Whether you’re an experienced blogger or an ambitious side hustler, there are a multitude of ways that you can begin making money online. And no, not just illegal or risqué ways either. Fair warning, though: these strategies may be able to generate long-lasting passive income, but they require considerable time and effort. If that doesn’t scare you, check out below these five ways to monetize your online presence.
1. Cultivate a social media following to become an influencer.
Contrary to traditional convention, social media isn’t just for the sake of keeping in touch with friends; it’s also a means of making money. You don’t have to necessarily cultivate millions, or even thousands, of followers to earn some dollars, though. More and more brands are paying for sponsored posts and ads from “micro-influencers,” whose followers fall in the hundreds but are more engaged than the millions following big-name celebrities like Selena Gomez.
In any case, becoming a social media star, whether on Instagram, YouTube, or another platform generally involves producing eye-catching and inspiring content. It also helps to focus on one specific niche. Whether it’s fitness, fashion, nail art, or something more obscure, many influencers got their start by establishing themselves as experts in a specific area.
2. Reach out to your favorite brands for affiliate marketing.
In essence, affiliate marketers earn a small commission whenever they successfully promote a company or brand’s product. It’s certainly not as easy as some industry experts purport it to be, but can pay off for niche bloggers offering insight on products they’ve actually used.
“If you are a blogger looking to monetize your income, this is a great way to start,” writer and blogger Yasmin Purnell says. “I recommend my readers books, courses, digital marketing products, and more — and receive a commission for simply recommending a product I use anyway.”
However, you should avoid making any false promises about the products you promote. If your audience feels like you’re being insincere for the sake of making money, you’ll quickly lose their trust. After all, the value of affiliate marketing comes from the authenticity of real people rather than brands.
3. Advertise on your blog.
If you don’t want companies to shape the nature of your content the same way they do for social media influencers and affiliate marketers, you can opt for traditional online advertising on your website. That includes banners, overlay ads, and other forms of display ads that you can enable through programs like Google Adsense.
Beware, though: these advertisements won’t generate massive amounts of revenue unless your blog sees decent traffic. Moreover, if used excessively, these ads might even deter customers from coming back. As investment strategist Lyn Alden says, “The biggest caution to be aware of is that the more heavily you monetize your online presence, the more it is likely to hurt your brand, traffic, and quality. People hate pop-ups, obtrusive ads, and hype-filled promotions."
4. Start a Patreon profile.
If you’re a creative with a fanbase willing to support you, you might want to consider making a Patreon profile. Although its crowdfunding premise is reminiscent of Kickstarter and Gofundme, Patreon differs in that funds are made for an ongoing venture rather than a one-time project.
Once you’ve created a profile, you can designate different levels of funding that your “patrons,” or supporters, can decide upon, e.g., $1, $5, $10. You also have the option to offer unique rewards-like packages to patrons in order to thank them for their support. For instance, that could be a sneak peek of upcoming work, free merchandise, or even a personal coffee date.
5. Offer something of value.
Aside from advertising and sponsorships, you can also monetize your online presence by creating something of value for your followers. That could be an eBook, an online course, or even a physical product, like mugs and t-shirts.
Sound difficult? Maybe not as much as you think.
“So many platforms make it surprisingly easy for small business owners to create and sell products these days,” says Geoff Scott, a consultant at Motile. For those looking to sell physical goods, he suggests services like Shopify and Etsy, which make diving into ecommerce far less intimidating. Both platforms offer a comprehensive analytics dashboard that helps you compare different item sales and monitor purchase trends, helping you optimize your products for more success.
Joyce is a digital marketer and freelance writer who focuses on writing about personal finance on Financial Impulse. You can find out more about her work on her personal website or by following her on Twitter.