the content, you create you need to give them a good reason to do it. You need to solve a problem that they are having when trying to learn for free.
  • Large time commitment to start

    You will need to create a full service or product to sell before you can sell the 1st copy of it. This may take months depending on how big of a product you are making.

Reviewing Other Products/Services

A recommendation from a blogger with a lot of traffic is worth a lot and companies will pay big money for it. A company will either send you a physical product or services or give you access to their digital product free of charge. They will ask you to use it and write a blog post on it and share it with your visitors. You get free ideas for content and they get more visitors to buy their product if your recommendation is good.

  • High conversion value

    You can get paid $100s of dollars for reviewing a product and you get to keep it free of charge.

  • Free ideas for content

    If you review products that are interesting to your readers, you can not only make money from the product’s company, but you can also give your readers good information.
  • One time payment

    You will get paid for posting the article, but may not receive any recurring commissions for people who buy the product through your recommendation.
  • Hard to scale

    You want to be careful not to give all your visitors away to other sites. Make sure to have a balance between paid posts designed to make money and your own posts dedicated to building your community.

Promoting Products as an Affiliate

This is one of the most common ways that bloggers can make money, but there is still plenty of room for more people to make use of it. Companies will give you a link to their product that has a special tag in it so that they know where visitors came from who click on the link. If one of your visitors purchases a product after clicking on your link you will get a portion of the sale price. This could be as low as 4% for physical goods or as much at 50% for some online products and services.

  • You are in control of your content

    You can decide what to write about and insert affiliate links into the content of your posts if it benefits your readers.
  • Easy to use
    It is as simple as signing up with an affiliate program and using special links in your text.
  • Harder to find the right product

    It is easy to get caught up in making 50%+ on the sale of someone else’s product, but you need to make sure it is high quality and something your visitors will find useful. You don’t want to recommend something that is going to fail.
  • More competition

    Since this method is a staple for making money online, there is more competition for each product you are selling. You can still be successful, but you will have to put in the time to find the right product and marketing for it.

Selling Your Blog

Believe it or not, there are a lot of blogs that are started just to resell later. There is an art and science to finding good topics to blog about that are lucrative and if you can find topics that attract a lot of visitors you can sell your site once it is large enough just like a normal business. I definitely don’t recommend this for new bloggers.

  • Good money if you are good at it

    If you are good at starting blogs and building great content you can make money in the same way that people flip houses.
  • Large sale price

    It isn’t uncommon for large blogs to sell for $100,000+ to the right buyer.
  • Lose steady income

    If you depend on your blog to generate monthly income, you won’t have it after you sell your blog.
  • Letting go

    A lot of us build our blogs out of passion and letting that go is very hard. If you love what you do it isn’t something you want to give up.

This list covers how to make money online and they are a good way to start if you are new to blogging. But, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. New ways of making money online are coming out every day. You should always focus on building your community and increasing the number of visitors to your site. That way, you can use whichever monetization is right for you.

We didn't go too deep because a lot of these method aren't great for beginners. We will use the remaining lessons in this module to take a deeper look into specific ways to make money that you can use on your blog including the ways that we used in our first blogs. Let's start with Display Advertising.