The Two Top Genuine Ways of Making Money Online - Build Your Income
The New Employed vs Self-Employed
No there aren't! There are lots and lots of ways! I can hear you protesting right now. I don't deny that there are many websites where you can earn money, and many different things you can do to earn that money, but it ultimately boils down to two choices.
a) Complete tasks and work for someone else
b) Build your reputation and earn money on your own
They are the internet's equivalent of employed vs self employed, but whereas in the traditional world of work there weren't that many shades of grey, online there are almost infinite number of increments between these two positions. If you are serious about earning money online you should consider where you are, and where you want to be, between the two absolutes.
Working For Others
There are many websites offering a small amount of money if you complete various tasks. A good example of this is Online Surveys. You can sign up with 'survey brokers' who will send you surveys that meet your profile. You might spend between 10 minutes and an hour completing a survey, and get paid on average a couple of dollars for your opinion. This is the ultimate example of working for someone else - you don't get to decide what work you get offered or when, or how much work there is (though you can decline work, which is where this differs from being employed). If the survey site decides, they can stop sending you surveys whenever they like.
Other examples of working solely for someone else are things data entry sites like Key for Cash, which allows you to do quite basic clerical work for what is a very low hourly rate. There is nothing wrong with this type of work, and if you are only after a bit of extra money each month and don't want to dedicate a lot of time or energy on a regular basis, then this is probably the type of online earning that is best for you. It also has the advantage of being the least stress - you can come home from work, do an hour's online work as a mindless escape and then get on with the rest of your evening. You can't do that if you do it all yourself.
Working for Yourself?
Working for yourself means being able to choose what work to do when, and how much work to do. Unlike something like a survey site, you don't get given a topic (such as a survey on online shopping for instance), but can choose exactly what topic to work on. Survey sites and similar sites where you work for someone else often have a limited supply of work, you don't have the choice of carrying on that bit longer to earn more.
Article content sites like Hubpages are in many ways a good example of working for yourself. You aren't completely free to do what you want, there are rules and requirements in excess of the rules of the internet, but you have almost free choice to write about what you want to, and do as little or as much work as you want to. You do have to share income with Hubpages however, and you rely to some extent on Hubpages itself, and other Hubbers for your reputation and customers (i.e. web traffic).
Even more of an example of working for yourself is having your own website. You are free to create whatever content that you like, and the only restrictions are that you have to comply with the law, as you would with anything.
You Always Rely on Others
I mentioned earlier that you are likely to work somewhere between the two extremes of working for others and working solely for yourself and not relying on anyone else. You may rely on Hubpages for reputation and for the opportunity to write and be paid, but even if you have your own website you rely on others. If you want to be paid, the chances are that you will be using Google Adsense, which means you rely on Google for your income. They could at any time shut down your Adsense account, and you will struggle to find anything to replace it. Even if you had other revenue sources, you will rely mostly on Google for traffic on the web. The subject of over-reliance on Google is a topic for another day, but it does illustrate the point.
Real Eggs in a Basket
Don't Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket
If you really want to work for yourself, and have some certainty over your online income, then you need to follow the old saying 'Don't put your eggs all in one basket'. Try not to be over-reliant on others, and diversify your income streams, your web properties and your traffic sources.
Hubpages is a really useful and important place for writing and earning money online. In exchange for giving up 40% of your revenue, you get the benefit of a large and friendly community in which you can share ideas and get additional traffic, as well as the benefit of a good search ranking, and all the tools tutorials that hubpages supplies.
Squidoo, Infobarrel and other websites can be worth having a presence on, as it spreads out your internet portfolio.
Websites - Your own websites as have already been mentioned, are very useful because you have complete control over what you do with it. You can have as many different websites as you want, all of which are separate, and have their own following and search engine ranking.
The biggest income stream for many writers and internet marketers is undoubtedly Google Adsense. On Hubpages, the Hubpages ad program is arguably better (views differ) but relies on an active Adsense account. Other revenue sources to diversify your income include affiliate schemes (Amazon and Ebay being the biggest, but there are thousands available), and getting money for referrals (such as people joining Hubpages).
Direct selling is another good income stream, whether it be Ebay, or handmade crafts on Etsy or similar sites. For writers though, the best opportunity is by selling E-books, via the Kindle Store, and other online book stores. If you already write articles, writing e-books is just a stage further. What's great about the likes of the Kindle store and many other online bookstores is that they are a completely independent revenue source, doesn't need an adsense account, and doesn't rely on getting traffic from search engines (though this can obviously help drive traffic to your books).
Diversifying Traffic Sources
For many people, the vast majority of their web traffic and customers come via Google. If this is the case for you, then you are heavily over-reliant on Google. It is all too common to hear of people who, often for innocent reasons, have been blacklisted by Google, and all of their web traffic and customers disappear overnight, never to come back. Such is the power of Google. Even if this doesn't happen to you, a change in Google's search algorithm can decimate your web traffic overnight. Finding other other traffic sources is therefore essential.
Cultivating search traffic from other search engines is one way to diversify. The only significant other search engine is Bing.com. It is more tricky to get significant traffic from them, but there are various methods you can employ to help.
The biggest potential alternative traffic source to Google is Social Networking sites - in particular Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. If you can build up a decent following and/or have a web page go viral, you will get a lot of traffic. Social bookmarking sites like Pinterest, Reddit and Stumbleupon can also be good traffic sources.
I started out this article by explaining by supposition that there are only two ways to make money online. There are of course many ways to make money online, but I hope that thinking of them as just two directions you can take in money making efforts online will help concentrate your thoughts on what type of work you want to do online.
From then on, I've concentrated on the 'working for yourself' way of making money online, and given some suggestions about how you can really work for yourself, and reduce your reliance on others. Whichever way of making money online you choose, good luck!