A lot of people want to have an online presence but are unsure as to which type of website would suit them best. It is very easy to be overwhelmed by all the information that is out there so this post is intended to simplify some of the choices for you.
I have written about some of the fundamental choices in another post on Website Inspiration. That post outlines 4 different types of websites and then discusses the various tools that you can use to create your website.
So how does this post differ?
It focuses on the different types of websites that can produce an income. It looks at 4 different ideas, from those that would come under the heading of easy ways to make money online (if there is such a thing), to those that constitute a lot of hard work but are probably more sustainable and more rewarding in the long run if you have the time, energy and drive to persist.
Be wary of offers that promote so-called fast ways to make money online.
4 Ways to Make Money Online Without Handling Transactions
Whilst some of the ideas described below don’t take very long to set up, they can take substantially longer to start generating some kind of income, not to mention a considerable amount of ongoing hard work and dedication. However, I think the thrill of setting up your own website, and monetizing it in some way, is hard to beat.
1. Print-on-Demand Companies
If you are wondering how to make money on the internet but are concerned about handling transactions and all that this entails, then a print-on-demand (POD) model could be just the answer.
The Print-on-demand model means that a single t-shirt or mug for example can be manufactured after a customer orders it; there is no need to print large quantities of a particular product up front and thus have a large inventory to carry.
If you enjoy drawing or painting or taking photographs this could be a great online outlet for you. You can make cool designs to sell on t-shirts and various gift items. If on the other hand you are a writer or someone who enjoys dabbling in the written word then you could turn your words into slogans and captions on t-shirts, mouse pads, hoodies and a myriad of other gift ideas.
For example, I have thoroughly enjoyed creating over 600 designs to sell on many, many different products. And I have enjoyed thinking up slogans and sayings as much as I have enjoyed doing the artwork.
Learning how to sell your art online via a POD company (affiliate link) can become a hobby in itself. Furthermore, it provides a good introduction to e-commerce in general, allowing you to learn how to make money on the internet whilst furthering an interest or hobby.
It is probably a relatively easy way to make money online once you get going with a number of designs, provided they are of good quality and can compete in the marketplace.
One huge advantage of using a POD company is that many of them already get a lot, I mean a LOT, of traffic. So your artwork or slogans can be uploaded onto products today and be selling next week if your designs are good enough to jump to the front of the recently-loaded search queue.
CafePress offers a print-on-demand (POD) platform and is how I first started online. I was originally planning to write an e-book (I wasn’t sure on what topic at that point) but became side-tracked when coming across CafePress during my search for ideas.
How Artists, Writers & Photographers Make Money on CafePress
- You can customize your own online shop hosted on the CafePress site.
- You get a commission for each item that is sold with your design on it.
- You have a huge choice of products for your artwork or slogans.
- You have access to a community of CafePressers who are selling art online.
- You can choose your preferred shop payment plan: monthly or annual.
It doesn’t take all that long to create your shop with CafePress although you will probably enjoy spending additional time tweaking the design of your shop according to your own style.
CafePress attracts a huge shopping audience. However, you would need a decent volume of sales to generate more than a modest income on the side, given the low commission rate.
One of the biggest downsides with CafePress now is the capping of commission rates on marketplace sales, first at 10% and now at 5%, in the absence of significant social shares. However, if you drive a sale from your own website then you can set the amount of commission that you prefer.
I still sell some of my designs on CafePress but no new designs. Once commissions dropped so low, I decided that it was time to diversify rather than place all of my online eggs in one internet basket. So at that time I decided to branch out and use other POD companies and explore other means of making money online.
Zazzle was the next POD company that I tried and I continue to sell some products through Zazzle and plan to do more in the future when time allows.
The same advantages apply for Zazzlers as for CafePress shop owners, with the addition of the following:
- You can set your own commission rate.
- Setting up a shop is free so you do not pay anything upfront.
- Zazzle offers a healthy referral program where you can earn 15% on items that you have referred a customer to, plus bonuses.
- They offer over 350 products that you can customize with your designs.
I really enjoy working with Zazzle and like how you can customize your shops as I have done below with Bright Style.
You can now find many companies that offer artists and photographers a vehicle for selling their creative works online. Redbubble is another good example of a POD company that you can explore.
