7 Ways I Make Money Online

Making money online is a hot topic, and it is one I get asked about frequently in a variety of forms.

  • How do you make money online?
  • How can I make money through blogging?
  • How long does it take to become a professional blogger?

So today, I will answer the first question which should give you some ideas for the second. The answer to the third I will tell you when I actually become one. :)

7 Ways I Am Making Money Online

Without any further ado, here are some of my top earners since I started blogging in 2008 through today.

Adsense

Google Adsense is like the starter pack for anyone looking to make money online. I earn a steady flow of income from Adsense using a variety of other websites I own. My top earners include my Dofollow Blog Directory, a simple site about Malshis, and some various HubPages articles I have written over the past year.

Why don’t I use Adsense on Kikolani? I did, up until last year’s Blog World where Scott Stratten made a very valid point that if you are putting Adsense on your blog, you are essentially giving people a reason to leave for just a few cents per click. Considering I want people to stick around my site, I decided it was a good time to pull those ad blocks.

Has removing Adsense made a difference for Kikolani? I really couldn’t say. I took a quick peak in Analytics and noticed that the average time on site between January 1 – March 26, 2010 when I had Adsense was the same as January 1 – March 26, 2011, but the bounce rate is a good bit lower now than it was then.

Advertising

Advertising is another good source of on-site income. I do the standard 125×125 blocks in the sidebar, a larger banner ad underneath posts, and inclusion of a banner spot in my newsletter as detailed in my advertising page. Some of the real income comes from offering customized advertising options based on the requester’s needs and offering discounts for long term subscriptions.

Affiliate Marketing

Ah, good old affiliate marketing. So long as you’re only promoting products you’ve used and truly believe in, there is nothing wrong with it. That’s also the key to success really, as people can generally tell from your reviews if you sincerely like the product or you’re just trying to make a buck off of copying a swipe file.

Which products have done the best for me so far? Here are my top five products (the links are affiliate links).

  • Income Blogging Guide – This is a six month course that will help you learn how to make money blogging, from building a WordPress blog from scratch to creating your own product and outsourcing when necessary. I did a full review of this course here.
  • Blog World Expo – Events targeted toward your readers are generally going to perform well. I promoted Blog World pretty hard in the fall, especially since I was going. I’ll be doing the same this fall for the west coast edition in November!
  • Thesis – If you use a premium WordPress theme for your blog, you should promote it! If people like the design of your site and they are in the market to get a theme, then your own site makes for a great conversion.
  • Problogger eBooks – When it comes to eBooks and my audience, nothing is a better fit than Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and Copywriting Scorecard for Bloggers. I participated in the 31 days to building a better blog program in 2008 and it transformed my blog into what it is today. I later bought the scorecard the day it came out and subsequently wrote a review for it. Both are highly valuable to bloggers and thus make for a great source of revenue.

I promote these, and other products I like, through review posts, casual mentions in new blog posts when it is applicable, and my blogging resources page.

Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is a great fit for bloggers who actually enjoy writing. My blog and guest posts serve as a great writing portfolio / resume that speaks for itself, and has naturally led to some great paid writing opportunities. The key (especially when it comes to guest posts) is to take opportunities where you will get great exposure, whether or not they are paid. Some of my best paid opportunities have come from sites to which I freely contribute.

If you’re looking to earn income as a freelance writer, it’s important that you label yourself as such on your blog and social profiles as well as showcase your best content. I have highlighted mine on my own personal domain in a lifestream format and within my archives.

Guest Blogging Contests

Guest blogging contests are a great way for bloggers to earn a little (or sometimes a lot) of extra income. I have entered four so far and digitally walked away with three first place prizes and one second place prize which altogether amounted to a little over $2,000USD.

Is there a secret to winning? Not particularly. It’s essentially the right combination of creating the right content for the audience of the site you’re blogging upon, following all of the rules, and promoting the hell out of your post non-stop until the last day of the contest. The latter of which lead me to my next income generating strategy.

My Own Product

After winning the first guest blogging contest, I got a great idea of what I wanted to do for my first product. Thus the Ultimate Guide to Blog Post Promotion was born. Having created something on my own felt really good, and getting to do my first big affiliate payout in the coming week will further drive home the point (to myself) that creating your own product is ultimately the most profitable thing you can do. Especially with information products like eBooks because once you’ve published it, then all the work on your end (minus promoting it) is done.

