Today I'm going to answer the question, "How do people make money online?"
There is a vast world out there where people are buying and selling things online. It's common with retail sites like Amazon, that you can order something online and have it shipped to you.
But there is another new movement -a culture- of establishing businesses with online revenue and online sales, without physical products being shipped. Today, I want to share some of those ways you can make money online. A lot of people that I know, personally, still don't know that this world exists.
It wasn't until I got online and started talking to people internationally, in Facebook groups and through the different things I was doing, that I realized that there were a lot of like-minded people out there trying to make a business for themselves. When I talk about this stuff to some of my friends and family, they have no idea this world is out there.
Some of these ideas might work well for you, and some might not. The key to all of this is finding out what it is you like to do; what you're passionate about.
For instance, I really don't like handling physical products. I tried doing the thing where I would buy some cheap stuff from garage sales, or maybe find it on sale somewhere, and reselling it for a profit. Now, other people may love to do that. They might be collectors or enjoy going to garage or yard sales to find antiques or other valuable items. They enjoy the process of acquiring and holding those things and shipping them to buyers. But that isn't something that appeals to me.
I like digital products, which is what this show’s about. With digital assets, I don't have to stock inventory. I don't have to worry about shipping, or breakage, or making trips to the post office. And I can make sales even when I’m away from my business. It’s simply the model I prefer.
Even though we’ll talk about many different ways you can make money online to give you ideas, this blog will revolve around digital assets and digital products. These include things like information, files, applications, and other digital assets, rather than hard goods or services.
The first way to make money online is digital products, which I mentioned above. Digital products can be any kind of electronic file or information that can be exchanged with customers for money. This could be, for example, something like an online course, or a software application.
As I mentioned, digital products are my favorite, because you don't have to worry about inventory. They do, however, come with their own set of challenges. For example, if you're selling software, you need developers (unless you do all development yourself) and you might have to have a support team. But it's a really great thing to get started with. There's a lot of easy things that you can create.
When I first started in this business, I was working in computer animation, in which I had a degree. I was learning through various sites on how to use a program called Blender. As I was learning, I realized that people were selling training online.
So, if you wanted to hone your skills or figure out how to do something new, you could buy online training for $27, $37, $47...whatever the price was. The first one I found was created by Andrew Price of blenderguru.com, who I talked about in a previous installment. He had a book called The Wow Factor, a PDF book that taught you how to make some really awesome effects with this computer animation software.
I got that book, and realized, “I can't believe I just bought something that is just a digital file on the computer.” That’s all it was. I couldn’t touch it or hold it, but I had it on my computer to read. And it provided value: it taught me how to do something.
The value to me of that book and learning that material was greater than the price he was asking so I purchased it. At the end of the day, that's all any sales are. Someone (the customer) sees a product and weighs out whether it’s worth the money that he or she is investing in.
At the end of the day, that's all any sales are. Someone (the customer) sees a product and weighs out whether it’s worth the money that he or she is investing in.
For example, do I really need this hundred dollar suit? Well, is this a hundred dollar suit going to give me more value than $100? Is it going to make me look better, feel better about myself, or even get the job I'm looking for? I have to weigh those factors when I buy a suit, which is the same principle for digital products. If customers see the value as greater than the price, they’ll make the purchase.
It's a constant weighing of whether the item in question provides more benefit than the cost. So when I bought Andrew’s book, this digital file, it had no inherent value. I mean, it's basically ones and zeros, not even a couple of megabytes. And it's a PDF book, so I had to read it. it wasn't someone teaching me. But whatever the cost was ($37, $47, etc.) it was important enough to me to pay for it and learn those skills. And when I did, I thought, "Man, this is really cool."
I ended up buying more training, not just from Andrew, but from other people who were teaching the software. This was several years ago when they would even send out a DVD. But you could also get the training online.
When I learned about this, it was powerful, because I understood that you're able to sell digital files, to create things and sell them online.
Now that could be training or information like in this example, or it could be something creative like music. People need music for their online courses, podcasts, commercials, advertisements or even videos, trailers, movies, etc.
So if you love writing and performing music, you can create music to sell online.
If you like photography, you can take a bunch of photos, and sell them online. Customers need stock photography for blogs, websites, brochures, and presentations, and they’d rather buy instantly online than have to take or commission the photos themselves.
If you like doing 3d art and animation, you can create 3d models, special effects, textures, level designs, online courses, and more.
