You've probably seen a lot of articles already (including here at eHow) on making money on the internet. This one pulls it all together, and separates the good, the bad, and the ugly. You CAN make money online, and NO, not everything out there is a scam.
I'll be updating this regularly (most recent update is Winter 2012), so
you might want to bookmark it, and check in once a month or so.
**Read this, just for a bit of inspiration**
I make about $3,500 a month on the internet. Not quite enough for me and my family to live on, but a nice addition to my income just the same. It's pretty easy, and pretty quick, to get a SMALL income stream started. It takes time and effort to build it up. Might as well get started today.
**Take stock of what you have to offer**
If you are a writer, programmer, designer, or photographer, there are oodles of opportunities for you. If you have a speciality of any sort -- carpentry, raising kids, planning vacations or weddings, playing Guitar Hero 3 -- you can get paid for your expertise.
Even if you think all you can offer is time, there are plenty of opportunities for you as well.
**Scan the available steps**
I've listed a lot of options in the steps that follow, all of them legitimate. Pick the one that seems the best fit for you and your skills, and start exploring.
If you have a skill to offer, check out the various freelance sites (sometimes called "personal outsourcing"), like elance.com and guru.com (see the Resources section for the links I mention).
You can post your skills at these sites, so potential customers can check you out, and you can also look around for freelance projects that others have posted.
There are tons of opportunities for freelancers, in very varied fields. Common projects, though, are writing, computer or graphics design work, creating web pages, programming, writing brochures or reports, illustration, photography, and so on.
Pay can be pretty good, especially after you've earned a quality rating at one or more of the freelancing sites. At the same time, though, keep in mind that you're competing with freelancers from around the world.
Take a look at the "How Elance Works" video on their main page to get a quick overview.
**Try Writing Web Content**
There are a quite a number of ways to take your skill as a writer and turn it into cash.
One of them is right here at eHow. Write brief "How to" articles on any topic of your choosing, and get paid for the article. The more popular the article, the more income you can expect. A good article will bring in $50 per year or more. Write 10 top-notch articles, and that's $500. A hundred articles...you get the picture.
I can't say enough good things about eHow. To my mind, it is the best income generating opportunity available. Google the term 'ehow101' to learn more about how to make it work.
UPDATE: eHow is now run through its parent company, Demand Media Studios (DMS). If you want to apply to write for eHow or other DMS properties, or to be an editor, check out the freelancer's application at demandmedia.com.
**Write Product Review**
ConsumerSearch.com, a site owned by the N.Y. Times, pays freelance writers a minimum of $350 per article for product reviews. While that sounds like good money (and it is...and you can earn even more than that!), their particular brand of reviews requires good research and writing skills, and takes a lot of work. Check 'em out at consumersearch.com/jobs.
**More writing opportunities**
--At SoftwareJudge.com, write reviews of select software products...top reviews earn up to $50 each.
--Product Reviews. You may be familiar with epinions.com, but did you know they pay cash for good quality reviews. You won't get rich, but you can get started.
--Suggest domain names according to site descriptions at Pickydomains.com Get $25 for each name that is chosen.
--At Xomba.com, write anything you feel like, and collect 50% of any advertising income from Adsense clicks on your page.
--Become a fledgling journalist at examiner.com, and cover a special topic area in your neck of the woods...they pay pretty well.
--Other writing sites include associatedcontent.com, firehow.com, helium.com, and Squidoo. In fact, one of my eHow colleagues has put together a very nice Squidoo 'lens' with 101 sites where you can get paid to provide content...check it out in the Resources section.
**Check out Q&A Sites**
I earn much of my income as an online researcher, answering folks questions on everything under the sun: investments, market research, divorce law, homework help...you name it. If this sounds like your cup of tea, here are some resources to explore:
--The Association of Independent Information Professionals (aiip.org) can help you build you own Q&A website and business. I've built my research business at xooxleanswers.com, and it is a steadily growing source of income for me.
--I also work with Uclue.com Though they are not accepting new researchers right now, it's worth a look to see how a well-developed Q&A site works.
--Another Q&A site is JustAnswer, and they offer small payments for answers to questions.
**Earn money from your own blog or website**
The key is to generate as much traffic as you can, and to have your visitors click on ads and affiliate links. The more people visiting your site, clicking on ads, and buying affiliate products, the more income you can earn. As good as this sounds, income is generally more a trickle than a flood. But again, steadily building your site (or sites), and building traffic, is the key to generating a steadily growing stream of income.
Google Adsense is the most commonly used service for placing banner and text ads on blogs and websites. As I've learned to maximize Adsense income over the years, I've come to recognize this as one of the best income-generating opportunities available.
You can also incorporate in-text ads (the colored, underlined text with small pop-up ads). I like InfoLinks.com for this, and Kontera.com is another commonly used service.
Affiliate ads usually pay whenever a sale is made for a product. Amazon.com has one of the most well-known affiliate programs that all you to sell books or other Amazon products on your site or blog, and earn a cut of the sale.
Other good affiliate resources are Commission Junction at cj.com, LinkShare.com, and AssociatePrograms.com.
**Blog With the Best of Them**
If you don't have a site of your own, starting a blog is pretty easy at sites like Blogger.com, and Wordpress.com. Blogs make money through online advertising and affiliate sales, such as through the Amazon.com affiliates program. Blogger makes it very simple to automatically place Google Adsense ads on your blog.
Also, at Orble.com, you can take ownership of an abandoned blog with a specific focus, like Film, or Travel, and collect a portion of the ad revenues. The advantage of this is that the blog is already well-represented in search engines, and can often generate much more traffic than a new blog of your own. See Orble under the Resource links for more information.