Other Services

Last but not least, there are other services that you can offer as opposed to or in conjunction with freelance writing. In my case, since I have experience in WordPress customizations, I occasionally will do some small edits to people’s templates for an hourly rate. A recent popular request has been to install social sharing buttons into Thesis and other themes.

Another promising new service opportunity I have been getting requests for is promotion of content, thanks to my eBook. It’s hit or miss on this one for what I can accept because I can only promote certain topics successfully based on what my fans and following are interested in. What you need to ask yourself when it comes to possible services you can offer is what are you good at that others could benefit from.

How Do You Make Money Online?

So there you have it, a short and simple look at ways I make money online. Now it’s your turn – how do you do it? What do you find to be most successful (or least)? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Comments

    • says

      Thanks Chad! I’m southern born and used to go catfishing myself…. ah the memories that surfaced seeing your website link! :)

      • says

        I monetize my websites via AdSense and some affiliate marketing. I haven’t been able to sell some advertising space on my websites just yet though, but I hope I’ll get that done before the end of this year.

        As for AdSense, it’s not a long-term income stream as Google could ban your account at any time, without even having to tell you what it is that you’ve done wrong.

        And oh, Kristi! As for the theme you just started using that’s mobile compatible: why? There are plugins making whatever them it is that you’re using compatible with mobile devices — my recommendation is that you try that out instead :)

        /Nabil, from Sweden.
        Nabil just posted Symptom när man drabbats av förstoppning

  1. says

    Hi Kristi, this post is packed with some wonderful ideas. I’m glad that you mentioned WordPress customizations because I didn’t realize you took on that type of work. Having those kinds of skills are invaluable!
    I was fortunate to win some money in a contest recently also, and as a result I was able to get my hands on Thesis theme for the first time. The winnings also allowed me to give back by being a sponsor of the traffic generation contest going on right now by CommentLuv, FamousBloggers, iBlogZone and MyBlogGuest. These guys really know how to put on a contest that puts money in everyones pockets!
    Ileane just posted This Blog Runs On Thesis Awesome

    • says

      Hi Ileane. WordPress customizations aren’t my favorite thing to do because I’m highly nervous (especially when it comes to Thesis) about possibly breaking something. Because with different themes, you never know what coding is affecting another area, design or functionality wise. I have done full on customizations before though, so I can usually fix any issue.

      I did the same thing – after the last contest I won, I saved some of the money to go the sponsorship route for the CommentLuv / FamousBloggers contest as well. Much easier to be a sponsor than a participant. :)

    • says

      It’s a start Bjorn. I probably should have prefaced this post with the fact that I didn’t start earning much income until after I had been blogging for a year and a half. But once you hit that point, it does start rolling in pretty consistently.

  2. says

    Thanks for the specific looks at your earnings. I have been managing sites for over a decade but haven’t been focused seriously on income until recently. Google adsense has done well. I do get people writing me to ask about sponsorship opportunities but they must want very cheap prices because I almost never hear back from them after I give them a quote. It does seem to be changing a bit recently as several look like they might sign on in the next week.

    I also am also been looking into more advertising sources. Finding good articles though is hard – there are lots of posts about alternatives but few spelling out what actual results people get (that I can find). Luckily I have lots of content that is pretty popular so I can just continue my effort there and just increase my focus on increasing income and hopefully find some more success. I may also pursue trying my hand with an ebook.
    John Hunter just posted Earning More Money

    • says

      Hi John. If you feel your pricing is sound based on your traffic and site’s authority, don’t let a few turn downed offers make you change. I find that there are some people with highly unrealistic expectations of advertising / sponsorship pricing, and you end up shooting yourself in the foot if you sell a spot for less than you wanted and miss out on an opportunity to get what you did want from someone else.

    • says

      Exactly Dana. Creating your own product is going to be the best income source as you get 100% of the profits (minus what you pay to your affiliates if you choose to have them). Plus, creating a valuable product can lead to having a loyal audience for your next one.

