The internet is a little bit like the Wild West, with all manner of scams and scammers ready and waiting for their next victim. But somewhere out there in the wilderness, there are some genuine opportunities to make money online. We’re not talking about those ‘make £724 an hour’ get rich quick scams which are ubiquitous online, but genuine, tried and tested avenues to an income stream.
Of course, nothing in this world comes for free. If you want to make money online you’re going to have to work for it. Success will certainly not come overnight, but with plenty of hard work and perseverance the potential not just to supplement your wage, but to actually make a living from the internet is there, you just need to know how to access it.
In this guide, we’re going to look in detail at five of the internet’s biggest sources of income, including:
- YouTube videos
- Regular blogging
- Creating your own website
- And even google itself
What other online opportunities are out there?
If you want to make a living online, you really need to focus on one of the five areas listed above. However, if you’re happy in your day-to-day job but would love to make a little extra money on the side, these are some of your best options…
- Watch videos, play games and actually get paid!
That sounds like one of those ‘get rich quick scams’ we warned you about, but online survey sites like Swagbucks actually pay you for completing surveys and other small tasks online. You will be paid in virtual cash, which you can then transfer into real money, PayPal credits or gift vouchers to spend in stores like Marks & Spencer and Amazon.
You’ll be asked to watch videos, answer surveys and conduct searches using the Swagbucks page rather than Google, with every task you complete paying a different amount. Granted, you’re not going to get rich on Swagbucks, but you could easily add an extra £30 to your earnings every month. That’s £360 a year, which certainly isn’t a bad start.
- Online survey sites
Online survey sites are an effective way to boost your pay cheque because they require absolutely no skill and can be quite fun. All you have to do is sign up and wait for a survey to land in your inbox. Topics can range from the type of washing liquid you use to whether the UK should stay in the EU.
Sign up for a few of the sites listed in this article and you could easily add an extra £500 to your annual income.
- Get paid to search online
How many times do you conduct a search online each day? By simply downloading an add-on called Qmee, which sits on your internet browser, you can monetise your searches online. Just use Google, Yahoo, Bing, eBay and even Tesco as you normally would, and Qmee will show extra results or adverts alongside the normal search results. If the ad interests you, simply give it a click and earn a cut of the money, typically ten pence a click.
You might only earn an extra £10-£20 per month, but when used in combination with some of the other strategies we’ve listed, it’ll soon add up.
- Complete simple market research tasks
Websites like Field Agent, Roamler, Yoobic and Streetspotr ask their members to go out into the big wide world to perform simple market research tasks. This could be anything from checking the prices of products in stores, taking photographs or menu cards in restaurants, or photographing product displays. You could earn anything from about £4-£15 for every ‘mission’ you accept, which isn’t bad for a few minutes’ work.
- Test company websites
Sign up for What Users Do and earn money testing company websites. Businesses are desperate to make their websites as simple for their customers to navigate and use as possible. By signing up to What Users Do, you effectively become the website tester. You will be paid to complete tasks on a website, such as finding a particular product or completing an action.
The company records your screen and voice as you perform the task, so you will need a microphone. However, your face is not recorded so you can be as dishevelled as you like. Once you’re an established member of the site, you will also be invited to test mobile sites, which can pay up to £15 per test for 10-15 minutes’ work. So, if you’re not sure how to make money on the internet, this is one of your best bets.
How to make money on YouTube
You’ve probably heard a number of stories about ‘vloggers’ making an incredibly good living by posting regular YouTube videos online and benefiting from the advertising revenue they attract. In fact, in some cases, people have made considerable sums with just one video that goes ‘viral’. The ‘Charlie bit my finger – again’, video has been viewed more than 827million times, and has earned the happy family more than £100,000 in advertising revenue – all from a simple 55 second clip.
The formula for how to make money on YouTube is a simple one. Post a video that gets enough views, and companies will pay to advertise their wares on your page. The advertising revenue is then split 55-45 in your favour.
How much money can you potentially make?