If you like to write, you can create books, training, ebooks. There are so many different digital products that you can create and a whole world that’s a potential market. If you're hearing about this concept for the first time, I know it's kind of crazy. But there are a lot of people making a lot of money this way. And it's really an awesome thing.
My personal favorite product is online courses because I believe that everyone knows something they can teach. You can teach something! Whether you realize it or not, there's something you know how to do that someone else doesn't know how to do. and would like to learn. You can a) teach how to do that, and b) if the information is valuable enough, people will pay you money for providing it.
That's a basic rundown on digital products, which is just one way of making money online. I want to talk about some other ways that are also pretty common.
Affiliate sales are a way of making money by recommending a company or product to others using your own platform.
So it's a commission-based system in which if someone has a product, they want to get into as many people's hands as possible. They have calculated a percentage they can give to you if you make a sale for them.
So what does that mean?
Say, I have the software and I charge $100 for each license. I could go out and try to find people to buy my software for a hundred bucks. But say you're an influencer on Instagram or YouTube and you have 100,000 people subscribe to your channel. I could approach you and say, "Hey, I will let you take 50% of the hundred dollars if you can make sales with your audience."
So you would become an affiliate. You would go and promote that product with your audience, and make 50% of the sale. So if you make $50 a sale and have 100 people buy through you, then you would make $5,000 off of selling someone else's product. (Note that these are sample numbers for simple math and may not represent realistic commissions).
What's great about this is that it's similar to selling digital products, except you don't have to create the product. You don't have to create the software, the files, the PDFs or the courses. Just find something that you like to use and that you're passionate about, and you can promote that product.
In my business, I use different kinds of software: online email marketing software, hosting software, etc., and I can tell people about them. As an affiliate for these companies, I can actually make money off of that.
You can find a listing of my favorite software, tools, and information on my Resources page, which contains both affiliate and non-affiliate links.
There are all kinds of affiliate products. If you're in the fitness and nutrition industry, or technology, there are many affiliate programs available. All kinds of industries have affiliate programs where you promote their product, and you can make sales.
Affiliate Program: Amazon Associates
One of the most common ways to start with affiliate sales is to become an Amazon Associate.
The Amazon.com affiliate program, called Amazon Associates, works the same way as the example above, only instead of driving people to software or a creator’s website, you're driving them to a specific product on Amazon. If someone buys that product from Amazon through the link that you send them to, you get a commission (a percentage of the sale).
This opens up a whole world because most people are already buying things on Amazon. So, let's say that you enjoy fishing. You can create a fishing website, podcast or YouTube channel, talking about all things fishing. And maybe you do a review of your favorite fishing pole. At the end of the review, you tell people, "If you want to buy this fishing pole, click the link below."
So people click the link, it takes them to Amazon, and they buy that fishing pole. And you get a percentage of the sale of that fishing pole.
This was mind-blowing the first time I heard about it. I set up Amazon affiliate links on my old website and made some money just by recommending things I was using to make online courses.
I would say "Hey, I just bought this microphone, it's great. It sounds good for online courses, you should buy it."
Someone would click on my link, buy it through Amazon, which they trust because Amazon's a big company, and I would get a commission. So that's affiliate sales. You can do this for many different products. We'll probably talk more about affiliate sales on this blog because it fits in the realm of digital products and it's something I enjoy. I want to do more with affiliate sales, so as I begin experimenting and learning, I’ll share that with you.
Other Ways to Make Money Online
Selling and Reselling Physical Products
As I alluded to earlier, it’s possible to make money selling physical products online. You can start by finding stuff around your house to sell on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. This is a good way to get rid of items you no longer need and make a bit of money.
Since there’s probably a limit to how much of your own stuff you have to sell, many people make money “flipping” things. As I mentioned in the beginning, they'll go to a garage sale, rummage around and find something they think will sell for more online
People have created huge businesses by going to stores, finding sales, and buying a lot of products, and then putting it on Amazon as a supplier. Then whenever anyone buys that product, the business owner packages it, sends it to Amazon or ships directly to the buyer. When the sale transacts, they make some profit.
Another online forum for physical products is Etsy. If you are crafty or creative and enjoy making products of any type - you can sell those original creations to people who will enjoy them on Etsy. Products on Etsy can be pre-made or customized for the buyer.
These are just a few of the ways you can sell physical products online.
Dropshipping is a process by which you sell a product, but you don't have your hand in the manufacturing or distribution of it. There are different ways you can go about this.