    • says

      True Dennis. I didn’t want to write a post on 7 ways everyone can make money because it depends on what your skillset and interests are as to what methods will work best for you. That’s why I went with the “here’s how I do it” approach so people could maybe get ideas, or at the very least understand that it’s not always one specific method of monetization that works – it’s about mixing and matching. :)

  3. says

    Personally I think that Adsense can he handy for simple “hands-free” monetization though to really get the best results from it you need to really do as much testing and tweaking as with other revenue models. Just throwing up some ads in five minutes *isn’t* going to get you the best results possible from your existing traffic.

    I have a few ebooks I have written that do OK but personally my preference is for affiliate marketing simply because I find it fun, the results can be excellent and, if you’re doing it at the same time as list building/subscriber building, it can be tremendously profitable while enabling you to help others. What could be better than offering genuine tips and advice to people based on your own experiences and then getting paid for them? :-)
    Richard just posted Growing Your Targeted Website Traffic Using Offline Niche Marketing

    • says

      Good points Richard. Adsense is pretty hands-free. I create each of my ad blocks with a custom channel / name, that way I can see what’s working and what’s not so I can rearrange or highlight everything in the right place.

      One thing nice about affiliate marketing is that it is more hands-free than doing your own product, simply because it is up to the product’s creator to deal with anything after the referral. At the same time, if you refer a bad product, someone might not be as trusting of your next suggestions. But so long as you’re always promoting great products, it’s nothing to worry about.

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing this post Kristi!

    I make money by ranking webpages (mainly in Google) which then get bumped off the top so they are not making money any longer.

    However, there is a point – due to this, my mind is forced to turn to other methods (and another route to fulfillment in life, really). And this IS the point – safe way to play the internet marketing game is to avoid having too many proverbial eggs in the proverbial one basket. That’s obviously what you do Kristi, and hence my reason for commenting today.

    Thanks again!

    Regards
    Joseph
    Joseph Archibald just posted Playing the Google Search Game – Guest Post on Pat Flynn’s Blog is Live

    • says

      Thanks Joseph! Yes, I have watched people who put all of their eggs into the Adsense basket, only to have their site drop in rankings (or get banned altogether) and then lose their only source of income. Hence why I like having multiple options, that way if one drops off, I can just put the energy from that one into another one. You just never know what new trend or new Google algorithm is going to show up and rain on your money making parade!

  5. says

    I see here one more opportunity for you that you did not list above: You can also earn money by occassionally tweeting ads to your twitter followers or facebook friends/fans that are relevant and address possible problems your followers may have

      • says

        I am 100% sure that he was talking about tweeting affiliate products, and addressing the problems his followers may have.

        I’m thinking of trying that out soon. Instead of building a list, which everyone seems to be doing nowadays, I’m going to try twitter out and get, say, 300 followers. All relevant to whatever it is that I’m promoting.

        Then — all I do is to send out tweets about products occasionally. And I’m sure they’d be willing to buy them as they’ve already chosen to follow me. What do you think about that, Kristi? Would it work?

        I think of it as a new way of list building ;)

        /Nabil, a reader from Sweden.
        Nabil just posted Kvinnligt håravfall- information…

  6. says

    I love it when bloggers break it down into really practical tips and “this is what works for me” specifics. My income streams are basically the same as yours and I think you make a great point about promoting things you already use (like Thesis in your case). One easy way to highlight them is to have a “Things I Like” page (or your Resources page) on which you simply list the products or services you’re using anyway. I find that readers are genuinely interested in the stuff I actually use and for most bloggers, linking to that page in the navbar is a no-brainer in my book. :)
    Amy Lynn Andrews just posted How to Edit Your Facebook Thumbnail Image

    • says

      Thanks for commenting Amy! I know that when I was starting out, I would always be on someone’s site thinking “I wonder how they got this piece of functionality.” Then I’d either look around their site for some kind of resources page or contact the blogger. So it made sense to me to create the resources section, including everything I use for my site, from education to plugins.

  7. says

    I have an Adsense check on the way to me right now, and I’m thrilled :) but that is a great point about it not wanting to give readers a reason to leave your main blog for a few cents. This past weekend I started a small Zazzle store to do with one of my niches, but I think you’re right – the real money would come from creating our own product, something that’s unique and of great quality. Good luck on even more sales of your ebook – I’m about to grab one right now!
    Christie just posted A story of three little niches

    • says

      Congrats Christie! And thanks for getting my eBook – I hope you find it very useful in promoting your content, because you do have some great content on your sites! :)

      • says

        Thank you! That’s a huge compliment, considering the awesome quality you’re putting on sites all over the internet. I’m looking forward to digging into that ebook!