The sky’s the limit on YouTube, but while earning a life-changing sum of money probably isn’t a particularly realistic aim for everyone, you can start earning money quite quickly if you build a strong subscriber base.
Rather than striking it lucky with a one-off video that goes viral, you’re much more likely to be successful by posting regular vlogs (video blogs) that provide real value to your subscribers. However, even when you have built a strong subscriber base, the money you earn can still fluctuate quite considerably, from thousands of pounds one month, to a hundred or so the next.
As a benchmark, you can expect to earn a couple of pounds for every 1,000 views your video receives. However, this amount can increase depending on the number of subscribers, likes, comments, and favourites you get, so it all counts!
The beauty of YouTube is just how easy it is to get started. It doesn’t have to cost you a penny to post your own video content, as most of the equipment you’ll need you will already have on your smartphone. The very basics are:
A decent camera – The higher the quality, the better. You’ll also need to record your videos in full 1080p HD.
Sound recording equipment – Most smartphones and cameras come with a built-in microphone, which is fine when you’re just starting out; however, as you progress, you might want to invest in a decent standalone microphone.
Video editing software – If you’re posting regular vlogs, it’s essential you can edit your footage. Decent video editing software, like Microsoft Windows Movie Maker, is available for free.
The good news is that if you’re going to try and make money on YouTube, there’s a huge potential market out there. In fact, there are more than one billion unique users every month, so, if your videos are good enough and you follow these quick tips, you really could make some serious money.
Building your YouTube channel
It doesn’t matter whether you are setting up a YouTube channel as a method of promoting your business’s products or services, or simply as a way of posting videos of your cat – the fundamentals are the same.
When creating your account, you should make sure you use keywords to help searchers find your content. You can do this by navigating to the advanced section of your channel settings. Of course, it’s essential the keywords are relevant to your content, so ‘cute cat videos’ or ‘DIY tips’ would be suitable depending on your content.
It’s also important to choose a username that’s short, simple and original. The more memorable it is, the easier it’ll be for people to find you. Here’s a great guide from Google to help you create and build your channel.
The most successful videos on YouTube are generally short and of a high quality. You should also try to upload new content regularly and consistently, so subscribers to your channel know when new videos will be posted.
At first, it’s unlikely the quality of your videos will be all that impressive, but practice makes perfect, so stick with it and keep uploading. Try to make each video better than the last and your content will soon be up to scratch.
Improvements can be made by using a better quality camera, filming from different angles, investing in better editing software, using a tripod, or simply by improving the lighting. You should also tag every video you upload with relevant keywords and an eye-catching description as this will help drive traffic from YouTube searches.
Increasing your audience
Your ability to build an audience is central to the monetisation of your YouTube channel. The more people who watch your YouTube videos, the more money you will make. The key to making money on YouTube is to create the biggest reach for potential advertisers. There is no secret to building your audience other than hard work and plenty of promotion.
Upload content regularly and at similar times every month. Share your videos with as many people as you can and tell them when new content has been posted on Facebook and Twitter. You should also be quick to respond to any comments that are left about your videos. You can even respond to viewer requests or questions with video content directed specifically at them. Responding in this way will help to create a community people want to be a part of.
Monetising your content
To monetise your videos and actually start to earn money from YouTube your content must meet the following criteria:
- It must be advertiser friendly – i.e. appropriate for all audiences
- You must have permission to use it commercially
- You must be able to provide documentation proving you own the commercial rights to any audio and video content
- It must comply with YouTube’s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines
To enable monetisation on your YouTube channel, simply:
- Go to the ‘monetisation tab’ in your account’s settings
- Click ‘enable my account’
- Follow the on-screen steps to accept the YouTube monetisation agreement
Once you have successfully monetised your account, you can then choose which videos you want to monetise.
There’s no point monetising your content if you have no way of receiving the payment. To do this, you’ll need to setup Google Adsense, which allows you to earn money and even customise the look and feel of ads to match your YouTube channel.