One basic approach is to find companies that manufacture a product called white label products. And these are products that don't have any branding on them. Let's just say, for instance, you wanted to sell, kitchen knives or something like that. You could go find someone who would make this product for you, these kitchen knives, but they don't brand them. You can hire someone to create branding for the box, or label for you. But the company will manufacture the knives and ship them directly to the customer. All you have to do is set up a website and make sales.
I've heard many different ways people have done this. For example, I was listening to one story about someone who is doing inflatables. You know, those big jumpy houses you rent for kids' birthday parties? This person was amazing, making money off selling jumpy houses, but they never actually had any jumpy houses in their possession. They didn’t stock the inflatables, didn't have a warehouse. They contacted the manufacturer and had them send off the jumpy house when the business owner made a sale.
This person was acting as the middleman. They created the website, they advertised the products, they made the sale through their site. When they made a sale, they would turn to the manufacturer and give the buyer information (name, address, etc.). The manufacturer would deliver that jumpy house straight to the customer. And the middleman who's doing the drop shipping didn't actually have to deal with any of the physical product.
That's a cool business model, and I know people make a lot of money doing it.
But it's not something that really interested in me. I like it because you don't have to be hands-on with the products and have inventory. But it's something I never got into because I feel like you really need to learn that industry and understand your products. I didn't want to put in that much time because I'm into some other things. But if it interests you, dropshipping may be something you want to check out.
There are other ways that you can make money online by investing your time. You can do things like surveys, questionnaires, and reviews. Companies will pay you to take surveys online. Some will pay you to review websites or products: you give your feedback by talking into the computer camera or microphone, and saying what you like and don't like about a website or product.
You can also sell online services. Online services I use include things like graphic design, video editing, or audio editing for my courses. Or maybe it's voiceover work, transcribing something, or writing and editing. There are sites that facilitate customers finding these services and freelancers to make money providing them.
If you can offer services to individuals and businesses, you can sign up on these websites to connect with clients and sell your services to businesses and people who need them.
For instance, if you're a graphic designer, you can sign up on these sites, and tell people that you do graphic design--kind of like an online business card. If I have a business and I need someone to design a logo, I go to one of these websites and do a search for designers. If I find your profile and like your credentials, I could hire you. You would create the design for me and you'd make some money.
There are all different kinds of services you can provide. If you're a writer, artist, musician, programmer, developer...there are all kinds of different things that you can do to make money by selling your services online.
The last way of making money online I want to talk about today is advertising. This method includes any situation in which you are displaying ads in your space for third parties (other businesses) and getting paid for those ads.
For instance, if you have a YouTube channel with a big following, you can simply turn on advertisements through the YouTube platform. When someone watches one of your videos, an ad will pop up for the first minute or thirty seconds before the main content. Your YouTube channel will make money when the user watches the ad because the sponsor is paying for advertising and YouTube will pay you a percentage to show that to your audience. So if you have a YouTube channel, turning on advertisements is one way to make a little bit of money with each view.
Now, this works best if you have a large audience, because you need a lot of eyeballs on your ads. But there are other places you can have ads, too. You can have display ads from Google on your website or blog, and other platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are beginning to offer ad revenue programs as well.
If you have a podcast as I do, you could have a sponsorship or an advertisement playing in the middle. I have ads on my podcast, and anytime you listen through that ad, I'm making a little percentage of that.
Many Possibilities for Online Income
I want you to know that, if all this is new to you, it can be pretty exciting and a little overwhelming. There's a lot of information here: and we’re just getting started with how you can make money online.
I could probably list 101 different ways to do this (maybe in a future blog!). These are just some of the broad approaches: physical products, digital products, being an affiliate, surveys, selling your services online, and making money through advertising.
You need to think about what you would enjoy, what you like to do. Do you like creating? Providing services? Do you like dealing with physical products?
As you start learning about this stuff, I definitely suggest that you go further into it. Dig a little deeper and learn about it, because man, this is a great world, and a great time to be in it right now.
Online sales have changed my life personally, and I'm trying to spread the word to others. As we go along on this blog, we'll talk in-depth about different aspects of these ways to make money online. I may have guests come on who can explain things and answer your questions even better than I can.
I hope you're enjoying the blog, and that you’ll subscribe and share on social media and with your friends. Let me know what you think in the comments, or ask a question.
So I hope you got some good insight from this blog post, and look for the next one soon. Take care.