On this blog I not only try to help people save money but, when I can, I offer tips on how to make money, as well as warn of scams and such when they crop up. In this case, I want to address the topic of making money online because it’s a major industry.

Dfardin via Compfight

Let’s get the first question out of the way; can you make money online? Yes you can. Let’s address part two of the question; can you make enough money online to live on? That one isn’t so easily answered.

There are basically 3 ways people can make money online, which I detailed a bit more on this post on a different blog. Those 3 ways are selling stuff, selling services or accepting advertising. There are nuances for each of these, but those are the specifics.

The majority of people who decide to try to make money online will do so; just not very much. For instance, I make between $100 and $500 a month online, though most of the time it’s towards the lower end. I make the bulk of regular income via one of my other websites and Google Adsense. The “regular” up and down part comes via advertising on this blog.

The “rare” part, which I didn’t detail with a dollar figure, comes when I’m contacted for consulting or speaking services of some type. When that comes it amounts to a big hit, then it’s over and I fall back on my normal process.

Let’s go back to that Adsense money for a quick moment. It took me 18 months to hit $100 the first time around. Then when I created the website that was bringing in better money, I was averaging between $500 and $700 a month from it. Not livable income but not a bad part time job at the time. However, once Google put out Penguin and Panda, my income dropped precipitously. Still, $100 a month isn’t bad; I know people who’ve been running Adsense for years and haven’t hit $100. It pays for my web hosting & domain names; that’s a start.

Let’s look at this from a high level. No matter who you are, if you’re living in the United States you probably need to be generating at least $2,000 a month at the lowest sustainable level of living. It’s hard getting exact figures because most people not making money don’t want to say and the ones making it are going to tell you if they did it you can. So, for a good comparison let’s look at athletics.

In the United States, there are around 3,000 athletes in the major leagues of the 4 major sports. If we look at colleges, there are nearly 500,000 players of those same 4 sports at all levels. If you take the percentage of pros to those that don’t make that level, you’re looking at 5/1000th of a percentage. That’s only men’s sports. If we include the women… well, I think you get the point.

Can it be done? Absolutely. Are the odds great? Nope. I gave the three ways people can make money above. For two of those, you need to generate a lot of traffic to your online sites. It’s estimated that for every $100 you make you need at least 5,000 visitors coming to your site. Of course that doesn’t flow into every area. For instance, if you write on something specific and you have your niche crowd that loves you, then you won’t need as many visitors. However, for advertising or direct sales, you’re going to need the numbers to show your worth and make any real money.

There are companies that travel across the country telling you that you can make a lot of money creating online stores. My wife talked me into going to one of these many years ago. One lady said her page made $15,000 a month selling cat toys that she didn’t make herself. Another guy said he was making $12,000 a month selling sports paraphernalia. Folks, these kinds of companies are scams, preying on the greed of consumers who think all they have to do is put up a site and the visitors will come; they’re not coming.

A secret to making money online
Mathieu Thouvenin via Compfight

There are also companies that sell people things like travel sites, credit card sites and the like, telling them they can compete with the big boys. Trust me, after you’ve gone through your friends and family, without a compelling marketing plan, it’s not going to work and you’ll be out of thousands of dollars.

If you still want to give it a try, I recommend a few things.

One, don’t give up your job to do it.

Two, if you decide to buy some books on the subject don’t buy more than 3 before attempting to start. So many people get bogged down on different systems and suddenly become inactive.

Three, don’t spend more than $500 to get started. That’s on the high end; anything more and they’d better be giving you a guarantee (which they’d be stupid to do unless the contract contained some of that fine print language).

Four, learn how to write compelling sales copy because that’s what it’s going to take to entice whatever visitors you get.

Five, take at least one online course or read a book on marketing and sales. There are a lot of good ones, and if I’m asked I’ll recommend a couple for you.

Six, find one or two people online who you know are making real money and read whatever you can from and about them.

Seven, have faith in your process but be judgmental and cautious with whatever you decide to try. If it feels wrong, don’t do it. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s all I have for now. If you want more resources I can provide some for you.

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