If you’re under the age of 18, you will need an adult to help you create your account. You’ll also need either a PayPal or bank account and a valid email address so AdSense can verify who you are and send the money to the right place.
Understanding your audience
Your YouTube channel menu will contain an Analytics option you can click to get a better understanding of your audience. This lets you take a closer look at the demographic of your viewers and see which of your videos receive the most views and generate the highest earnings. This can help to fine tune your YouTube content in the future.
Marketing your videos
The best YouTube channels don’t simply publish content and wait for the viewers to come to them. To maximise your views and subscribers it is essential you use all the platforms at your disposable. Twitter, Facebook, your blog, and even your business website should be used to tell as many people as possible that you’ve posted a new video on YouTube.
Become a YouTube Partner
If you weren’t sure how to make money on YouTube before, now you’re very nearly there. The final step is to become a YouTube Partner. YouTube Partner status is reserved for those with YouTube channels with monetised videos that receive a large number of views. Reaching the promised land of YouTube Partner unlocks a range of powerful new features, from improved content creation tools to access to additional support and tips. In order to gain access to the most powerful YouTube Partner programs you’ll need to have 15,000 cumulative hours of viewing time in the last 90 days.
How to make money from blogging
If you’ve ever wondered how to make money from blogging, you’ve come to the right place. To the uninitiated, the link between writing content online and actually making money will seem opaque. The reality is that every blogger will have a unique combination of income streams. No two bloggers are the same in that regard. What is the same for all bloggers is just how much time and effort they need to put into the blog before they can even think about generating an income.
Choosing the right topic
In some cases, no matter how much work you put in, you simply will not be able to monetise your blog. The difference between an excellent ‘hobby’ blog and a blog that can generate an income is the topic. If you have an existing blog with a small audience you have worked really hard to build, you might have to change tack and start writing about a topic with more widespread appeal.
The recipe for success is to find a topic which is not currently covered by many bloggers, but still attracts a lot of searches. A topic you have a passion for and plenty of knowledge about is a must as that will help you produce the quality content you need to keep your readership interested.
Once you’ve settled on a topic, the next step is to create your blog. To do this you’ll need to:
- Purchase hosting
- Choose your domain (preferably something catchy)
- Install WordPress
- Design your blog
Here’s a great guide to getting started that’ll walk you through each of those four steps in detail.
Writing your blog
Understanding how to make money from blogging is only about 10 percent of the battle; the vast majority of any success you experience will be purely down to hard work. It can take months and even years to get your blog to the stage where it’s producing even a small amount of revenue, but if you stick with it and produce regular, original, top quality content on a topic people are interested in, you will get there eventually.
The temptation for some bloggers is to rehash articles that are already out there. That’s the easy option, but it’s not the route to success. Quality blogs rely on original and engaging content. Yes, of course you can conduct research and see what else is out there, but the reason readers will come to your blog is because they like your writing style, or your unique way of looking at the world. They will not make the effort to bookmark your blog if you’re simply rehashing other people’s work.
The truth is that there are no shortcuts. If your blog posts don’t contain some original insight, or don’t provide some value to the reader, they simply aren’t going to be read. In order to make money, you have to have visitors – but you will only have visitors if your content is worth reading.
Creating great content is not enough to make money from blogging. To attract the kind of visitor numbers you’re going to need, it’s essential you get yourself out there and start building some genuine relationships with your followers and other influencers in your niche. Get to know them, interact with them, and find people who could benefit from the information you can provide.
Building relationships in this way is important for three reasons:
- Authentic relationships with respected influencers in your niche will help you establish a reputation as a trusted source of information and allow you to become an authority in your field.
- The more people that know you exist, the more hits your blog will receive. If a blog post you have written is published on a fellow blogger’s site, you will benefit from having your content in front of all those potential new readers.
- Building mutually beneficial and lasting relationships can turn online acquaintances into friends who support you in the future and make it easier to achieve your blogging goals.
Monetising your blog
Okay, so now you have built lasting some relationships and established your blog as a trustworthy resource, it’s time to think about how to make money from blogging.
