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The Realities of Making Money Online

Updated on May 4, 2015

If you've spent at least a full 24 hours on the internet then you've probably seen an ad somewhere saying that you can make loads of money online just by trying some simple process. A lot of the time they'll take you to a splash page where you can read all the testimonials about how grandma made $30000 in the first year just by using eBay with this guide. Then splashed across the screen in red text will be...

LIMITED TIME OFFER $99.99... No... for a Limited Time Offer Only $19.99!!!

Everything on the page sounds too good to be true - promises of an online income even if you have no skill sets. Promises that you will be payed well - the equivalent or more than a standard 9-5 job where you work your ass off. And promises that it will be easy usually line the page as well. Sorry to say it, but most of those are full of scams or low quality information that's goal is to make the eBook or program author money fast - Not you. Most of you probably already knew this, if so good for you - you're already a step closer to understand the realities of the internet and how competitive of a marketplace it is. While there are certainly methods of making money that are more efficient than others if you have the skill (for instance, compare a web developers hours worked / profit made to a restaurant bus boy and it's blatantly obvious) but there aren't easy ways to make money fast. Those that do succeed online and make a lot of money do so because they worked very hard and very smart at least initially as their businesses developed. Here's a few examples of things you can and other people have tried online and how well they've worked online.

A computer, your morning coffee, and working for yourself sounds so tempting that tons of scams have been built up around the idea.
A computer, your morning coffee, and working for yourself sounds so tempting that tons of scams have been built up around the idea.

YouTube Videos

YouTube is an amazing site where you can find specialized content on almost any topic you could possibly imagine. There is someone for just about everyone on YouTube just like there is someone for blogs who writes about whatever topic you're thinking of. I have a few YouTube channels currently with around 300 subs in total and I worked very hard to get those subscribers. Now even with 100,000 video views do you think that translates into even $1000? Nope, you're actually look at around $40/45 in ad revenue. Of course, there are other smarter ways of profiting off of your YouTube videos like running a Patreon for donations, putting in video advertisements possibly recorded by yourself, and marketing your products like eBooks. Without finding an alternative source of revenue than just basic advertisements, you need an awful lot of viewers in order to make a livable income. There are many people in the 100,000 subscriber plus range who talk about their incomes on YouTube and how pitiful it is yet they wish they could make a living income. To make YouTube full time takes a serious amount of dedication and a lot of time. Plus you can't just work on YouTube 24 hours a day putting out tons of videos because that tends to make subscribers think you're spammy and leave. In general quality > quantity applies to YouTube and that's part of why so many gaming channels aren't even a blip on the radar despite having dozens or hundreds of videos.

I don't even think Pewdiepie makes money like this with his #1 YouTube Channel
I don't even think Pewdiepie makes money like this with his #1 YouTube Channel


Well some people do manage to have success with blogs but do you know how many blogs are out there? Hundreds of millions. Hundreds of millions on Tumblr alone by their own statistics let alone the rest of the internet. When you consider that maybe it's actually above a billion by now and if it's not by some point in time it will be. Just like YouTube, blogging is ultra competitive. If you want to make it in blogging it takes serious work to market your site. In my opinion, writing is actually the easy part even for long and heavily researched posts. Many businesses complaint about their websites is the lack of traffic they are able to generate. In fact, online business marketing and social media (whether it works well or not) has become a huge deal. There are school programs and classes specifically dedicated to online marketing with payed advertisements now. Surely you've heard of all the SEO consultants? Well have search engine optimized content is one way of slowly increasing your audience as well. If you can market a website or blog well enough without going broke from advertising costs then you're golden. That said, I've never managed to do it despite the several attempts I've had.

What Have You Had the Most Success With?

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Honestly, this is the one where I've had a little big of success with online. If you've ever heard of sites like oDesk or Fiverr, you can sell your self online as a freelancer for hire. If you set up a good profile, you can get gigs. The thing is, unless you are already a well known person on the internet then basically you're just another Joe Schmoe until proven otherwise. That means that if a web developer in India is skilled and will work for $5/10 an hour that you'd better have a serious argument for why they should hire you for $30/40 an hour instead. English skills make a good case but they'll only go so far online. Many people looking for freelancers do so because they want something done incredibly cheaply. I can't quite comment on the real projects since I humbly haven't reached that stage where you can charge professional level American rates and still competitively get the job. Encase you're wondering, I went to school and trained for Web and Android App Development. I've made a plugin and a couple apps for myself but not too much beyond that and an internship. So what I've actually been doing is freelance writing and there's actually an easily accessible market for that because remember there are hundreds of millions of blogs / websites and someones got to write them. I might very soon be looking to set up some basic websites for people - who knows.

Even online, you're either selling a product or service whether that's yours or if you're an affiliate (Google Ads sell products, etc)
Even online, you're either selling a product or service whether that's yours or if you're an affiliate (Google Ads sell products, etc)
How does the strategy make money?
Is it easy in reality?
Probably Not! - Competition is fierce for low hanging fruit
Probably Not! - Tons of people wish they could your job or any job at all

Ebay Reseller

This one seemed too good to be true for me and that's because it is. There are a lot of items in garage sales that can be sold online for a massive profit if you know what to look for. So you do the math in your head and think "Well if I buy a rare baseball cap I found at a Value World for $3 and sell it online for $25 then I'm making huge bank, right?" Well in theory sure. The problem is that you need to put up the auction which involves taking a lot of photos and writing a detailed description, find the merchandise which involves going to the location and scouring a store or garage sale, and shipping the product. When you put all that together, it's actually quite a bit of overhead that goes into selling small items. I've heard from a few people who do it professionally on Youtube that the real money is on craigslist and big ticket items ($300/400) but when you actually do all the math on eBay, it's actually not a huge salary. That's even assuming your stuff sells. For an amateur, it's very easy to buy items that won't sell at all. It can work definitely, but it's not the easy money that the internet promises it to be. Now of course there are a bunch of other legitimate options that you can attempt online like eBooks but no matter where you look online there won't be money handed to you on a silver platter. Remember, tons of people come online thinking the same thing. Wherever there are huge profits to be made, other people on the internet will quickly join the same market. It's great for the consumer but it makes it especially challenging for individuals, freelancers, and businesses to find their success on the internet.


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