The internet can be a great way to make money from home.
It can also be a nightmare.
Here are the pros and cons of two ways to make money online…there will be more coming!
We’re still in the very earliest stages of the development of the Web and, frankly, much of it is like the Wild West. There are rich and easy pickings to be had for some but there are also a lot of dangerous pitfalls to trap the unwary and far too many sharks circling around for comfort!
I’m looking at several ways that people can safely make money online. When I say ‘safely’ I have to point out that nothing is completely safe online: there are hackers around, people who want to steal your details and your contacts, technical glitches that can hit anyone and strange behaviour by search engines and other online agencies that can make your traffic, and therefore your profit, drop like a stone.
However, one of the truly excellent aspects of the internet is that it’s relatively easy for anyone to create a website, use someone else’s website or be paid by another website pretty much for nothing…at least at the start.
So, unlike most offline businesses, you don’t need any money to start an online operation of some sort. There are free website templates, free (or very cheap) apps and tools you can use on your site (like a ‘shopping cart’, instant ads and videos to embed in your site) and the field is wide open for anyone to set up a site about anything (and lets face it, they do!).
So I’m gradually going into various different ways to make money online to see how much you could make, what the pitfalls are and what the best ways are to make money safely in these ways.
Can you make money by blogging?
Some people do.
Most people don’t make much if any money from their blogs, but if you have an interest in a particular subject and you would like to create your own website about it, blogging is the cheapest and easiest way to do it. Even if you don’t make money from it, at least you could have fun doing it!
We have a lot of information on how to make money blogging here, but if you’re interested in doing this, first take a look at blogs by other people, particularly those by your friends or people you admire. The web is changing all the time and every month there are new formats, new ideas and new things you can do with your business so you find different ideas in other people’s creations which you could adapt for your own.
One key thing to be aware of with blogging is that it can take a lot of time to get noticed and get the traffic. However, some people are doing very well with their blogs, if only in terms of the products and services they get for free for them.
For example, mummy-bloggers are becoming much more influential with a lot of major brands courting them, sending them products and taking them on trips abroad (seriously).
Travel bloggers are carving out a niche for themselves and, again, getting free trips abroad to review. Some do it entirely on video, others take a theme like sports tourism, eco-tourism or UK holidays only.
There are music bloggers (who get free tickets to gigs and lots of music to review), film bloggers, who also get to go to see films before everyone else, and a myriad of sports bloggers, some of whom get free tickets to games/matches (though you really need to get a decent following for that).
Really, you just need to pick your passion and go for it. Check out the article above and see my video here for ideas.
Can you do this?
Very much so. In fact there are more and more websites that you can piggy back on to make money for yourself.
In other words, there are various ‘marketplaces’ online where you can sell a few things here and there or even set up your own virtual market stall and sell items all day every day (and night).
On the whole they don’t charge an upfront fee, just a commission when you sell something, which is fair enough.
The main one that everyone knows about of course is eBay. There are others like it including eBid which has cheaper fees, by the way.
But did you know that you could make a decent living selling hand-made things through Etsy?
With eBay and the like you can sell things you make but those are better for selling vintage stuff, collectibles and new items such as gadgets or games. With Etsy you can sell things you’ve knitted, crocheted, sewed, painted, etched or stuck together! It’s a specialist site for people who make things and it’s becoming more and more popular.
Etsy does charge to list – $0.20 per item for four months which isn’t exactly extortionate. When you actually sell something, though, they take a 3.5% cut. Again, not horrendous given that they have a good site that does quite a lot of the work for you.
There are various other, similar craft-selling sites around too, so search the Web to see if you can find one that is better for you. For example, Artfire is a popular one for artists around the world, also the German Dawanda, and the home-grown Yokabu. None of this stops you from setting up your own site and selling stuff direct yourself but it can take a long time to build up the traffic you need to do real business so it’s a good idea to get onto some of these other sites as well as doing your own thing.
Here’s a quick one-minute guide that I put together for selling on other people’s websites.
If you’re really serious about setting up an online business you should see our 10-step plan for successful ecommerce here. There’s a lot to take in! But there’s also nothing to stop you just giving it a go on an amateur basis to start off with and only turning it into a serious business once you start to make serious cash. Give it a go!
For more information, take a look at this useful step-by-step guide to starting an online business.