There is no right or wrong way to make money from blogging. Successful bloggers are always on the lookout for new income streams as another dries out. The key is to have multiple sources of income working behind the scenes at any one time.
These are five of the most common income streams for bloggers:
- Affiliate marketing
- Digital products
- Physical products
Display ads are those images you often see in the headers, footers and on the sidebars of popular websites. Advertisers will only be interested in paying for advertising space on your blog if you have plenty of traffic, so this is perhaps not the best income stream for new bloggers who are still growing their readership. Ads on your website should complement your content so they are relevant to readers. However, overdo the advertising and you risk being penalised by Google, so make sure display ads are used sparingly on your site.
There are other types of advertising you can have on your blog, such as private ads, where an agreement is reached between you and the advertiser directly, effectively cutting out the middleman. You can also create sponsored posts, where you write a blog about a company’s product or a service for a fee. However, make sure you always declare your relationship with the company to your readers.
- Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is simply the act of promoting someone else’s product or service on your website. You then earn a commission every time one of your readers makes a purchase after clicking through from your blog.
The best way to become an affiliate marketer is to think of the products and services you love which are relevant to your blog, and see whether they offer an affiliate program. Often a company will include a link for an ‘affiliate program’ or ‘referral program’ somewhere on their website. Then, simply follow the link to sign up.
It’s also well worth taking a look at the affiliate products other bloggers in your niche are offering. If it’s working for them, it could work for you too. However, to retain your authenticity and the trust of the readership, it’s essential the products and services you advertise are relevant to your content and are of genuine interest to the reader.
- Digital products
If you’re a specialist in your field, and by this point you should be, then starting small with resources that teach people new skills could turn into a potentially lucrative revenue stream. Online courses, paid-for webinars and online workshops can all do good business online.
Some successful bloggers also go down the eBook route, with many choosing to self-publish their content to maximise their income. Although eBooks do not generally make that much anymore, they can prove to be an excellent source of income for those specialising in particularly compelling topics.
Another potential strategy is to ring fence certain sections of your blog exclusively for members who are willing to pay for access. As there is such a huge amount of free information all over the internet, you will have to produce something truly unique which provides real value to your readership to justify the expense. However, if you have an area of expertise that is in-demand, this could prove to be an excellent method of making money from blogging.
- Physical products
Many bloggers also turn to physical products to monetise all their hard work. If you’ve built up a really loyal following then self-published and traditionally published books can work, particularly for lifestyle and cookery bloggers.
If your blog is all about a specific skill or area of knowledge, then conferences, classes and workshops can prove be a lucrative sideline. However, this is a considerable undertaking, with a huge amount of hard work required to organise and prepare the material for this type of event.
Handmade and manufactured products are also potential income streams for successful bloggers. For example, selling handmade jewellery products would be a natural sideline for a blog all about making your own jewellery. You can set up your own online store on sites such as Etsy or Handmade at Amazon and benefit from the potential reach of these established retailers.
There’s every chance you could offer the skill or knowledge you blog about as a paid-for service. Anyone with a successful blog is likely to be a competent writer and designer, so perhaps these are services you could perform for other websites or blogs?
You could also offer to manage the social media campaigns of local businesses using the skills you have developed growing your own social media following. There are numerous transferrable skills involved in making a success of your blog, and these are the skills online businesses will be happy to pay for.
How to make money from social media
Around half of all UK adults use social media every single day, and one in seven people across the world are regular social media users. That means all you need is an internet connection and a laptop or smartphone to reach a potential audience of more than one billion people. However, it also means there’s a heck of a lot of competition out there for the attention you crave.
There are all kinds of social media platforms out there, from personal and professional networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, micro-blogging sites like Twitter, and photo sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest. Each platform is best suited to a particular type of engagement. The powerful visuals of Pinterest are perfect for retailers and lifestyle brands, while Twitter is best suited to those who have something to say.