  8. says

    Great post! People in our niche tend not to share valuable information with others, but not you :)
    I’m using mostly affiliate sales to make money from my properties. AdSense is another great resource to start with but personally i find it either having very cheap click or i can’t afford to drive someone away from my page for some cents.
    Keep it up!
    Angel
    Angel just posted Having a website is not a Hobby!

  9. says

    The peak occurred in 2009 when the owners of SocialMediaToday.com where I had been syndicating my blog posts approached me and made me an offer to join their editorial team managing online communities at SustainableCitiesCollective.com and GoverningPeople.com. It was good money. About 7-8 months later when one of their investors bailed, I lost the job. I’ve been struggling since, with some things here and there, some short term gigs now and then, but nothing stable. I’m toying with an ebook myself, your own being a partial inspiration. :)

    Your advertising page is blank.
    Ari Herzog just posted How CommentLuv Promotes Your Blog

    • says

      I’d virtually line up to get an eBook by you Ari… your insights into using social media have been quite inspirational. :)

      Odd about the advertising page… it’s working for me. Might have been a temporary server overload.

  10. says

    I do some consulting, a little design, hosting, social media, adsense, and most recently I am working on some iPhone apps… BTW, adsense still comes through on your RSS feed.

  11. says

    Hi Kristi,
    Great article! I started doing WordPress customizations several months ago, after taking an affiliate marketing course, and I’ve found it to be a great source of income as well as a way to see what my target market is looking for. However, since I haven’t been doing it long I know I’m probably not charging enough. What’s been great is to refer those people to products I use myself, such as hosting, email marketing, photos, themes,etc. I’m looking forward to developing products of my own soon. Thank you for always providing useful and interesting information.
    Rebecca Olkowski just posted To Blog or Not to Blog – That is the Question

    • says

      You’re welcome Rebecca. Usually, once you do a few projects and can build a portfolio to refer people to, you can start charging a little more. It just takes a little time!

  12. says

    Kristi,
    As far as I know you have covered the main streams that people use to make money online. Well you did not mention scamming, spamming, fraud or identity theft.

    I really appreciate you posting this. I have been wanting to create my own product in one of my niche markets and I really need to do that.

    Kudos,
    Selina

  13. says

    Thanks for the ideas! I have been working through a strategy to earn some income before people even get to my blogs. The blog isn’t really the destination as I want my visitors to join me either as a client or in a group eventually depending on what blog they are visiting. I decided to only write articles to the companies that share adsense revenue to bring some money in from the very beginning and am finding it pays quite a bit and grows over time. For work that I was already doing and not earning income from it was a good move for me.

    On the advertising, at what point do you think it could be offered on a blog? All of mine are fairly new and growing but they are still very small compared to your numbers on your advertising page. Any ideas?

    Thanks!
    Keith Dennis just posted MLM Blog Help For The Internet Un -Savvy

    • says

      Hi Keith,

      I started by using affiliate products in my advertising space, and then used the site BuySellAds.com to research what the lowest traffic / highest price point was for other sites to successfully fill adspace.

  14. says

    Kristi,

    I really like the fact that you have numerous diverse ways to make money. That’s the way to do it.

    I really suggest to people to create your own products. My blogging course (and thanks for mentioning it in the post) is one of my biggest earners.

    Plus client work. The amount of client work I do now including building blogs and one on one mentoring has almost tripled this year…and that is after I put my prices up. Really weird that one!

    Andrew
    Andrew just posted How Blogging Can Help You Sell

  15. says

    I found your site along with quite a few others originally at dofollow.info. I was searching for a way to get some exposure to my local business and so far it has paid off pretty well. I am glad it is making you a decent income as well. Most of my advertising comes through search engines since I need highly targeted traffic to a local niche. Great tips though for a bloggers trying to make an income out of it.

  16. says

    Hi Kristi

    Interesting topic on blogging, make money :-)
    My money sources are almost similar as yours LOL; also AdSense is my first great income.

    The others like selling Thesis (shareasale), clickbank network, CJs. Those are my main sources that make me currently about 1 k a month together.

