Over the years on this blog I’ve talked about how I’ve made money here and there. I’ve tried a lot of things, some successful but most of them not. Because of this, I want to address the topic of making money online because it’s a major industry, lots of people talk about it, but you need to understand how insecure it can be.

Dfardin via Compfight

Let’s get the first question out of the way; can you make money online? Yes you can. Let’s address part two of the question; can you make enough money online to live on? That one isn’t so easily answered.

There are basically 3 ways people can make money online, which I detailed a bit more on this post some time ago. Those 3 ways are: selling stuff, selling services or accepting advertising. There are nuances for each of these, but those are the specifics.

The majority of people who decide to try to make money online will do so; just not very much. For instance, I’ve made upwards of $700 a month online, but over the last couple of years I’ve barely made $10 a month. I made pretty good money via Adsense on one of my blogs, advertising on another. On this blog many years ago I signed up for something called Text Link Ads, which Google disapproved of. Before they caught me & clamped down on me I was averaging nearly $300 a month. Let me tell you this up front; if you want to consistently make money, don’t anger the search engine gods. 🙂

I’ve made a little bit of money where it’s concerned obtaining contracts for consulting or speaking services, even once for a webinar on a health care topic. That kind of money is rare for most people, but there are a number of people who’ve mastered that; I’m still working on it.

Let’s go back to that Adsense money for a quick moment. It took me 18 months to hit $100 the first time around. Then when I created the website that was bringing in better money, I was averaging between $500 and $700 a month from it. Not livable income here in the states, but not a bad part time job at the time. However, once Google put out Penguin and Panda, my income dropped precipitously. I know people who’ve been running Adsense for years and haven’t hit $100. Diversify how you try to make money online; don’t rely on Adsense for very long.

Let’s look at making a livable income from a high level. No matter who you are, if you’re living in the United States you probably need to be generating at least $2,000 a month at the lowest sustainable level of living. It’s hard getting exact figures because most people not making money don’t want to say and the ones making it are going to tell you if they did it so can you. For a good comparison let’s look at athletics.

In the United States, there are around 3,000 athletes in the major leagues of the 4 major sports. If we look at colleges, there are nearly 500,000 players of those same 4 sports at all levels. If you take the percentage of pros to those that don’t make that level, you’re looking at 1/200th of a percent. To break it down further, some of those sports have minor leagues, where players are making the same kind of money that someone with a nice job makes. They’re living their dream, but it’s not sustainable. I think you get the point.

Can making a livable income online be done? Absolutely. Are the odds great? Nope.

I gave three ways most people make money above. For two of those, you need to generate a lot of traffic to your websites. It’s estimated that for every $100 you make you need at least 5,000 visitors coming to your site. That doesn’t flow into every area.

For instance, if you write on something specific and you have your niche crowd that loves you, then you won’t need as many visitors. For advertising or direct sales, you’re going to need the numbers to show your worth and make any real money.

There are companies that travel across the country telling you that you can make a lot of money creating online stores. My wife talked me into going to one of these many years ago. One lady said her page made $15,000 a month selling cat toys that she didn’t make herself. Another guy said he was making $12,000 a month selling sports paraphernalia. These kinds of companies are scams, preying on the greed of consumers who think all they have to do is put up a site and the visitors will come; they’re not coming without a lot of work, and you’re never going to make the kind of money they’re professing.

A secret to making money online
Mathieu Thouvenin via Compfight

There are also companies that sell people things like travel sites, credit card sites and the like, telling them they can compete with the big boys. Trust me, after you’ve gone through your friends and family, without a compelling marketing plan, it’s not going to work and you’ll be out thousands of dollars.

If you still want to give making money a try, I recommend a few things.

One, don’t give up your job to do it.

Two, if you decide to buy some books on the subject don’t buy more than 3 before attempting to start. So many people get bogged down on different systems, get confused by the contradictory recommendations and become inactive.

Three, don’t spend more than $500 to get started. That’s on the high end; anything more and they’d better be giving you a guarantee (which they’d be stupid to do unless the contract contained some of that fine print language).

Four, learn how to write compelling sales copy because that’s what it’s going to take to entice whatever visitors you get. If you’re going to try to do it via a blog, learn how to tell stories as well as learn a lot about the products you’re trying to market so you can talk about them. For instance, even though it’s going slowly, I’ve been making a little chunk of change from when I wrote about the iDrive Cloud System, something I not only use but knew well enough to write a pretty good post about it.

Five, take at least one online course or read a book on marketing and sales. There are a lot of good ones, and if I’m asked I’ll recommend a couple for you.

Six, find one or two people online who you know are making real money and read whatever you can from and about them. Just remember that doing everything they do in the exact same way probably won’t work all that well; you’re going to have to add your own touches.

Seven, have faith in your process but be judgmental and cautious with whatever you decide to try. If it feels wrong, don’t do it. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s all I have for now. Let me know what you’re trying to do or how you’ve done; I love to hear success stories, and it’s possible I might be able to help.

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