If you’re thinking seriously about how to make money online, social media certainly doesn’t come with any guarantees. However, if you’re willing to persevere, there are some potential revenue streams open to you.
- Write sponsored tweets
If you’re already a big deal on Twitter then the hard work has already been done. Now it’s time to make social media pay by sending out sponsored tweets to your loyal band of followers. Believe it or not, companies will actually pay you to tweet about their brands, and as long as you stick to their messaging guidelines, it’s easy money. Unfortunately, you will need to have a substantial following, which will rule out this option for the majority of people.
- Sell stock photos
If you’re a budding amateur photographer, a picture sharing site like Flickr is a great way to share your handiwork and get your pictures online. By licensing your photographs under a Creative Commons license, you allow other websites and blogs to use your photography for free. This is an effective way of building a following and honing your skills. You can then make the step up to stock photography sites like Shuttershock and iStockphoto, where people pay to use your pictures.
- Advertise your wares
Pinterest is the perfect social media platform for online retailers and hobbyists looking to turn a passion into an income stream. Pinterest is a virtual pin board that allows users to ‘pin’ items of interest they may choose to buy later. All you need are some high quality product pictures and you can capitalise on prime online advertising space that’s regularly viewed by over 200,000 people in the UK alone.
- Become a social media manager
That might sound like a distant dream, but if you’re proficient at a range of social media platforms, you can set yourself up as a freelance social media manager on popular freelancer sites like PeoplePerHour. Start by creating a profile and bidding on some simple projects you can use to build your confidence. Then, start to increase your rate as you become more proficient. Before you know it, you’ll have your own social media business!
- Run an online Instagram shop
Instagram has a lot of traction with young and predominantly female users. In fact, over 90 percent of the 150 million Instagram users worldwide are under the age of 35, which means it can be an extremely lucrative source of income for anyone looking to make money online. Typically clothing, fitness, entertainment and media brands are some of the best performing brands on Instagram. So, if you sell products that are aimed at that sector, or are exploring wholesale opportunities in those markets, an Instagram shop could be exactly what you need.
Here’s an excellent step-by-step guide to setting up your own Instagram store.
How to make money from a website
Not sure how to make money from a website? If you have a website that’s bringing in plenty of traffic then you’re sitting on a potential digital gold mine. However, before you start monetising this traffic, it’s important to consider just how you got to this position in the first place.
The majority of websites receive the bulk of their traffic from organic search queries i.e. queries entered into search engines like Google and Bing. There are methods of monetising your website that the search engines might not like, and that could result in a penalty that plunges your website to the bottom of the rankings. The result: no traffic – just a quick word of warning before you turn your website into a cash spinning machine.
- Selling products and services
A huge number of websites exist to sell products and services to their customers. The secret to success is to put your website where your potential customers’ eyes will be, namely, at the top of the search engine rankings via organic or paid-for search engine marketing. These topics warrant a guide of their own, so we’ll only touch on this topic for now.
- Email marketing
Email marketing lists, basically a database of the names and email addresses of people who have visited your website, is one of the most powerful money making assets on the web. Email marketing is extremely cheap – after all, how much does it cost to send an email? Done well, email marketing can deliver an excellent return on investment as it allows you to drive potential customers to your website in a very efficient way.
Simply encouraging visitors to sign up to a newsletter or notifications that new content has been posted is often the most effective way to build an email marketing list. However, you will need to attract plenty of visitors in the first place for this approach to work.
- Selling advertising space
This is one method of making money from a website you should approach with care. As always, the key is to use adverts in moderation. The general rule is that websites with too many adverts ‘above the fold’ (in the top half of the page) will get penalised, so use them sparingly.
You have two choices when advertising on your website: either find the advertisers yourself and work with them directly, or use a middleman like Google Adsense, which finds appropriate advertisers for you but takes a cut of the proceeds.
You are paid according to the number of impressions (page views) the ads displayed on your site receive. The kind of money you can earn from paid advertising varies quite considerably, but as a guide, you can typically expect anywhere from 10p to £5 for 1,000 impressions (the number of times the advert is viewed). If your website receives 100,000 impressions a month and runs a couple of adverts on each page, you could generate quite a considerable income.