You can see how I have used Redbubble here.
TeeSpring is another company that you can use to sell your artwork and slogans on t-shirts. This POD company is campaign-based but there are some great success stories out there, particularly from those who pushed past a couple of failed campaigns to enjoy some impressive hits. Here is one course that students have found very, very useful:
Is a POD company what you are looking for?
If you are a photographer and wish to sell your photos online, then I think any of these POD companies can provide a great outlet for you. You can choose a variety of mediums from promotional products to posters and framed prints just to mention a few.
Similarly, a POD company provides an ideal business model for artists wishing to gain a side income from their creativity.
So, regardless of whether you are an artist, a photographer, a writer or someone who just likes to dabble in sketching or in witticisms, there is a lot of scope for promoting your own designs online via one of these companies.
Upside to Selling Products Online with a Print on Demand Company
- All the messy handling of making and shipping physical products is done for you.
- The POD company processes payments and handles returns
- The POD company usually taps into a huge audience so you don’t have to worry as much about getting traffic to a site although you can work on this if you want to promote your designs from your own website or shop.
- You just have to create your design and upload it to the products that you think are suitable.
- You can spend as much time or as little time as you like on the look and feel of your shop.
- You don’t have to have your own website separate from POD company (although, if you do, you can use your own website to advertise your designs and drive customers to these products).
- Your customers get to customize products and to design their own t-shirts & gifts.
- You do not have to carry an inventory.
One huge plus that I haven’t mentioned so far is the fact that one design that you create can continue to generate income over and over again. I have 2 quite simple slogans that I created in 2005, for example, and they continue to bring in sales every week. From 10 minutes of brainstorming and then perhaps another 30 to 40 minutes creating the design and loading it on products, I have been able to continue reaping the benefits over and over again.
It is certainly one way that you can make money at home online. So it would suit anyone who is looking for a modest side income to supplement a day job, just as it would suit retirees, mothers interested in making money from home, people in part-time work and anyone with an entrepreneurial, as well as an artistic, bent.
One of the biggest advantages of setting up with a company like CafePress or Zazzle is the fact that they are already attracting huge traffic numbers to their sites.
Whether you are considering Zazzle or CafePress or a different POD company you will find that this is a nice way to get started while you learn the ropes of setting up your own website. This is just one of the many ways that you can make money from home.
2. An Advertising Model
With this model, you can sign up for a Google Account and apply to have Adsense ads appear on your website. You earn a small amount each time a visitor to your site clicks on one of the Adsense ads. When I say small, this could be as low as 0.15 or as high as $1 plus, but some niches do pay much more handsomely than this. After you have inserted code provided by Google Adsense and have been approved, you will start to see context-relevant ads being displayed on your website page.
However, for this to be successful:
- You need to have a decent volume of traffic coming to your website as the revenue can be slim for many niches.
- You need to be in a niche that attracts decent advertising figures.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliates earn commissions by advertising other people’s products. You don’t need to handle an inventory; you don’t need to create products, you simply need to promote and market existing products.
My initial education in the area of affiliate marketing was via Mark Ling’s AffiloBlueprint course, available via his Affilorama portal. I found the course extremely well written and very professionally presented with notes, videos and community support. I personally chose not to follow the article marketing concepts in the course at the time but found other sections very resource-intensive. I was always impressed to see that lessons were periodically updated and now Mark has updated the whole course, accommodating the impact of the Google Panda and Penguin algorithm changes.
You can read a brief review of Affilorama and AffiloBlueprint here.
Some of the companies that you can work with as an affiliate include the following:
Once you have your website up and running, you can apply to become an Associate. This means that you can sell any of Amazon’s products via your website and earn a small commission which can build relatively quickly if you work at getting traffic. Here is one course that can get you started: How To Make a Passive Income Amazon Affiliate Store
Advantages of being an Amazon associate include the following:
- Amazon has over a million products that you can advertise to your website visitors.
- The company provides simple tools to link from an advertising image on your site to the Amazon site.
- Amazon handles all of the sales transactions, you just have to advertise your selected products on your site.
- You can earn a commission on other products that your visitors might purchase after clicking through from your site.
- You can create a professional looking online store without any programming knowledge.
