Everybody wants information. This is why we search on Google, watch the news, read non-fiction, ask for help, etc. Consequentially, providing useful information online is the best and easiest way to make money on the internet. Everyone is looking for information, so if you can provide it you have the ability to profit. Think about how much time you spend online each day. How much of that time are you looking for answers or information? Probably a majority.
There are many different methods that you can use to give information to people and generate an income at the same time. Each method has a unique way of organizing the information and the user experience is different as a result. A lot of profitable websites sometimes provide their visitors with a combination of more than one of these methods. Think about which of the following method(s) would best suit you for your niche. (in no particular order):
A blog, short for “web-log”, is a great way to easily organize your information online because the blogging platform does all of the organizing for you. This website, for instance, is a blog. Whenever I want, I can log into my WordPress account, write in the “new post” area, click Publish and the website updates automatically.
It's quick and easy, and the best part is that you can set up a Blog for free. There are many different blogging platforms, but the most popular seem to be WordPress.com and Blogger.com, so check those out if you would like more detailed information about blogging.
- Easy to start, edit and manage your content
- Builds an online community with your readers
- Establishes you as an expert in your field
- Blog can be used to promote a product of yours (i.e. an Ebook)
- Can be free
- There may be many similar blogs in the same niche already (how will you be different?)
- It takes time (sometimes months or years) to establish yourself as an expert
- Requires upkeep and constant attention to update content and respond to comments
How Money Is Made:
- Advertising. (Google Adsense, Text-Link Ads, Private Advertising, etc.)
- Affiliate Links (Linking to a particular book and getting paid for leading a sale. Amazon.com for example)
- Donations. Yes, if you provide useful information and a donation button, some people may be kind enough to donate to your cause.
- 9 Little Known Traits of Successful Bloggers at Copyblogger.com
- How Bloggers Make Money from Blogs at Problogger.net
- How to Get Started with a Blog (and why all writers should) at WritingforyourWealth.com
An Ebook, or electronic book, is also a fantastic way to organize information and distribute it to people. Usually Ebooks come in an EXE or PDF format and can be easily viewed on most computers. Ebooks are becoming even more popular today, especially with Amazon.com's new Ebook reading device, “The Kindle,” out on the market.
- If you write and sell it yourself, there is no printing press to pay (it's electronic, no paper!), no publishers and no retailers to take a chunk of the profit. Practically 100% of each sale is all yours.
- There's little or no upkeep once it's finished.
- It can earn you money for a time.
- It's easy to set up an affiliate program to have other websites sell your book for you too.
- An Ebook can take a lot of time to write.
- It's difficult to sell an Ebook from scratch. In other words, if you don't have an established audience already (i.e. from a blog or membership website), finding people to purchase your book can be a challenge.
- Once the Ebook is published and is sold, the information inside cannot be updated if, for example, something you wrote has become outdated. This is why you'll see different editions or versions of books come out sometimes.
How Money Is Made:
- Visitors click on a “Buy Now” button on your website, which takes them to a form to fill out with their billing information. After processing, money is put into your account.
- Clickbank.com and E-Junkie.com are the top two methods of selling electronic files online. I prefer E-Junkie, because they will also deliver the product for you, and they don't take any money from your sales. Clickbank, however, has a better affiliate program, which is also important.
- If you start an affiliate program, you can find affiliates who will sell your Ebook for you off of their website. You pay your affiliates a small “finder's fee” for bringing in the sale.
- Through an ebook distributing website such as Amazon or Ebooks.com.
- How to Create Ebooks That Sell at Copyblogger.com
- 11 Tried and Tested Strategies To Market Your Ebook at BloggingBits.com
- How to Create and Publish Your Own Ebook with a $0 Budget at SkellieWag.org
A membership site is a website that can be accessed with a password. People usually pay a one time or monthly fee to become a member and gain access to the information inside. I think membership sites are a powerful way to generate an income online, and I'm hoping to get involved with this very soon.
- Immediately creates a sense of membership and community within the site.
- Continuously updating and providing information in this way can guarantee that people will stick around and keep feeding you money each month.
- As an owner and administrator of a membership site, you're immediately seen as “the expert”. This is powerful because it can help you bring more members in, and also have the ability to easily sell things to the members you already have. (Although, you should never become too greedy!)
- The payment system in a membership website, and is kind of a snowball effect. For instance, month one, you have 10 paying members. The next month, you gain 10 more paying members, for a total of 20 paying members.
- Creating a membership site definitely takes a lot of hard work, time, and effort. You want to make sure that you are able to give your members what they are paying for. If you don't, they'll feel betrayed and leave.
- Again, it can be difficult to bring in members if you don't have an established audience or reputation already. Some money may be needed to invest in marketing the membership website to be able to get it off the ground before it takes off.
- Although money is generated automatically, you can't just dissapear and leave the content static. It's reassuring to the members if new there is new stuff available every once and a while, which is good because it decreases the potential number of cancellations.
How Money Is Made:
- Members will be charged a one-time lifetime fee or a monthly fee for access to the information on the site.
- The Continuity Snowball at Continuityblueprint.com (warning: 30 minute video, but it's worth it)
In addition to the methods above, you can also sell tools and templates, newsletters, audio or visual products, and learning methods.
As you can see, you have a lot of options to choose from. You can also combine two or more of the metods to create an even bigger resource for people—it's really up to you and what you feel most comfortable with.
If you are in no rush to make money, I would recommend starting with a blog, building readership and trust, and then sell an ebook or start a membership program to take your informational marketing to the next level.