Every 12 months or so I bash my head against the keyboard and say to myself I SHOULD BE MAKING MONEY ONLINE. It’s usually after someone has made a passing comment to me along the lines of “Oh, you have a website, you must make HEAPS OF MONEY”. At which I laugh hysterically and tug on my Kmart leggings which shrank in the dryer 6 months ago.
This revelation is then normally followed by a frenzied night of research online because I say to myself ‘I do know how to build websites, I should be making money online!’ It would make life so much easier for my family and we could get a SIX FIGURE PASSIVE INCOME in JUST TWELVE MONTHS and then we can sit back and toast some marshmallows… or something. (What are the passively rich people doing these days?).
I excitedly start a list of niche website ideas and brainstorm a few starter keywords…
And then I shake my head so it clears a little and remember this:
I don’t want to work in sales. I don’t like working in sales. It’s not my ‘thing’. I’m a writer.
Not that I have anything at all against people who work in sales. Advertising and marketing is not, in itself, a bad thing – but that’s a whole other conversation.
What I thought I’d try to explain here is what exactly making money online means, in old-fashioned terms us 30-somethings can understand.
Here are 5 of the mainstream methods of making money – apart from an actual online shop selling physical products – you’ll come across in the world wide web.
1. Digital billboards (aka ‘banner ads’)
These are the easiest ones to understand. Newspapers and billboards have had them for a couple of hundred years. They just transferred them to digital. They look like this:
- paid to display for a period of time (like newspapers and television)
- pay-per-click (the advertiser gets a few cents or dollars every time you click the ad)
- pay-per-sale (the advertiser gets a commission if you click on the ad and then buy something).
- writers who prefer to just whack up ads and get on with the writing (you’ll notice one at the top of every page on this website).
2. Commission sales (aka ‘affiliate marketing’)
This is a little bit like when your friend gets bitten by the Tupperware bug and decides to become a party sales person.
You go along to her party for a chat and a cuppa (sort of like visiting me here to read blog posts), she raves about how much she loves Tupperware (sort of like me going on about these 14 books that I love) and that everyone needs MORE TUPPERWARE IN THEIR LIFE.
You get a lunchbox, an entertaining afternoon with friends and an uneasy satisfaction that you’re helping to fund your friend’s addiction to durable, colourful plastic containers that come with a lifetime guarantee.
So what’s an affiliate link?
The Tupperware analogy works much the same in the online world. You’ve probably seen affiliate disclaimers kicking around on articles, such as ‘this post contains affiliate links’. This means, for example, if:
- I tell you I read All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr and it was brilliant and you should read it and then I give you a link to buy it on Booktopia); then
- you click the link and head off to the Booktopia website; then
- you buy All The Light We Cannot See OR anything else on the Booktopia website; then
- I get paid a small percentage of the amount you spent.
- writers who sometimes drop a reference to a product they like and recommend
- website owners who are passionate about a particular brand or type of product – like, say, Wine Selectors (*ahem*).
3. Digital products
Ebooks, online courses and printables are great examples of digital products – basically anything you can sell online without going to the post office.
For example, I created an ebook back in 2014 – Conversations with Toddlers: Surviving Maternity Leave With a Sense of Humour, which is for sale on a bunch of websites including Collins Booksellers, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
The thing about digital products is that you have to actually market them in order to make any money from them. Hence why I’ve sold a grand total of 37 copies in the past 2.5 years.
- tech-savvy writers with marketing skills
- tech-savvy video presenters or writers who like to teach other people things (who also have marketing skills).
4. Sponsored posts
You know when you’re watching Masterchef and there are ads and messaging about Coles everywhere and you would hear things like ‘brought to you by Coles’. That’s because they’re an official Masterchef sponsor.
Article sponsorship works in a similar way – a business and blog will come together because they have similar interests and the business will sponsor (pay) the blog to write one or more articles that:
- Will be interesting to the blog’s readers
- Contain content that relates to the business.
For example, I wrote this sponsored post about my 3-year-old son’s dental surgery. It’s something that I would have written anyway, but because it was sponsored by Orthodontists Australia, I included more useful information from their website, plus a disclaimer that the post was sponsored by them.
- writers who are happy to get creative and write articles which appeal to their audience and meet the needs of a brand or business.
5. Brand ambassadorships
This is where a public figure (blogger, Instagrammer, celebrity) is given free or discounted products – usually to wear – by a business in the hope that other people will see them wearing it and want to buy one too.
Occasionally they’re paid per post, but mostly it’s simply payment-by-product.
Disclosure & credit: This post contains affiliate links 😉 All GIFs via GIPHY
Have you thought about making money online? Does it sound easy to you?