- You can set up an aStore “in minutes” and be up and operating quite quickly, but always be cautious about any “make money online fast” expectations.
- An aStore can be incorporated in your own website or it can be linked to from your own website.
You can read more about setting up an aStore here.
The revenue model offered by ClickBank.com is very similar to the Amazon model except the commission payouts can be significantly higher per item ranging often from 50% to 75% for e-books and courses. Again, a lot of the hard work is done for you; all you have to do is find a product that you think is good (one that you have hopefully tried yourself and approve of) and then market it on your website.
ClickBank is very easy to work with, offering digital products in a large range of niches. You can browse the ClickBank marketplace looking for informational products that suit your website niche. If you find a product that you like, you get a few lines of code that include your ClickBank id and then add it as a link from your advertising page. ClickBank then handles all the processing letting you know, via your accounts page, when you have made a sale.
You can also set up email alerts that let you know when a sale has been made from your site. These are quite exciting emails as the commission for the sale of one e-book can typically be something like $26 and upwards. In fact one alert has just now popped up in my inbox that has a commission payout of $33.
However, with ClickBank you do need to filter your search to find good quality products to promote.
You can browse the marketplace on clickbank.com to see if there are any products that suit your niche. If this is a model that appeals, there are numerous guides on how to make money with ClickBank.
Alternatively, you might like to sell e-books that you have written yourself via ClickBank. In that case, you would become a vendor and could attract other affiliates to promote your e-books for you. To find out more about becoming a vendor with ClickBank, just CLICK HERE
Commission Junction has a revenue model similar to ClickBank. Again, a lot of the hard work is done for you with this model; all you have to do is find a product that you think is good and then market it on your website.
Whereas ClickBank specializes in digital products with relatively high commissions, Commission Junction provides a vehicle to promote lots of different types of products, usually at a lower commission rate but with a reputation of good quality.
4. Create Your Own Products to Sell Online
This model would include creating software, writing e-books and creating courses to mention just a few.
However, in this post I want to cover the monetizing models that allow you to concentrate on your website and marketing without being hassled by having to handle transactions. So, we will leave the writing of e-books for another post. The one idea that I do want to mention, under the heading of creating your own products, is that of creating courses.
The idea of writing and marketing your own course is especially appealing if you have an instructional background of some kind and you can find a good platform to launch your work. One such site, that started in 2010 and has gone from strength to strength, is Udemy.
- Udemy provide free courses that give you guidelines on how to create your own course and market it.
- You retain the rights to all the material you create.
- You set the price for your course and keep 70% of each course sold (85% if you drive the sale from your own website).
- You can see on their websites how many courses have been sold for each offering along with the price being charged.
There is a very sexy article on ThinkTraffic.net, written by Caleb Wojcik, that describes the kind of success that some instructors have been enjoying with this platform. You can read it here.
Re-Capping Ways to Make Money Online Without Handling Transactions
Above are some real ways to make money online without having to handle transactions and all that this entails. You can sell art online, you can sell t-shirts online, you can sell your photos online or you can write and sell your course materials. Alternatively, you can promote products that have already been created.
As you can see, except for selling your own e-books from your own website, each of the models listed in this article are ways to make money on the internet without having to manage a shopping cart. This means that the network facilitating the connection between vendor, product and promoter, handles transactions as well as the customer service that goes with that side of e-commerce., allowing you to concentrate on the creation and promotion side of the operation.
What ways of making money online are you currently using or are you just starting out?
Please leave a comment and let us know if you have tried one of these models and how your online experience is going in general.
Books with Other Ideas on How to Legitimately Make Money Online
The following authors write about making money using the Internet. Some talk about how to make money from a blog, others give their own success story and how-to advice and many provide tips on how to make money online without investment. They all discuss legit ways to make money online.
Paperback: How to Make Money Online
- How to make money with eBay.
- How to make money with Yahoo.
- How to make money with Google.
Paperback: Blogging Your Way to The Front Row
- How to make money on a blog
- How the founder & CEO of Style Coalition is making money from a blog devoted to fashion.
Paperback: The Simple Truth About Making Money On the Internet
- A make money online business.
- One person’s account of how to really make money online.
- Takes the mystery out of making money online.