    I stop giving any services at the moment because I am so busy with my other blogs as well LOL, can’t handle them alone, and outsourcing is a bit hard on my since I hardly can trust anyone but myself.

    Thanks.
    Kimi just posted CJ Review Commission Junction Affiliate Experience

  17. says

    Exactly two years ago, I started putting up sites to promote Ebay products through their EPN affiliate network. After a year of focusing only on that, and not really blogging all that much, you might have noticed the change, I ended up with over 100 sites that help me pull in an extra $1,000 per month.

    After the recent Google change, I’ve very close to breaking the $3,000 mark for the month. Imagine my excitement! Right now, for this month, I’m in love with Google. lol. We’ll see what next month is like.

    I haven’t wrote about this on my blog as I don’t want to jinx myself. That’s why I quit the “make money” posts. I also felt that my success was starting to sound like I was showing off, so I just quit writing about it.

    So, EPN, AdSense, Chitika, Neverblue, Clickbank, Commission Junction, Pepperjam, and an assortment of items for sale that I own bring me joy and happiness each month.

    Maybe someday I can quit my day job. I just need to double what I’m doing, then it’s Caribbean time!
    Wayne John just posted 3 ways to maintain password security while working with a web developer

  18. says

    I make the biggest chunk of money from Adsense from mainly one site, which is nice. On another site, I’ve just started making nice money through advertising revenue, although I have to admit a small part of it has been confusing me. But it is what it is. I’m still working on learning affiliate sales better, as it’s sporadic.
    Mitch Mitchell just posted Even Top Bloggers Think It’s Mainly About Content

  19. says

    Hi Kristi

    This is my first time on your blog and i am happy that i read really interesting article.
    You had mention nice activities for earning money from online work. I like the concept of advertising banner’s in newsletters & Thesis

    Thanks for sharing wonderful information
    John

  20. says

    This are some good ways to make money. Some of the ways presented here I have tried myself and they binged some nice amounts of money. I am glad that you have decided to share with us your income sources. Thanks for sharing.
    Bit Doze just posted Build My Rank Review

  21. says

    As I see it these are great opportunities to make extra income. As a freelancer you can’t be sure of your income, so I wouldn’t give up my 8h job yet. I think that the stress is higher once you are your “own master”, but I do admire the ones who have succeed.

  22. says

    My biggest chunk of money was from doing paid posts. For a time there I was doing a few hundred dollars a week. I did mainly to show that it could be done but now I only take on tasks when approached directly and if it pays well.

    Other than that I have a few affiliates, the best being the theme I promote and other income earning sources such as adsense. I’m not pulling the adsense ads from my blog because rather than interfering with my earnings it’s adding to them.
    Sire just posted Blogging! Why The Hell Do We Do It

  23. says

    Kristi firs of all congratulations for your great blog you have and second of all for the small examples you have just shown in here.

    I do personally don’t use Adsense on my personal blog because yes as you said, you lose potential visitors and future customers for pennies. I mean I don’t like to call them customers because I normally create a relationships with them and that’s how it should be done..

    Finally creating your own products is a great way to increase your revenue. I do personally like Video Products and Member Sites.

    I have never wrote my personal e-book, but I will definitely plan my first one soon.

    Cheers,

    Luis
    Luis Posselt just posted Tutorial Joomla

  24. says

    I really wanted to know more about affiliate marketing and apply it on my sites. Though I already embrace adsense but that is not enough more me since my adsense earning wend really really down. I don’t know where to start on that. my friend earn more that 200$ a month and that is good already. Hope that will goes with me too.. Hoping :)
    Kirsty just posted Shopping Cart Elite and the Auto Industry

  25. says

    That is amazing Kristi!
    The biggest lesson I think we all (especially beginners) should take away from your post is the fact that you are not relying on one method, you diversify! And that I think is what most successful online money makers will tell you.

    Its always good to have extra means of income when and if one method fails to deliver or somehow you just lose the income from it.
    Satrap just posted 4 Simple Tips on How to Make Money Blogging

  26. says

    Adsense is indeed good for beginners, because it’s so simple. But it doesn’t generate a lot of income. Another great option for beginners in my opinion is Viglink. It’s also simple to use and it’s a good start if you want to try some affiliate sales. I have much better results with Viglink then Adsense.
    DJ Trinity just posted New House Music 2012