**Sell your photos**
At sites like istockphoto.com and shutterpoint.com you can upload still photos or videos for sale, and receive a royalty payment every time someone makes use of your content.
**Take Online Surveys**
I mention survey work with a good deal of trepidation...the surveys are tedious, the pay is meager, and there are many sites that are dubious, or out and out scams.
The most legitimate operation I know is GlobalTestMarket.com. They offer real surveys, and they pay real money. Again...tedious, and earning takes a long, long time.
CashCrate.com also pays users to take online surveys. They strike me as legitimate, but I confess, I don't have any first-hand experience with it, so approach with caution...
SurveyScout.com is another possibility, but unlike CashCrate, they charge a membership fee before you can get started (Boo!). I've also heard some negative feedback from users of this site, so proceed with caution (if you proceed at all!).
**Teaching and Tutoring**
Search on [ Online tutoring ] and you'll uncover dozens of sites in this booming corner of the internet. Many accept applications for online tutors, with variable rates and topic areas. Two to consider are tutor.com and ehomeworkhelp.com
**Check into online "Jury Duty"**
Here's an odd one. Lawyers looking for feedback on how a case will play before a jury can make use of online e-jury sites to solicit input from the type of average citizens that show up on juries. Yes, you get paid. Fees for complex cases can run over $50, though $20 is more typical. To serve as an online juror, check out onlineverdict.com, or trialpractice.com.
Be aware, though, that none of the sites I've registered at has ever actually contacted me for a jury case, so I'm not sure just how active these services are. If anyone knows more about them, please leave a remark in the Comments.
**Become a virtual office assistant**
At TeamDoubleClick, you can sign on for temporary jobs as an office assistant, handling correspondence, emails, bookkeeping, data entry, and other office jobs. Think of it as an online temp agency for virtual work. Pay is varied, but you are not obliged to take jobs that don't meet your financial needs.
At moola.com, you can get paid to play.
This is probably the strangest one yet, and I can't personally vouch for it (I've only tinkered with the site), but it looks legitimate. Moola starts you off by giving you a penny, which you can then double, and double again, through a variety of games and activities.
Presumably, they make oodles of money through ads, and are willing to throw some of it your way by participating in their zany set of games and marketing gimmicks. They call themselves a "Massively Multiplayer Rewards Game". It's too complicated to explain here, but worth a look.
**Participate in crowdsource design**
"Crowdsourcing" is the buzzword for getting a lot of people to do your work for you. If you're good at designing things like t-shirts, logos, fancy fonts, and other graphics, take a look at the challenges at 99designs.com and threadless.com.
If your design is chosen, you can collect hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
**More blogging opportunities**
How does $100 a month sound for writing a few blog posts every week? That's what you can be paid (actual range is $84-140) if you get accepted as a blogger at Creative Weblogging. They are a large blog network, and seem to have mastered the art of monetizing their many sites. All they need are people to write them, and keep the content fresh.
UPDATE: Creative Weblogging has changed hands and is changing how -- or if -- it pays bloggers. Stay tuned for additional updates.
**Earn with any type of content**
Blogging, articles, photos, video, you name it. Flixya offers 100% of ad revenue to anyone who posts at their website (you need to have your own Google Adsense account to participate). Words, pictures, videos, whatever ya got. Post it, bring in some traffic, and collect some ad clicks. (Haven't tried it yet myself, but Flixya has a good reputation).
Another site that pays for content is mylot.com, but they also promise earnings everytime you use the site!. They also pay for referrals. Haven't given them a test run yet, so use them with caution, but they seem worth exploring, at least. If you have experience with them, please post a comment, below.
**Listen to music**
At slicethepie.com, you can get paid for listening to music.
Say what!!! Yep, listen to upcoming artists, and review their music. The more reviews you write -- and the better you are at spotting new talent -- the more you can get paid. Some folks are pulling in several dollars per review.
**Typing and Dictation**
If you have good typing skills, consider Speak-Write.com, an online dictation service.
You can participate in online focus groups at 2020research.com, where you review a product you've used, or discuss an issue of interest to you. Payment ranges from about $50-150 per session. Participants are typically asked to join a group once or twice a year.
**Work for Google**
Ha, ha...couldn't resist. But you can earn through Google by posting content at Google Knol.
This online encylopedia-like site is a place where anyone can contribute content, and you can "monetize" your efforts by placing Adsense ads on your article to generate revenue. I wrote a Knol about eHow. You can see it by searching on the term ehow101.
**Review websites for usability**
You can get paid for reviewing websites. Usertesting.com pays $10 per website review, where you provide feedback on quality and usability. It's not open-ended...you have to be selected to test, based on your demographic profile.
**Earn money reading emails**
Really! Of course, there are ads involved, and you might be asked to click a few things, but it's not difficult. Expect to get 5-10 emails a day (more, if you register multiple email addresses), and earn a few pennies per email. Check out InboxDollars.com.
**Try a little bit of everything**
Genuinejobs.com is a legitimate work-at-home (telecommuting) site that lists hundreds of jobs, none of which require a fee, and many of which can be done online. Registration is simple...worth checking out.
**Write for the NY Times**
Really! The Times owns two sites that regularly hire writers.
I already mentioned ConsumerSearch.com up above, a site that uses freelance writers to create detailed reviews of common consumer products...minimum pay is $350 per write-up, and they do a lot of hiring.
About.com, another Times property, hires writers as guides. These positions, paying $725/month or more, are tough to get, but worth looking into.
**And don't forget...**
At the risk of repeating myself, eHow is just about the best opportunity out there. Although getting on board through Demand Media Studios takes more work than at the eHow of old, it's still worth the effort.