- Premium content
Some websites and blogs reserve part of their website for premium content users who pay for access. Such sites often have a very popular free blog, then capitalise on their standing in the industry to offer exclusive paid-for content that includes comprehensive guides, tools and sought-after material.
- Write sponsored reviews
There are a number of sites out there, such as PayPerPost and Sponsored Reviews, which give websites with high visitor numbers the chance to review products for money. This is not a decision that sits well with some bloggers because it can damage the editorial credibility of their website; however, those websites that do follow this route can make good money.
- Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the most common methods webmasters turn to when considering how to make money online. The process itself is extremely simple. Online merchants with products and services to sell allow you to advertise their products on your website. You then receive a commission for every visitor who clicks through to the merchant’s site from your ad and makes a purchase. Affiliates can send potential customers to merchants’ websites using a variety of tools, from banner ads to text links and product reviews.
There are plenty of marketplaces and networks out there to help you find suitable affiliate opportunities for website. ClickBank, LinkShare and Google AdSense are all well worth five minutes of your time.
- Sell your website
Not sure how to make money from a website? You could always sell it. If you have worked hard at building your following for a number of years and have nothing left to give, or you simply fancy a new online project, selling your website could be the answer.
Every website is an asset, and as such, it has a value. Typically, websites sell for 12 to 24 months revenue, so if you’ve built a website that brings in £2,000 a month in advertising and affiliate marketing income, you have an asset worth somewhere in the region of £50,000. If your blog is an authority in your industry, or has something particularly unique about it, it could sell for much more.
A website like Filippa is a great starting point, as this allows potential buyers to not only bid on your website, but also to ask plenty of questions.
How to make money from Google
Google AdSense is an advertising placement service designed for website publishers who want to monetise their blogs and websites by displaying targeted text, video and image advertisements on their sites. The website owners receive an income, which is split 68 percent to 32 percent in the publisher’s favour, every time an advert is clicked.
How much can you earn?
The commission you receive depends on how much the advertisers are willing to pay Google for a click. The rule is that the more competitive a search term, the more the advertiser will be willing to pay.
Therefore, you can earn anything from about 2p per click all the way up to £10, although generally speaking, anything over and above £1 a click is quite rare. Although you are unlikely to make a fortune from Google AdSense, it is essentially money for nothing. You can login to your AdSense account whenever you like to see exactly how much revenue you have received for that day, week, month etc.
Will Google AdSense work for you?
Google AdSense will only be an effective way to make money online if you have the following:
- A high quality website – Google AdSense only works with websites that provide high quality content. In Google’s eyes, a quality website is one which is accessible from different devices, optimised for the search engines, usable, easy to navigate, has quick page load times, and is full of original and unbiased content.
- Lots of traffic – AdSense is only an effective way to make money from a website if you receive a minimum of 200-300 unique visitors a day. Anything less than that and AdSense will not be worth your while.
- The right keywords – If your website targets keywords that are commonly used by advertisers to promote their products, and ‘action keywords’ that are likely to result in a conversion (i.e. ‘buy Nike trainers’), then AdSense could be a good fit for you.
Can you make a good living online from Google AdSense alone?
Even if your website ticks all the right boxes, the answer is probably no. The key to making money online is to diversify your income streams. Some months AdSense may bring in enough money for you to live on, but what happens when you have a bad month? That’s why you need other sources of revenue working away in the background to reduce the risks. However, AdSense is a simple and reliable method of making money online. Here’s how you sign up.
And that’s it!
As you can see, there are a huge range of different options out there for those who want to make money online. There are no quick fixes, that’s been made clear throughout the guide, but 2015 presents an incredible range of opportunities for entrepreneurs, bloggers and website owners to earn good money from the comfort of their own home. All you need is the knowledge to produce content that browsers will take the time to visit, and the drive to create an engaging online asset.
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