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AdSense, Lead Generation, and Affiliate Marketing are the Three Best Ways To Make Money Online

Updated on July 30, 2014

Three ways to start making money online without fees

Since HubPages attracts so many people that are trying to figure out how to make money online, I thought I'd put together the basics. This is only intended to be a starting point for each of the ideas. To actually make them work, it will require more learning and individual experimentation. 

WikiPedia is the ultimate collection of evergreen content
WikiPedia is the ultimate collection of evergreen content
About.com is the king of commercial evergreen content and a great place to find ideas for things to write about
About.com is the king of commercial evergreen content and a great place to find ideas for things to write about
If you can make content like what's on About.com and WikiPedia, then you can earn income from the content with AdSense.
If you can make content like what's on About.com and WikiPedia, then you can earn income from the content with AdSense.

Sharing Information and AdSense

The Product

The product is written articles that get traffic from search engines. In order to be successful, the content you produce should be on evergreen topics that people search for on Google or other major search engines. The key to success here is high quality information. Like making anything that is great, it takes a lot of work to create a high quality piece of content that is worthy of ranking high in google for competitive search terms.

How You Make Money

You make money from AdSense. AdSense places ads that match the content of your writing. Advertisers like placing ads through AdSense since they are so highly targeted. Users will click on the ads if they are interested in them. The amount of money you can make depends on the topic. Commercial topics tend to pay more and within commercial topics, categories like finance are among the top earning. I suggest worrying less about the category and focus on areas that you can create the best piece of content on in the world.

Challenges

When you are just starting out with articles and AdSense it takes time to gain traffic. Then, it's usually between .5% and 4% of people that will click on ads. So, earnings can be very small at the beginning. Secondly, you never know how much traffic a piece of content will get. Rarely do we see someone make a hit with their first hub. Instead, they will make a few hubs that get zero traffic and then they will make one that does well. After they have one good producing hub, they are able to see the pattern and create more, but this takes time. I say it usually takes 30 Hubs before they get a reasonable amount of traffic if they have created high quality content and focused on niche search phrases. This upfront time investment can be daunting when you don't see results. Getting through this dark period is the major challenge.

Why I like it

I don't just like this model, I love it. I love it so much I helped create HubPages. Here's why. First, there are no fees when starting. It just takes time. And if you like learning it's a double bonus, because you will learn a lot about how the internet works. My second favorite part is once you figure out how to create content that gets traffic and monetizes well that each piece of content you create is like putting money in the bank. Every month it will earn money and as long as the information is current, it will continue to produce. Third, I love that you don't have to deal with inventory (no products to order and ship, no returns, no bad debt) and you have total flexibility when you work. Want to work in a cafe, great. Want to work from home fine. It's up to you. Lastly, you don't have to sell your friends, or push a product that you don't believe in. You can write about things you love. Things you are passionate about. And. Things that help people. It's up to you to be successful. If you create quality content over time, you will earn money.

Lowermybills.com is an example of a lead generation company with good offers.
Lowermybills.com is an example of a lead generation company with good offers.
Commission Junction is a site (cj.com) where you can become an affiliate and earn commissions by selling and generating leads for numerous products.
Commission Junction is a site (cj.com) where you can become an affiliate and earn commissions by selling and generating leads for numerous products.

Afflliate Marketing and Lead Generation

The Product

The product can be a website, an email newsletter, or even a blog that promotes a product for a commission or collects information to generate a lead. Examples could be promoting a clickbank offer, selling an item on eBay (to earn a commission), or hosting a loan capture form. 

How You Make Money

You make money based on an action. For example, if you use an affiliate link to promote an eBay product and someone purchases the product, then you will earn a commission. The commission is dependent upon how much money the item sold costs. It's pretty common for more expensive items to pay higher commissions. Lead generation is similar, accept in this case the action is getting someone to submit their personal information. For example, you can become a Leadpoint affiliate and get people to submit their information to refinance their house. Every-time someone fills out the form (with accurate information) you earn a commission for the lead. Mortgage leads can be well over $100 per lead, so it can be quite lucrative if you can generate the leads. 

Challenges

Affiliate marketing and lead generation is very hard work. Most of the attractive categories like new car leads, and mortgages are filled with very experienced marketers that makes it hard to compete with them. The trick is to acquire the traffic at a rate that costs less than the commissions earned. Since you only get paid for an action, as apposed to AdSense (paid per click) it can take much more traffic to earn anything. Although, it's likely that the lump affiliate commission is worth several AdSense clicks. The other challenge is that many affiliate offers prey on other people. It's hard for me to get too excited about someone pushing an eBook that is garbage or tricking someone to fill out a form. 

Why I like it

When done tastefully, affiliate and lead generation can be an excellent way to monetize traffic at premium rates.  This happens when good quality traffic is matched to an offer or to a lead form.  When everything is on the up and up, the person making the purchase or filling out the form is satisfied and the publisher can make a nice commission for brokering the deal. 

Craigslist is the best classified ad site on the internet.  And.  It's absolutely free to post items for sale.
Craigslist is the best classified ad site on the internet. And. It's absolutely free to post items for sale.
EBay is the world's largest auction site.  For a fee, sellers can list items and sell them to the millions of monthly visitors.
EBay is the world's largest auction site. For a fee, sellers can list items and sell them to the millions of monthly visitors.

Ecommerce: Selling Goods Online

The Product

This can be anything you can sell and deliver. The big difference here is that you have to deliver the good. There are types of products that I think are better for selling online. First, if you can resell high margin products that are small and easy to ship like expensive watches, jewelry or fashion items. Second is something you make. This could be holiday candy, knitted hats, or a product that you figure out how to manufacture.  The key is to sell products with significant margins and a market available that can move them. 

How You Make Money

You make money when a product is sold. The amount of money you make is dependent upon many variables that are common to running a store, but hopefully the listing fees are less than a store's rent.

Challenges

Retailing is challenging. It can be extremely difficult to become a wholesaleor of brandname products online. If you do get the product, then you have to pay for the inventory. When you take on inventory, you take on risk if you can actually sell the products. Some manufacturers will give you credit, but you still have to sell the products. Then. You have to deal with returns, customers and in many cases stiff competition on price. Internet shoppers love to find the lowest price. But, the lowest price can eat away all the profits for a small seller.

Why I like it

I believe that there is huge opportunity for small retailers online and it's perhaps the easiest way to make money online. You can simply go into your house. Find five items that are worth over $25 and list them for free on Craigslist. I bet that you will sell at least one of those items in a few days. When you sell things, Craigslist is a great way to be part of a marketplace for free. There is no other marketplace in the world that has high quaility buyers and costs nothing to put up your goods for sale. Craigslist is great for many types of items, but not all. However, eBay, Amazon and having your own online store fill the gaps, although they cost more to list. For people that can get access to high margin products, or make their own goods with great margins, then selling online could be just the ticket for you.

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